Re-Organizing

Jon Henke has a provocative analysis up:

This is a perfect symbol of one of the great ironies of our political environment; the Right and Left approach campaigning and organizing, both electoral and advocacy, in different ways…

  • The Right has a very top-down, command and control model; Republicans centralize activity and authority within the organization.  Care about Issue (A)?  Send money, and Group (B) will take care of it for you.  Want to get involved in Campaign (X)?  Contact Group (Z) and they will tell you what they want you to do.
  • The Left is increasingly decentralizing, adopting more market-oriented organizational models.  They are not directing activity, but providing the tools for self-directed individuals to conduct their own activism.  The Left is creating an army of spokesmen, an army of organizers, an army of stakeholders – a Movement.

I believe a great deal of this is attributable to the state of each Movement.

  • Consolidation: The Right is behaving like a company within a declining industry, which focuses on increasing market share, rather than expanding the actual market itself.  Declining industries are defensive, seeking tradition and efficiency rather than innovation.  The Right – and the Republican Party – is trying to manage the decline by consolidating successes and attacking their opponent to limit the Left’s market share.
  • Expansion: The Left is behaving like a company within an expanding industry, making speculative investment to build for market growth, for competitive advantage within the emerging market. The Left is playing offense, innovating.  The political pendulum is swinging their way, and they are working to turn that momentum into permanent infrastructural gains.
  • Part of this centralization may derive from that fact that Republicans have held the presidency and much of Congress for the past 8 years, so there are a lot of high-powered stakeholders already in play.

    But Henke is hitting on a key theme here.  The constant emphasis upon Reagan in the Republican primary was a sign of the retrospective tendency of a lot of Republican thinking right now.  Part of the current situation may also reflect many on the right’s skepticism about McCain (such as his positions on immigration reform and campaign finance); they find it easier to attack Obama (whose policies they know they disapprove of) than defend McCain (whose policies they don’t know if they support).

    But that unhappiness with the McCain campaign provides even more incentive for “self-directed individuals to conduct their own activism.”  Don’t like some of his arguments against Obama?  Use your own.

    And fighting for Congress is a great way to try out some decentralized techniques.  There are a lot of Congressional races out there.  Surely you can find one or two that you like the candidate in.

    While Henke traces some of the right’s position in the election right now to the different political positions of the right and left: one is declining while the other is rising.  But it could also be said that the failure to have a slightly more decentralized model has been one of the causes for these differences in political fortunes, too.

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