The Spectacle Blog

Kathy Shaidle on ‘Rebuilding’

By on 1.23.09 | 7:45AM

Taking a few shots at David Frum's New Majority, the blogger/columnist writes:

Alas, too many of these "rebuilding" enterprises share a misguided focus that's also bound to be the seed of their own undoing: that is, an obsession with "winning elections." NewMajority's slogan, for example, is "Building a conservatism that can win again." But what good is "winning" if the "conservatism" that "wins" is faddish, unprincipled and unmoored from traditional American, Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism? [B]ack in the early sixties, it was grassroots activist and housewife Phyllis Schlafly's self-published, million-selling anti-GOP Establishment book, A Choice Not An Echo, that led to Goldwater, who led to Reagan. Not bad for a small-town mom running an accidental movement from her kitchen table, without email, the web -- or any support from Party bigshots. Unless the "new GOP" is run bottom up, by the grass/net roots, it is doomed to fail.

Shaidle (who blogs at Five Feet of Fury) somewhat inflates Schlafly's role in the '64 Goldwater movement -- which was built by Young Americans for Freedom, Cliff White, William Middendorf, Bill Buckley and many others -- although there is no doubt that "A Choice Not An Echo" was a major factor in galvanizing grassroots support. As to the larger point, Kathy is correct that the GOP in recent years has tended toward a top-down method of operation that drained enthusiasm from the grassroots.

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