Lately it seems the tea party and a grassroots conservative movement that exists outside of the control of the republican party has accomplished a lot when it comes to using primaries to the right to push out establishment candidates and put up tea party candidates all over the nation.
The democratic party has had some primaries, but we’ve really only had 3 I can think of where liberal grassroots support of the more liberal candidate made a difference.
Obama vs. Hillary (Obama was seen as the more liberal candidate due to his opposition to the war, among other things. His victory over Clinton was arguably a primary from the left)
Sestak vs. Specter
Lincoln vs Halter (despite Halter losing, it was still a close run)
But by and large it doesn’t seem the dems have anywhere near the grassroots energy and mobilization that the GOP does to push out establishment candidates and replace them with more ideological ones.
So why is that? How did conservatives build such a powerful movement in 2 years?
With the tea party interrupting town hall debates, I don’t consider that ‘that’ impressive. There were far far more liberals marching against Iraq in 2003 than there ever were tea party members going to town hall meetings.
But the primaries from the right are extremely impressive. Liberals seem to know how to march and send letters, but politicans couldn’t give a shit about that. The only thing they really seem to fear is a primary opponent or losing in a general election, and conservatives seem far far better at the primary part (although, to the benefit of liberals, some of those candidates the tea party put up are so extreme they may lose the general. But they also may not).
I remember in the 2008 election the Obama campaign sent out a message that activists shouldn’t donate money and activist energy within the campaign rather than going to outside agencies (moveon, etc), and that those agencies shouldn’t run as many independent ads. I am insanely naive (and fairly new to poiltics, esp back then), because at the time I assumed there was some good intent behind that. But now that I’m a little wiser I realize the goal was to avoid what has happened with the tea party, the DNC and Obama administration did not want a well funded, well organized left wing activist movement that wasn’t under the control of the DNC out there. That is what the tea party is on the GOP isle (a powerful grassroots movement that the GOP can’t control).
So my questions are:
Have conservatives built a powerful grassroots movement in the last few years to engage in primaries from the right, or did that movement already exist before the tea party and all these primaries? These primaries seem to be recent, I don’t remember a time in recent history with so many anti-establishment primary upsets.
If they created it, how did they do it so fast? What role does opposition to Obama and a democratic supermajority play? What role did disappointment with the Bush administration play? What role did the economy play?
What role does opposition to any incumbent (dem or republican) play in this movement vs the desire for ideological purity?
Why are conservative grassroots primaries from the right so much more effective than primares from the left on the dem side? Or are they not, and it is just observer bias?