This weekend the progressive movement is holding their annual “unconference” called “Rootscamp”. Every year progressive activists, campaign staffers, and organizational leaders from groups like OFA, SEIU, Media Matters, Emily’s List, the DCCC, and other progressive entities gather together to share their stories and experiences, learn from each other, and study what happened during the last election cycle.
Conservatives and the Right Wing should look to this conference and quickly make use of this model to improve how campaigns are run and how to beat the liberals.
But first I suppose it should be necessary to explain the psychology of a progressive. A progressive believes that there are problems in society and that those problems can largely be solved by more government intervention and aid. To make sure that those problems are solved, the progressive must use government to do so. To get into government you have to win elections to make sure that someone is in a place that can solve those problems, i.e. elected official.
Rootscamp, therefore, is the synthesis of organizers, practitioners, consultants, and activists learning from each other about the past campaign season. What worked? What didn’t work? What did we learn from this year? How can we improve for next year?
I first learned of Rootscamp from the New Organizing Institute. The New Organizing Institute is probably the closest the left has to Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute but the NOI does things a bit differently.
As far as I can tell, the only opportunities that the right has to this caliber for training are three or four organizations’ training programs, the Leadership Institute, FreedomWorks, and the Republican National Committee. What I don’t see is the right’s attempt at a synergy of many different groups working together to perfect and improve the way they run campaigns. This is important because the left’s work together has put the Obama campaign and others years ahead in the development of big data techniques, improving on grassroots organizing, and overall campaign techniques.
Does the Right and Conservative movement need something similar? The answer is of course, YES! Here are three reasons why.
- Conservatives that gather together will benefit from shared experiences and will learn best practices. Politics is all about people. It’s about creating a movement and attracting others to the same cause. All organizations who are concerned with the principles of conservatism should learn from each other. What does, for example the RNC do really well? How can Freedomworks help organize the Grassroots? Can the Leadership Institute help us refine our message through media training?
- Conservatives that gather together will create a culture of constant improvement and refinement. Once you learn something you have to put it into practice. Once you put it into practice you’ll naturally be inclined to improve upon the existing techniques, technologies, and practices learned. What’s important to note is that the big-data usage and analysis that won the campaign for Barack Obama’s second term, had origins in the New Organizing Institute. Given our hard work and knowledge of campaigns surely we can benefit from constantly improving our methods and means, and will give ourselves the opportunity to develop better tools and techniques.
- Conservatives that gather together will bring new people into the movement and grow our base of activists. Creating our own Rootscamp will be small perhaps at the very beginning. This is to be expected. Thinking long term however, such a conference must be developed so our way of campaigning can improve and our results be better. The one benefit that I can see above all others is the fact that more people will be drawn to the movement of conservatism, be better prepared to either run for office or help another who wants to run. We must grow our number of activists, qualified staffers, consultants, and organizers so that we have a larger army of fighters for limited government, low taxes, and fiscal responsibility.
The fact of the matter is that these “unconferences” have been going on for the better part of seven or so years. The left has the edge in the sense that they have cared enough to refine their craft, develop better technology, better trained organizers, and created a culture of being dedicated to win. Conservatives that care about our principles should endeavor to do the same thing.
I’ve said my piece. What do you think of the idea? Should we do something similar? How should we do it? What should we call it? Let me know in the comments section below.