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Friday, May 30, 2008

The Next Right; An Introduction

I've been wanting to post on this topic, but I wanted to look up this introduction first. It was dated May 7th. 

I'm not recommending anything other than you look at what The Next Right stands for and has to say - from there, we will see what happens. 

- Cyber Pastor 

by Patrick Ruffini

Today, we’re giving a sneak peek into something new on the right side of the blogosphere: an online community for change-minded activists and hardcore political junkies in the conservative movement. We’re calling it The Next Right. We’ll be launching in a few weeks, and you can sign up to get an email when we do.

My partners in this endeavor are already well known to you if you’re a fan of savvy, fact-driven political blogging: Jon Henke of QandO and recently a consultant to the Fred Thompson campaign, and Soren Dayton of RedState and Eye on ‘08 fame and all too briefly of the McCain campaign. 

Here’s why we’re doing this, and here’s why it’s different.

It’s no secret that the right operates at a severe disadvantage to the left when it comes to building online political infrastructure. People point to ActBlue and Obama’s massive fundraising advantage, but the problem cuts deeper: netroots activists on the left have built critical mass around an idea that regular people on the Internet can get their hands dirty and remix Democratic politics. They not only raise money. They recruit candidates. They fund full-time investigative journalism to ambush Republicans. They act as a party whip, creating consequences for Democrats who, in their view, don’t act like Democrats. They volunteer and flock to states with key races. The right can build all the tools it wants, but without a narrative and a rallying point for action, it will be for naught.

Part of the problem is structural. When the conservative blogosphere first emerged, we were in the midst of a political upswing, with back-to-back-to-back victories in 2000, 2002, and 2004. Political activism wasn’t going to be a comparative advantage for the right online. Most were content just being pundits or media critics. This trend was reinforced by the blogosphere’s success in scalping Dan Rather, part of a series of new media-driven events that arguably changed the trajectory of the 2004 election.

Ever since then, a radically different set of circumstances has dominated our politics. It’s one that requires a substantially different response — one that requires us to stop being pundits and start being change agents.

Put simply, the party, and in many cases, the movement, has lost its moorings. Earmarks exploded ten-fold, and it wasn’t under a Democratic Congress. In this winter’s primary, we saw the once mighty fiscal-social-national conservative coalition turned in on itself, with economic conservatives pitted against social conservatives. And too many of the “experts” in the Presidential campaigns this cycle failed to modernize the way the party does business, clinging to the old top-down rostrums of direct mail and fundraising-by-cocktail-party in an increasingly networked and crowdsourced world.

It’s no wonder that Joe Conservative outside the Beltway feels that none of his self appointed “leaders” are listening to him. He looks to Washington and sees a leadership class that is too often arrogant, timid, divided, and technologically behind the curve. It’s no wonder why this year more than most his wallet has been sealed shut when it comes to supporting Republican candidates — even the good ones.  

We’re calling the site The Next Right because much of this story will be written in the future tense. Our analysis will be as much about looking ten and fifteen years down the road as it will be about dissecting the mechanics of the 2008 contest. What are the coalitions, strategies, and tactics the right needs to win again? How does the party need to change to attract a generation of voters who could very well be lost to us if we don’t move fast? Where do we find the candidates who will lead a resurgent right in the 2010 and 2012 elections and beyond? The vibrant discussion Soren, Jon, and many others had about the future of the movement last spring and summer would be perfect fodder for this new venture.

If you’re looking for pure-play opinion and link bait on sundry topics from Ann Coulter to Jimmy Carter/Hamas, you won’t find it here. What you will find is in-depth (often unabashedly technical) writing about the election, the polls, the strategy, and the issues. Our analysis will track truth and stay true to the numbers. But it will self-consciously serve a greater purpose — educating YOU to be your own political strategist and start doing something — whether that’s blogging about your local Congressional race or Democratic corruption in your state, organizing fundraising drives, and maybe even managing races or running for office yourself. Only a revival of civic engagement at the grassroots level will create a conservative future we want: one that is pork-free and robust in the defense of our country and its values. We can’t call a switchboard and wait for Washington to fix the mess. We have to do it ourselves, from the ground up, in every state.

In that spirit, we’re opening the doors to anyone who wants to blog on The Next Right. Users will be able to create their own blogs on the site, an ability only a handful of conservative sites offer today. We’re also looking for a great stable of front-page writers who can write smart, savvy analysis on a consistent basis — email us if you think you fit the bill. We want to open this up as much as possible. It can’t just be about the three of us, or it will fail.

I’m pumped about this new venture. The last few months have seen a considerable amount of backchannel discussion between the thought leaders about the sorry state of online activism on the right — often with great agreement on a direction moving forward. The good news is that the talent is there. I’ve long relied on Soren and Jon for high-level political analysis, and by bringing it under one roof and opening the door to more people, we hope this quickly becomes a hub right-leaning junkies like you.   

We don’t think this alone will solve the activism gap. Anyone who tells you that they alone have the answer is fooling you. This is not “the Daily Kos of the right.” What we’re hoping to do is create momentum and an intellectual framework for action — because action ultimately starts with narratives and ideas. We want grassroots conservatives and libertarians to start believing that they can make a difference again — a sense all too many have lost. Only you – and not some well-funded 527 — can bring the movement into the future. Only when grassroots conservative have a direct stake in the future of the party are we effective. The Next Right is about creating a vision for a 21st century Republican Party and conservative movement.

On a personal note, you should finally see me blogging more, though not at PatrickRuffini.com. I’ve committed to moving all my purely political content to The Next Right, and will be setting up my RSS feed to automagically redirect you to my writings there. I’ll still keep some personal and tech stuff here, but most of my stuff will be there.

We hope you’ll join us in taking the next right.