We'll leave the assumption of the GOP's "common sense values" for another time. But the merging of the efforts by the NSR, which failed once before to rid the party of Arshinkoff by a 2-1 vote, and an infant national group is of central concern at the county's Republicans' front office. Arshinkoff has gotten an earlier start than usual in filling the county's 474 precincts with his loyalists, and his opponents have been busy trying to match that number. For now, the chairman is withholding his judgment until the Feb. 18 filing deadline to compare the numbers."I won't have a clear picture of the situation until I see how those numbers turn out," he says. The winners of the May 4 election will form the party's central committee that will vote later on the chairmanship.
But the national precinct group has already moved to develop a strong base at the precinct level. It boasted to the New York Times that it now has a coordinator in "nearly every state to recruit Tea Party activists ..." Although the NPA withdrew it s support from the past weekend's first National Tea Party Convention in Nashville over a disagreement on how the gate receipts would be spent, it nevertheless considers itself a major player in tapping the pool of tea baggers while their frustration is at peak levels.
Grass roots politics aren't new. Seldom does a campaign appear on the scene that doesn't claim grass roots support. It is usually built on rhetoric that provides the prospective voter an ad hoc kinship with the candidate and clearly is in the realm of polite politics. Quite often, the result is all grass and no roots, particularly when the same voters fail to see any progress and grow more cynical.
Back in the early 60s , the John Birch Society, an outrageous rightwing outfit that cast President Eisenhower as a comsymp , insisted that its success must begin at the precinct level. Its founder, Robert Welch, a New England candy manufacturer, directed his charge at Communists (the Tea Baggers' socialists of today?) and declared in his manifesto called The Blue Book that the U.S surely is in the hands of the Reds, which scared the hell out of lot of people. "We are out to get a million members truly dedicated to the things in which we believe," he wrote. That would be a major effort, he said, "but there are a million good patriots, who are also men and women of good will and good character and humane conscience in America, who are just waiting to join in the John Birch Society as fast we can can carry the story to them."
The first step he demanded, was to organize at the precinct level and infiltrate local governments - school boards, councils, whatever - with true believers.
Is history repeating itself? Inevitable.