Thursday, September 04, 2008

It Takes a Movement

Hat tip to Progressive Majority for this breaking info:

Did you see last night how Sarah Palin fired up the conservative crowd at the Republican convention? Did you notice that she was poised, strong and clear?

It was no coincidence. While many are mocking the "Mayor of What?" who became governor and now VP pick, we here at Progressive Majority understand Sarah Palin's rise to power - and why the right wing has responded to her so well.

Sarah Palin is a GOPAC graduate.

GOPAC is the leading candidate recruitment and training operation for the conservative right - and our direct competitor when it comes to who controls government.

GOPAC was founded in 1978 by conservatives who knew they were going to have to work outside the Republican Party to take it over. They knew they would have to recruit their own kind to run to wrest control of government from the Democrats. They knew they needed a long-term plan to build their "farm team".

They went to work and Newt Gingrich took over the organization in the 1980s. You see, Gingrich wasn't satisfied with the election of Ronald Reagan. He wanted to see conservatives in control at the local, state AND national levels - even if it took a generation. Under Gingrich's leadership, GOPAC stepped up its candidate recruitment efforts, sought out "movement conservatives" and taught them how to run campaigns and talk about issues in a way that galvanized the far right base while not completely alienating moderate voters.

It worked. During the next 20 years, they took over the majority of state legislatures and governors. They singlehandedly led the "Republican Revolution" that took over Congress in 1994. They elected George W. Bush.

And, yesterday, one of their own accepted the Republican nomination for vice president of the United States.

If you're a conservative, that's how you go from being mayor of a small town to governor to the very top of the ticket.

Liberal Arts Dude sez:

Sarah Palin is a direct recruit from the conservative movement’s political farm team. Most voters do not know about organizations such as GOPAC. I consider myself a fairly politically aware person and I did not know about them until this notification from Progressive Majority.

Win or lose this election, the conservative movement has the infrastructure in place to keep coming again and again election after election. Democrats, Progressives, third-party supporters, independent progressives -- anyone who believes the conservative movement as exemplified by politicians such as John McCain and Sarah Palin are your philosophical and ideological foes – better take notice. Even if the McCain and Plain ticket loses this election that doesn’t mean the conservative movement is going to go away. They’re in it for the long haul and have been in it for at least four decades already.

This is why it is so important that the Progressive movement develop organizations and political farm teams similar to GOPAC. Thank goodness we already do have a start with organizations like Progressive Majority and Democracy for America. One can say what one will about them being farm teams solely for the Democratic Party (which is a criticism that I have made myself in the past). But the fact is, they are the only ones out there that are organized enough to be doing what they are doing.

It’s time to seriously discuss the infrastructure of a Progressive Movement, folks. It is not enough to elect Obama and Biden in November. We have to be in this on the local, state, municipal, city, school board level for the long haul. It doesn’t matter if the latest polls and statistics indicate that the majority of Americans actually agree with Progressives on most issues. If there is no political counterpoint to the conservative movement that exists to challenge them on every level, there is no vehicle to carry the will of this electorate.

It’s time we pay close attention to these words by Adolph Reed. I know a lot of pro-Obama folks don’t like him but he’s a brilliant guy who makes a really good point:

It’s a mistake to focus so much on the election cycle; we didn’t vote ourselves into this mess, and we’re not going to vote ourselves out of it. Electoral politics is an arena for consolidating majorities that have been created on the plane of social movement organizing. It’s not an alternative or a shortcut to building those movements, and building them takes time and concerted effort. Not only can that process not be compressed to fit the election cycle; it also doesn’t happen through mass actions. It happens through cultivating one-on-one relationships with people who have standing and influence in their neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, families, and organizations. It happens through struggling with people over time for things they’re concerned about and linking those concerns to a broader political vision and program. This is how the populist movement grew in the late nineteenth century, the CIO in the 1930s and 1940s, and the civil rights movement after World War II. It is how we’ve won all our victories. And it is also how the right came to power.

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