DeLay Invents The Internet
Step one on their agenda should definitely be to raise some cash to buy the domain name "gain.org" from the folks who've had it parked for some years now. They'll surely be asking for a pretty penny once they see who's coming after it.
As it is, headquartering your "grassroots" organization's website at tomdelay.com is practically an admission that it's got nothing to do with principles and everything to do with trying to forge a new cult of personality. Step one in convincing recruits that your "movement" is independent of the individual behind it is to NOT NAME ITS WEBSITE AFTER YOU. As it is, any conservatives who might be interested in such an organization, but who may be hesitant about hitching their wagon to Tom DeLay's horse are automatically excluded from this group. It's not like he's just the president of their board of directors or something - the group's website IS HIS PERSONAl HOMEPAGE. How is this "grassroots?"
He's also going to have difficulties with the fact that any online political advocacy group, whether conservative or liberal, could accurately (and thus, legally) describe themselves in a grammatically correct sentence using his group's full name. For example: "MoveOn.org is a grassroots activist and information network." Thus anyone can water down his group's name, and he can't stop them. You can't legally trademark the correct use of the English language.
What's worse is that the site seems to express a confused attempt to capitalize on something that progressives have been doing well for quite a while now, and as such, doesn't seem completely clear how to define its boundaries. Is it the home page for a vote-drive network? A fundraising network? Is it Tom DeLay's personal website? His blog? A conservative blogger site in general? Is it about getting Republicans elected or is it about defining conservative principles? DeLay doesn't seem clear on what the differences are between these kind of sites. He just knows that "online activism" and "the blogosphere" are useful and effective modern political tools, so he wants one for himself: "Welcome to TomDeLay.com and thank you for visiting my new blog." Ooh look, it's just dripping with cachet!
Another problem is that unless DeLay has had a total personal change of heart, his site is already lying to us. Consider the following blurb: "Conservatives must act on First Principles. We must organize and act to protect the very principles of: order, justice and freedom that are the touchstones of our founding documents. We must act to speed the return of our government to its constitutional roots and we must organize to protect our freedoms from those who wish to deny them to us." Well, I'm all for that. I couldn't agree more. In fact, if I ever believed a word of it, I might even sign up myself.
Nearly all of the ethical and logical problems with the current state of conservative thought can be traced to a disconnect between first principles and present implementation. However, DeLay is himself one of the leading architects of that break. As Speaker of the House during some of the ugliest years that body has ever seen, he personally orchestrated the prevailing Republican policy that power is its own end. Under that policy, the principles of conservativism themselves are nothing more than tools to be cynically used and exploited as means to shore up his own personal power. Traditionally conservative principles have all suffered as a direct result of his tenure in office; not only the aforementioned order, justice and freedom, but also opportunity, liberty, and support for families as the essential atomic unit of American society.
The website is quite correct to say that "The election of 2006 was an example of what happens to a party and a movement when we fail to fight for the principles that brought us together in the first place." I would only add that this is what happens when you allow yourselves to be led by those who would gladly sacrifice those principles for their own sheer personal power. In doing so, DeLay, Gingrich, Hastert and many others (whether in the White House, Congress or the mainstream media) have twisted what at their core were once quite reasonable principles reflecting a cautious approach to American policy into a set of laughably distorted dogmatic "values" which reflect only the ability of the Republican leadership to manipulate a large portion of the electorate by obfuscating the issues. Here's a quick hint: every time a so-called "conservative leader" says we should re-think any of the provisions of the Constitution, that it's somehow patriotic to give up liberty for an illusion of safety, all true conservatives should be the first to shout "treason!" back. Or are you waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to come after your guns before you'll speak up?
But the biggest problem DeLay is going to have is trying to convince anyone that he's an outsider, a populist rabble rouser invading Washington from the farmland. Not that he isn't trying: "Over the course of my political life I have learned many things, one of which is that not all good ideas come from Washington, D.C.. In fact I think that most of the best ideas come from concerned citizens from all over the United States. Unfortunately, many D.C. insiders are simply incapable of looking outside the capital beltway for fresh opinions and new approaches that might otherwise help our nation." Now I want you all to repeat the following to yourself for at least the next ten years, because he's counting on us all forgetting one very important point: the only reason that DeLay is not presently a Washington insider is because he got kicked out for being completely corrupt.
This organization isn't a grassroots effort of any kind. It has nothing to do with conservative principles. It exists solely to lay the groundwork for a future attempt to resurrect DeLay's political career from the ashes of its self-immolation. Someday, when we've become accustomed to a new generation of incumbents and problems, and have allowed ourselves to forget what things were like under his tenure in office, DeLay expects to reappear in a new guise, as the outsider populist, the right-wing blogger and grassroots organizer who is going to bring Washington back to long-forgotten conservative principles. Kind of like Newt Gingrich is attempting to do now, only with a great deal more foresight.
Perhaps the first of these conservative first principles should be to stop allowing themselves to be cynically exploited by self-aggrandizing criminal users like DeLay.
Conservatism deserves better than this.