Free Northerner published an article today about how he would spend $142 million on a one-shot campaign to do as much damage to the professional left as possible. This post will make no sense until you go and read it.
The comment section has criticized him for it, so I will try not to jump on the bandwagon of people telling him that it can’t be done. I will instead explain how much his laudable goals are likely to cost, and what the likely challenges are going to be. At the end, I will suggest some more practical models for the near term.
Political advertising in the US is heavily regulated.
It is less regulated as it relates to issue advertising relative to candidate-based advertising. Message-based ads are basically unrestricted so long as you disclose what entity they’re coming from upon the ad itself. One reason why the political ad budgets often become so high is because it is inherently oppositional advertising.
In the private sector, advertisers look to own and then maintain a monopoly on a particular product that satisfies a particular unique selling proposition. It is usually a losing proposition to run a competitive ad campaign against a rival unless you truly possess a special advantage.
In politics, if you’re attempting to get your candidate to win over the competitor, you need to overcome all the competitors gunning for the same seat.
Given that Free Northerner isn’t looking to win any elections, but instead to run essentially a war propaganda campaign, the calculus becomes different: It becomes less about competing for an electoral seat and more about creating conditions favorable conditions for secession.
- The salary estimations are off. You will not poach private sector talent earning $150,000+ per year offering such low pay. $2 million for a tech team gets you about four years of burn rate with a startup-scale team who will not necessarily have the execution capability that you would want. Because this would be marketing based you would run out of budget almost immediately and would need to devote most efforts to raising funds to raise more funds — the usual non-profit death cycle.
- Further, there are almost no right-wingers in PR/media/advertising with the digital talent to volunteer during election times, which is what Obama benefited supremely from, especially through alliances at Facebook.
- The left is performing better in elections because it has access to top digital talent. The right is a gerentocracy that relies upon AM radio, a cable TV network, and direct mail. The web talent is laughably bad. Open up the Daily Caller on a mobile device and count how many seconds it takes to load. PJMedia nor Breitbart even have responsive websites. Right wing wonder boy Drudge has not even bothered to update his antiquated page, demonstrating the retrograde attitude to design that is endemic on the right wing.
The left dominates the education system, the newspapers, the entertainment industry, the information technology industry, and advertising. This immediately chokes off most of your potential recruits, especially in the younger generation.
You can reach more people through FB than through some network cable slot…
Facebook’s CPMs vary based on whom you are targeting, but they trend within a similar band as Fox News (usually lower). Running unpaid campaigns on Facebook is going to become increasingly less viable as they reduce organic reach for Pages, a development that has been ongoing for two years. If you scroll down to this 2013 Pew Cable survey, you’ll see that Fox News average CPM is just above $4. I would expect to pay that much or a little less for a non-retargeted, premium Facebook audience segment on the news feed.
Late night FNC is probably significantly cheaper than a Facebook campaign, and targets a wealthier (albeit older) audience. You can get significantly cheaper space on FB and elsewhere through retargeting, though — getting good rates on the internet requires skill & expertise. And skill & expertise do not come cheap.
In communications, people who are nonprofessionals get raped with higher rates and tend to not realize how and why they are being ultra-fucked. This is the case with every medium. They are all complex and opaque and figure out ways to screw the inexperienced & inept as efficiently as possible.
Create a small fund (say $500k) that the aforementioned bloggers (or just regular Joes) can apply to have expenses paid for doing investigative work on a potential anti-leftist/Democrat lead.
Again, this does not go far. Investigative journalism becomes expensive rapidly, especially because of travel costs and other non-obvious expenses. Further, the cost of promoting a story once you publish it is nontrivial. The NYT, WaPo, and other publications will spend more than $500k on a single investigative feature.
Similarly, PIs are expensive (I know because I worked as a ghetto unlicensed corporate PI for a little while). Lawyers bid their rates beyond what ordinary people can afford — although it does not take much other than inordinate patience, autism, and a lack of ethics to train up someone into becoming a good one.
Rates for PIs start at maybe $50/hour, and investigations are both tedious and inordinately time-consuming. It is not a good task for volunteers for this reason.
Next, hire a couple dozen ideologically conservative reporters at $50k a piece (plus investigative expenses)
Nickel-and-diming the front line talent is one of the reasons why every conservative media operation that is not owned by Rupert Murdoch is a clown show. You get what you pay for. I really mean this. Nickel-and-diming wears down even the most promising talent, prevents them from being able to develop experience, causes churn, and produces drama within the organization.
There are also almost no ideologically conservative reporters. I know of one family of conservative reporters of any obvious talent, and they all earn more money than that from the pockets of people named Koch, Anschutz, and Murdoch.
Create a legal war team. $20M
This quote is too low.
As Kate always says, failing to show up for a riot is a failed conservative policy. Hire a bunch of young conservative/Republicans (at low wages) as organizers. Anytime leftists protest, the hired organizers would create a counter-protest. They would then organize their own protests. Do what leftists have learned; don’t protest in public streets, target.
The warm bodies are cheap, but the organizational talent (and more importantly, the press relations team) is where the funding goes. Warm bodies can be trained to raise money from people or get into fights and march around, but a good press release costs $7,500 a pop, with more significant coverage going for more like $50,000 a pop, not including the advertising support.
National campaigns would run to the millions rapidly — this first two numbers would be for a small local area to a mid-sized metro. Good permits also cost money and require bribes to local politicians, plus relationship-building.
The Need to Focus and Self-Sustain
Because resources are constrained, and we do not have anywhere near the fundraising operation that even the world’s shittiest PAC does, you have to focus on activities that are self-funding. The single most effective online right wing political campaign that I have witnessed was the seemingly-spontaneous response of ‘Molon Labe’ to Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign.
In 2013, Steve Vaus recorded a short song that recalled a battle in Texas. Almost immediately, the obscure Latin term ‘molon labe’ immediately exploded on Google Trends. This occurred simultaneous to when Bloomberg’s organization pushed the slogan ‘Demand a Plan’ through his network of celebrities and politicians.
The results shocked me at the time.
As you can see, the response annihilated Bloomberg’s ad and press campaigns, which had the benefit of an enormous amount of earned media that is not available at any price (free write-ups in the Times, write-ups on the Times op-ed page, appearances on the Sunday shows, the whole nine yards).
Petty vendors earned a mint selling t-shirts and posters based on the tagline, which communicated an effective message: “if you come to confiscate our guns, we will fight to the death.” This is a clear example of capitalizing on the local firepower superiority of the right wing. And it defeated a far more expensive press and ad campaign pushed by the entire left elite working in concert — advertising, media, information technology, and even investment banking.
It also exploited a clear division that has been critical in Connecticut: the left can ram legislation through, but when they ask policemen to die to enforce new laws, those policemen will not obey orders. Knowing this pressure point, the right can continually bait the left into over-reaching beyond the point to which it can actually exercise real power.
This is doubtless the sort of reaction that has worked and will continue to work to rile the barbarian horde, to make it more expensive to govern effectively by demotic means.
Some quick points:
- Changing the minds of people costs resources. Getting people to take actions costs resources.
- Changing people a lot costs more money than you probably have or are capable of raising within the time frame in which you want to enact the change.
- Encouraging people to make small changes is much cheaper than encouraging them to make large changes.
The conservative political machine is good at sustaining itself, but just lacks the sheer resources of the left.
Facing an enemy with far greater material resources, it is necessary instead to use unorthodox methods rather than direct confrontation to disrupt and destroy the systempunkts within their economic machinery.
Direct confrontation can be easily contained by the left: it is like a frontal assault on a fixed position with a predictable result.
The left can trivially contain any direct attack, because it is politically well-fortified against such attacks. It is like trying to attack Rommel’s tank divisions with a bunch of drunk amateurs driving golf carts. They will break at the first sight of the Panzers, and it is not responsible to tell them that they have a chance to win against him.
I am glad Free Northerner has started this discussion, because debating practical actions is more entertaining to me than theorizing, which I have no talent for.