Patrick Ruffini and Mark Tapscott have must-reads for political junkies this weekend. Ruffini explains how those complaining that the right does not have an equivalent of the liberal netroots are not looking at how they came to be.
Who is jealous of who here? YearlyKos, and also the Take Back America Conference, were almost certainly borne of the question “Where is our CPAC?” Some of those covering this act as though the idea of a conference with thousands of grassroots activists and Presidential candidates falling all over themselves to speak is totally unheard of on the right. Um, no. The netroots was built on Xeroxing the Goldwater-Reagan Revolution in the Republican Party. Almost always, it was conservatives who were the initial innovators.
When covering the netroots vs. the rightroots, reporters look at things through a particular frame that by definition excludes the vast majority of grassroots activity on the right. For something to be newsworthy in this space, it must be blog-based, it must have emerged in the last five years, and it must be focused on elections over legislative or policy outcomes.
The problem with this angle is that most of the conservative institutions online emerged in the late Clinton Administration or immediately after 9/11. At their peak, they were larger than Daily Kos, and arguably some still are. And they rarely receive any scrutiny because they don’t fit the frame. From a macro movement-building perspective, the left catching us to us is being covered as a need for us to catch up with something the left has invented anew.
And despite how unfair that narrative is, there’s something to it. The conservative analog to YearlyKos is 30 years old. The 800lb. gorillas of the conservative Web initially went online in the 1995-97 timeframe. And many have failed to innovate. They are still Web 1.0, where the Left jumped directly into Web 2.0 in the Bush years.Mark Tapscott gives some more perspective about the history of left and right activism:
Let me offer an additional frame of reference for this discussion: The so-called “New Left” of the Sixties Generation were the darlings of the mainstream media back then and have remained a powerful symbol in the conventional wisdom’s version of that decade.
But while the New Left was burning down American college campuses and helping condemn Southeast Asia to decades of communist tyranny, those of us in the conservative movement on campus were far more numerous and after we graduated, married and started families, got jobs and put down neighborhood roots, we helped elect a president, Ronald Reagan, who actually changed America for the better, won the Cold War and put most of our issues front and center on the nation’s political agenda.
The New Left generation can claim no comparable achievements. None. Nada. Zero.
The difference is the mainstream media is continually pushing its conventional wisdom narrative of the New Left as the central historical fact of the Sixties while ignoring all those legions of YAFers, College Republicans, ISIers and other young Reaganauts.Read both excellent pieces.