From last January in MoJo:
Harry Riley has a dream. On the morning of May 16, somewhere between 10 and 30 million (estimates vary) God-fearing patriots will assemble in Washington, DC, for what Riley, a retired Army colonel from the Florida panhandle, is calling “Operation American Spring.” They’ll protest outside the White House by day and set up in campgrounds and RV parks outside the city by night. They won’t leave until President Barack Obama, along with Attorney General Eric Holder and congressional leaders of both parties, resign and appear before a specially convened investigative tribunal for further disciplinary action—a polite version of a tea party coup. It’s not likely to happen—but two former Fox News personalities have endorsed the endeavor.
“We have 1.8 million definite militia members coming,” promises Operation American Spring spokeswoman Karen Smith. (The Anti-Defamation League pegs the number of American militia members at about 20,000.) “Other than that, we’re not keeping a list of concerned people or whatever because how are we gonna do that?”
According to Riley’s introductory note, which he posted on Facebook, about 1 million activists will stick around DC after the march in a nonviolent attempt to shut the city down. According to the the document, the real work will occur after the transfer of power: “Those with the principles of a West, Cruz, Lee, DeMint, Paul, Gov Walker, Sessions, Gowdy, Jordan, Issa, will comprise a tribunal and assume positions of authority to convene investigations, recommend appropriate charges against politicians and government employees to the new U.S. Attorney General appointed by the new President.”
Riley’s backers are an eclectic bunch. Erik Rush, a conservative columnist and occasional Fox News analyst who starred in Sean Hannity’s 2012 special The Real Barack Obama, has promoted the event on his website and his radio show. Jim Garrow, a conspiracy theorist who predicted that Obama would attempt to distract from the group’s message by revealing the existence of extraterrestrial life, is also on board. Retired Gen. Paul Vallely, who was Fox News’ senior military analyst during the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan—a period in which he closely coordinated with Pentagon officials—gave the event a thumb’s up in a radio interview.
Woo wee! That sounds like it was gonna be a really big shindig. But the 16th was last Friday. I wonder what all I missed.
An event slated for Friday that promised to bring millions of Americans to Washington, D.C. to oust President Barack Obama and other key leaders from office failed incredibly.
Instead, “Operation American Spring” welcomed only a few dozen protesters — not the millions projected by event organizers — who braved the morning’s stormy weather to hit the streets of the nation’s capital and call for a change of leadership in key roles.
“It’s a very dismal turnout,” one participant from Texas, Jackie Milton, told the Washington Times.
This kinda reminds me of the heady days of PUMA. Neither group had a hope in hell of achieving their lofty goals, but the participants didn’t seem to know it.
I never really expected PUMA to amount to much, but I didn’t say so at the time because I didn’t want to piss all over other peoples hopes. The whole thing was doomed when Hillary ended her campaign and endorsed Barack Obama. She literally sold out her supporters in exchange for the Secretary of State job.
PUMA had no clear leader or unity of purpose. Without Hillary, PUMA had no purpose other than to protest the way the Democratic party stole our votes. It had no institutional or media support.
PUMA was too small. Some claimed 18 million members, but that’s ridiculous. Let’s be generous and say that at it’s peak, PUMA had 10,000 members. That would be counting every regular visitor on every PUMA blog. But nobody ever compiled a list of members that was even a fraction of that number.
PUMA only existed in the blogosphere. Its members were scattered across the country. As we have seen time and again, internet activism never translates into the same level of real world support. But let’s say that PUMA was different and that all 10,000 members were dedicated activists.
10,000 people might win a local election, or swing a close congressional race, but a bunch of nobodies spread thin across 57 states simply could not have much influence. Nor did they.
It’s terribly unfair, but some people will always have more influence than others. Bazillionaires like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Tom Steyer and George Soros can easily contribute millions of dollars to candidates and causes each year. Jon Stewart has an audience of millions. Media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Arthur Sulzberger don’t make the news, but they control what is in it. If you believe that the wealthy owners of the major media outlets in the country don’t influence the flow of information, I gotta bridge to sell you.
Take a close look at all the political movements in the country in recent history. The successful ones had more than just a cause. Take the Civil Rights movement. It was not spontaneous, it was organized by the NAACP and was centered in the black churches. The NAACP is an organization of black professionals. The movement also had financial and political support from white liberals.
With all of that it going for it it still took many years of sustained effort to succeed.
My point is that it takes a lot more than just a cause to make a successful movement. And that assumes that your cause will attract widespread support. If you’re gonna start a revolution you better have a plan and lots of friends to help you. I mean real life friends, not Facebook friends.