In the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, the Union Army of the Cumberland and the Battle of Chattanooga in 1863 provides a good example of what may be the future of political organizing in the country in the future.
It was during the battle that the Army of the Cumberland, without any orders or commands or led by generals or colonels, stormed up Missionary Ridge and drove the Confederates into headlong retreat. Everyone joined in the fighting: cooks, porters, clerks, and drummer boys, anyone who could carry a rifle or a flag. As described by Ulysses S. Grant “When those fellows get started all hell can’t stop them.” Indeed, what happened at Missionary Ridge was known as a “soldier’s battle”, a battle fought without officers.
In a way, I’m sure that’s the way the grassroots members of the Ron Paul campaign feel right now. Their officers may well be looking for a way out of the fight, looking to cut their deals with the winning side but the soldiers are engaging battle after battle, in state convention after state convention, are winning the delegates the official campaign say they want but perhaps don’t want for fear of continuously making the Romney campaign look like the hollow shell that it is.
Meanwhile, those in the grassroots who have taken over state Republican Party are finding themselves being deprived of funds and staffers and watching the national GOP set up “shadow” state parties to direct funds to. Some party loyalty. And they accuse the Paulites of being disruptive.
So be it. Let those who wish to cut their deals do so. Let those who wish to plot and disrupt do the same. Let Romney and Obama beat each other silly on the campaign trail. Those who created Ron Paul’s campaign from nothing five years ago will carry on. It was never the man himself or his family or whatever they worked so hard for but the ideas he brought forth. And they will do so with the opportunity to perhaps create a new kind of political structure within the broad outlines two-party system but in an entirely different political culture.