By Jim Simpson
Seems the big boys are coming around to the point of view expressed by this blogger in an article posted in the wee hours Tuesday a.m. Remember you read it first here! In a conference at the Heritage Foundation later the same day, Tom DeLay predicted Hillary Clinton would win the White House. He also stated that Barack Obama would be her running mate. See the article about it at NewsMax.com, here. Since I'm scooping the big boys without any of their help, perhaps they'll take a little time to consider some serious advice from this humble servant.
DeLay has started his own web-based movement, Grassroots Action and Information Network, or GAIN. I considered joining this group, because DeLay is the most effective, committed and courageous conservative of any consequence out there today, whatever you think about his alleged "ethics" problems.
However, it costs $52.00 to "join." I find that extremely annoying. Why should I pay to volunteer? It is difficult enough to make the time and effort as it is right now. And while I would pay $52 many times over if I really believed I could get the man's ear on a regular basis, as his web promotion implies, the practical reality is that I would have as much input as the many thousands of other members he needs in order to make it a sustainable operation.
DeLay claims that his goal is to:
...reach out to the diverse coalition of conservative groups and bring them together to rival the coalition built by liberals (emphasis mine). Prior to the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, DeLay said he employed a similar strategy that the GOP has gradually abandoned.
This is a great concept, however his organization is dissimilar to Leftist organizations in that the Left finds clever ways to get adequate funding so they can fully concentrate on the task at hand without forcing their members to pony up "membership fees" in addition to working countless hours for free. In fact, because of these funding sources, many of these "volunteers" do not even work for free. They get paid! In that sense, few conservative organizations "rival the coalition built by liberals" because none of them, save perhaps the NRA, have the money.
Leftist groups receive huge donations from Hollywood, tycoons like George Soros, and in the case of the ACLU and probably many others below the radar screen, even subsidization from the federal government. Most large foundations have been captured by the Left, and provide very deep pockets for all kinds of leftist activism. The Legal Services Corporation, a federal agency with offices throughout the U.S., is essentially a federally funded nationwide partisan advocacy organization for radical leftist lawyers. Great!
The point is, the Left succeeds largely because their money problems were handled first. People who join their organizations are stakeholders in the truest sense of the word. In the heirarchy of needs, the primary ones, survival and security, are taken care of with a salary, however menial. The secondary ones, implied in the organization's goals, also animate these employees and even many volunteers, for they see themselves as part and parcel of the movement they are scheming to impose on the rest of us. Because of the Left's superior ability to communicate their message, these stakeholders also frequently have the satisfaction of seeing their support, financial and otherwise, bearing visible fruit in the public arena, either with news stories, law suits or legislation. Finally, they have a unified vision. It is a diseased vision, as far as I'm concerned, the evidence for which can be physically counted in the corpses of the world's gulags and killing fields. But it is a vision just the same, and they all share it.
We, on the other hand, are stakeholders in amorphous concepts like freedom, "limited" government, democracy and prosperity, concepts which often mean different things to different people. And while these are noble concepts, and while we recognize they are crucial to our continued existence as a nation, given the Left's superior organizational skills, they are drifting further and further from our grasp. We only have our hope, and right now, it is a thin thread of hope at that.
Organizations that rely on the constant support of a huge number of small donors, most of whom have full-time jobs, limited resources and scarce free time, usually must spend so much time just raising enough to keep going that they find little time to actually prosecute their stated mission. As an occasional donor to such groups, I find it exhausting to be constantly barraged with an endless array of solicitation letters, e-mails and phone calls from tiny groups wanting $25, $50, $100 or more, while I am meanwhile working independently till 1 or 2 am doing my volunteer part, knowing full well that if I donate some of my very limited funds to them, the money will most likely just disappear in a black hole of insignificance. So not only am I being constantly reminded of our sorry state of affairs, my limited ammunition is being squandered on Quixotic causes with little hope of success. This knowledge, in and of itself, is a psychological burden not suffered by the Left.
If we want to successfully fight these entrenched, highly organized and well funded groups, we need to create organizations and institutions that are similar--organizations not perennially hobbled by lack of funds, whose members are constantly forced to financially support them as well as man the barricades. George Washington's Continental Army was perenially plagued with shortages and lack of funding. As it was, soldiers were often volunteers in the truest sense of the word: they didn't get paid. Can you imagine the outcome if they had had to pay a membership fee too?
We need to become stakeholders with a vested immediate interest in the success of the organization. We need angels like George Soros. We need tax exempts like MoveOn.org, with the organizational skills, dedicated paid staff, and experienced, hardnosed partisan leaders. Examine the join up form on the MoveOn website. It costs nothing to join and you can easily volunteer with a click of your mouse. You can donate if you want, but it is not necessary.
Right now we are the victims of our own individualist philosophy. For this fight we need to start thinking like collectivists. Tom DeLay is one of the best partisan fighters out there. But his organization is destined to remain at the margins if it is to rely on the constant financial support of its members. He would be well advised to use his knowledge, connections and name recognition to get independent funding instead. As it is, he begins to look like just another of the countless political has beens, who start "nonprofit" organizations as a means of getting a meal ticket and staying in the game. I know he's not, but it looks that way.
If he is truly faithful to his stated goal, he should start an organization that really does rival those of the Left. It should reward, not penalize, membership. And the rest of us should seek to come together in a network devoted to taking the fight directly to the enemy, rather than exhausting ourselves chipping away at the margins in single issue advocacy groups who rarely accomplish anything. Perhaps then we can move out from behind the eight ball, where we always find ourselves when dealing with these seditious, destructive, but very effective Leftist organizations. Our future depends on it.
Freelance writer Jim Simpson is a former White House staff economist and budget analyst (1987-1993). His writings have been published in the Washington Times, FrontPage Magazine, DefenseWatch, Soldier of Fortune and others.