Consider the implications of this Cliff Kincaid column for a moment and its relevance to the Republican Party/Tea Party debate.
While Republican strategist Karl Rove was raising $300 million for television ads depicting Republican candidate Mitt Romney as a would-be efficient manager of the U.S economy, Bird said the Obama for America operation assembled a network comprised of more than two million volunteers, backed by neighborhood political teams and 2,700 field organizers. The local offices were critical to mobilizing the volunteers, he said.
Jeremy Bird said that OFA volunteers made 146 million “door knocks and phone calls” for Obama in order to try to get them out to the polls, and conducted a voter registration program that “changed the electorate” by increasing the turnout of minorities and others favorable to Obama. Bird noted that the Obama campaign had another program, Operation Vote, which focused on getting “core constituencies” to the polls.
Now the Republican Party can try to counter this in two ways.
1. Build up its own community organizer network made up of non-profits linked to conservative religious institutions and advocacy groups that replicate the liberal formula of creating grant-funded community groups that act as political interfaces with entire communities. These groups help residents get benefits and navigate problems with the government. For those who don’t like the benefits part, those groups also provide tax assistance and a variety of similar services. And these groups would target non-minority rural populations that are underserved and do not turn out to vote in sufficient numbers.
2. Use its own grass roots as volunteers. And the Tea Party is the country’s largest conservative grass roots movement.
The problem is that grass roots movements believe in things. They can turn out large numbers of volunteers who passionately believe that they are making a difference, rather than serving the system.
Would Obama have gotten as many volunteers without gay marriage, ObamaCare and the unilateral DREAM amnesty? Probably not. And Republicans who hope to get massive numbers of volunteers on the ground need to stand for actual conservative issues that they intend to implement.
A Republican Party that caters to an establishment elite is never going to be able to replicate the radical left’s organizing efforts.
So there are two choices here. Organize and radicalize or lose. The Republican Party can no longer win a race against a radical leftist without the Tea Party.