I had a discussion with a colleague yesterday regarding my earlier post on Republican netroots (or the seeming lack thereof) that helped me look at the subject from a new angle, and got me wondering whether what we’re seeing isn’t reflective of broader changes in society at large.
His point was that I was half right — that it’s true that the GOP doesn’t have netroots, but that’s because it doesn’t really need netroots. That’s because it already has well-established venues for organizing that it can take advantage of: churches, chambers of commerce, and civic organizations (Rotary Clubs, Elks, etc.). These social institutions have always been friendly to conservative organizing, so that’s where the conservative politicos go to connect with their activists. The Democrats, lacking any such analogous institutions, have had to invent their own through fora such as Meetup, which helps explain the predominance of Democrats among politically-minded Meetuppers.
I think he’s on to something, mostly because it’s not like Democrats never had such institutions. For most of the last century, in most communities, the local Democratic institution to counter the chamber of commerce would have been the union hall. The decline of organized labor, though, has dealt the organization of the Democratic Party a blow from which it has yet to really recover. So maybe that’s why Democrats have taken to netroots more naturally and fluidly than Republicans have — because they’ve gone so long without the kind of institutional connective tissue a party needs to function properly.
Any Republican readers out there care to comment on this theory? That’s what the comments area is for…Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at October 01, 2003
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