Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Revolution Is Won... Only to Be Lost?

So I wasn't the only blogger noticing last weekend's bucket full of crazy... And what it means for November. Conservative blogger Orrin Johnson again lashed out at the Ron Paul "Revolutionaries" now taking over the Nevada Republican Party. And yes, he's worried about that silly little election coming up this fall.

Let’s review. The purpose of a political party is to help candidates from that party win elections. Period. If you can’t influence election outcomes, you are irrelevant in politics and policy debates. Party members, committees, and delegates don’t set tax rates, ratify treaties, confirm judges, pass or repeal regulations, produce budgets, select cabinet appointments, or in any other way directly control the actual policies which govern our everyday lives and our economic futures.

The only way a party influences actual policy is if it influences elections. The only way for a party to do that is to have power and influence over who runs and who can get elected. Traditionally, parties do that by raising money for candidates, and by making themselves indispensable to the actual job of winning an election via volunteers, influence, credibility, and resources like walk lists, voter rolls, and precinct maps.

The Ron Paul Revolutionaries, however have shown a remarkable INability to accomplish any of the things that influences candidates.

And this is why establishment Republicans are panicking. As we had discussed on Monday, the Nevada GOP is set to fail in its biggest duty as a state party, which is to put together the field game necessary to elect candidates. When the party fails to focus on setting up that necessary field game, then what's the point of having a state party in the first place?

Honestly, I feel bad for poor Orrin... Just a little. Before I moved here to Nevada, I sometimes had to deal with "emo-prog" types who cared more about promoting "BOLD PROGRESSIVES!!!" than winning elections. And it was just painful to watch.

As you've often read here, I'm quite far to the left myself. Yes, I'll happily admit I'm a "fire breathing liberal". However, I'm also a liberal/progressive who likes winning elections. And yes, winning elections doesn't happen by just demanding "purity" and throwing a temper tantrum when that doesn't happen. Believe it or not, temper tantrums don't win elections. This is something we often have to grapple with on the left, but now we're seeing this unfold on the right at a level that I've never seen before.

As much as some grassroots folks on the left and the right love to see epic ideological battles unfold at party conventions and purge all "unsavory moderates" out of their respective parties, the fact of the matter is that doing that gets us no closer to winning elections. (If anything, that HURTS efforts to win elections.) While it's always important to promote the values we believe in and hold fast to them, we can't punish political parties for focus on party building while perhaps shirking "ideology enforcement" duties. After all, the first responsibility of a political party is to build the infrastructure necessary to win elections.

At times, we on the left have not seen eye to eye with Nevada State Democratic Party leaders. And yes, we sometimes get irritated when they seem to favor moderate candidates over "BOLD PROGRESSIVES!!!" However, most of us also realize that getting 70-90% of what we want is far better than getting nothing, so we leave Fantasy-land behind and return to the real world & return to working the field to win elections.

And this is why Orrin Johnson is panicking. Ron Paul's supporters care deeply for their libertarian beliefs, and they're set to accept nothing less than full fealty to those beliefs. But in pursuing complete ideological purity, they're also set to lose a whole lot of elections because they simply don't care about that stuff. This is why Nevada Republicans are in such dire straits. And it should serve as an important lesson to all the rest of us trying to balance ideological wishes with political reality.

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