fresh voices from the front lines of change







“I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don’t know it’s over until you’re in a body bag. You don’t know until election night.” — Ralph Reed

I don’t know why nobody’s paying attention to what the far right is doing in this election, but Adele Stan at Alternet is documenting it. She attended Karl Rove’s billionaire financed Americans for Prosperity conference this week-end and filed a report. It’s long and it’s well-worth reading, but this stuck out for me:

At a breakout session titled “Battlefront Wisconsin: What Worked, and How to Repeat It,” Luke Hilgemann, director of Americans For Prosperity’s Wisconsin chapter, showed off the organization’s winning ground strategy, which combined whiz-bang technology with the application of old-fashioned shoe leather, together with some tight messaging that was likely focus-group-tested.

AFP activists were outfitted with iPad-like tablet devices that featured artfully phrased survey questions respondents could answer on the tablet’s touch screen. AFP foot soldiers took these tablets with them to households identified by the kind of micro-targeting strategies used by Web advertisers. (For more detail on these strategies, see our July report, Religious Right’s Ralph Reed Field-Tests Plan to Defeat Obama.) Using the tablet’s GPS feature, activists are directed to particular homes in a given neighborhood, based on the micro-targeted voter database that AFP has assembled.

Hilgemann said that Americans For Prosperity activists knocked on 75,000 doors and made 50,000 calls in the days leading up to the recall election.

As Ralph Reed, a former business partner of Americans For Prosperity President Tim Phillips, explained to activists at his Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in June, the polling that predicted a tight race in the recall election between Walker and Barrett was wrong because the polling models did not account for the uptick in right-wing turnout that vote-wranglers like Phillips and Reed made happen.

Phillips noted with pride that the AFP Wisconsin chapter now has “more grassroots activists than the Wisconsin teachers’ union has members.” And if Wisconsin activists could do all that, so could AFP activists around the country, officials told conference attendees throughout the two-day confab.

For many in attendance, the highlight of the weekend was a Friday night speech delivered by Scott Walker, whose career was shaped by Americans For Prosperity going back to the days when he was the elected executive of Milwaukee County. In his speech, Walker cast himself as a David against a labor-backed Goliath in the days when the state erupted in an uprising in February 2011, after Walker sent a bill to the legislature that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for the state’s public employees.

Nah, nothing to see here…

Again, this is the kind of organizing that could pay off this fall but is far more likely to come to full fruition in the 2016 election. Unlike liberal donors, who either get bored or frustrated when the world doesn’t immediately turn on their dime, the conservatives fund their infrastructure for the long term.

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