The EFM Feature

Great post, Charles. There’s one more thing I’d like to add regarding the great “Who Supports An Amendment That Can’t Possibly Happen in the Next Presidency” debate of 2008: I think a lot of our guys at the grassroots aren’t all that savvy beyond the pond they swim in.
Ever since a slice of the so-called “conservative elite” rejected Sarah Palin (often for reasons that I also thought were ridiculous, cultural, and condescending), I’ve heard never-ending diatribes from activists about “out of touch” beltway conservatives, who just “don’t get it.”
But . . . how “in touch” are our grassroots? I’d argue that they’re definitely in touch with the grassroots base. But beyond that? Not so much.
Throughout the last presidential campaign season (until I left for Iraq), I met with grassroots conservative activists, corresponded with those activists, and (frequently) argued with them. While they knew what “their people” wanted, they were often shockingly wrong about “the people” or “America.” Statements like, “America won’t elect a socialist like Barack Obama” were often delivered with a kind of obvious, “two plus two equals four” authority. In fact, the grassroots activists seemed to have remarkably little familiarity with broader American opinions and cultural trends.
Why is that? Well, activists everywhere live in their own cocoons. There is no question that beltway types often lose touch with “Flyover Country.” But, by the same token, the “grassroots” has little familiarity with folks beyond their own constituency.
This doesn’t mean that the grassroots activist is unimportant. Far from it. Those are the guys who do the lion’s share of the work in any political campaign, and if they’re not with you, then you are most likely not going to win. You can’t win without your grassroots.
But the folks on the ground also need to taste some humble pie. Just because you live in, say, Birmingham doesn’t mean that you know what people in Cleveland think or even what’s driving the non-activists who live in your own community. Understand that your perspective can be as skewed by your surroundings as the Beltway elitists’ perspective is skewed by their perch. And sometimes the Beltway types actually have greater access to information regarding national trends.
Simply put, we need each other, no one is as savvy as they think, and arrogance from either side won’t win back the White House.

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