Most of the pieces for a rejuvenated conservative movement were already in place by 1994, including a highly-functional infrastructure of right-wing foundations, think tanks, advocacy organizations, media outlets -- conservative talk radio and Christian television -- and an army of grassroots volunteers.
But a little over a decade later, youngish conservatives are again restless. Embittered by defeat at the hands of the Democratic Party in November, which they attribute to the Republican leadership "selling conservatives out," these new activists are calling for a new conservative movement.
In a relatively short time, Martin has made a name for himself as an up-and-coming organizer out to create just that.
At present, there are several noteworthy things about TheVanguard.org: the origin of its name; its stated goal to both emulate and take on MoveOn.org; its mix of Silicon Valley pedigree and fundraising sources with veteran movement conservatives; its weaving of so-called traditional religious principles with secular conservatism; and its hiring of dedicated slash-and-burn right-wing ideologues.
The term "vanguard" -- derived from the Middle English "vantgard" short for "avant garde" -- is defined in "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language" as "the foremost position in an army or fleet," "the... leading position in a trend or movement," and "those occupying such a position."
The term also has its roots firmly planted in Vladimir Ilyich Ulnayov (Lenin), the Russian revolutionary, who developed the idea of the Vanguard Party, and wrote about it in the 1902 pamphlet titled "What is to Be Done?" According to Wikipedia, "a vanguard party is a political party or grassroots organization at the forefront of a mass action, movement, or revolution."
TheVanguard.org did not respond to an IPS request for an interview.
But in a recent interview with the conservative weekly Human Events, Martin paid tribute to, and took aim at, the highly successful liberal internet-based MoveOn,org.
"The left has been brilliant at leveraging technology," Martin said, "and so have we to a point: our bloggers and news sites are amazing, and the RNC's [Republican National Committee] get-out-the-vote software is unparalleled. But no one on our side has even begun to create anything like MoveOn. And after 2006, if we want to survive, much less build a long-term conservative majority, we better start, and fast."
In a letter to supporters posted at TheVanguard.org website, Martin pointed out that "the issue isn't just taking the fight to MoveOną. [it] is also learning a lesson from MoveOn, by taking on -- and taking back -- our own party first. MoveOn has done a great job of making the Democrat Party live up to the ideology of its membership. That may or may not be a good idea from an election point-of-view. But it's certainly been rewarding for the people who give their hearts and souls to electing Democrats year after year."
Martin, who has both enterpreneurial -- he worked for the Internet commerce site PayPal -- and movement experience -- he is a member of the Federalist Society and the secretive Council on National Policy among other far right groups -- has reeled in "a top-drawer cast, including Silicon Valley heavy-hitters like Eric Jackson (a former PayPal colleague of Martin's, where he was head of marketing) and Gil Amelio (former CEO of two Fortune 500 companies, including Apple Computer), among others," Human Events reported.
In addition, longtime movement conservatives such as Grover Norquist, founder and head of American for Tax Reform, Stephen Moore, founder of Club for Growth (and current Wall Street Journal editorial board member), "compassionate conservatism" guru Marvin Olasky, and Ronald Reagan Doctrine-architect Jack Wheeler are all members of Vanguard's board of advisors.
While Martin may be the force behind TheVangaurd.org, two recent hires could easily become the group's most controversial figures. In late-January, TheVanguard.org hired Jerome Corsi, co-author with John O'Neill of the 2004 book "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," which seriously damaged the Kerry campaign that November, to become a senior political strategist.
The other new employee is Richard Poe, a longtime journalist and former employee of conservative provocateur/enterpreneur David Horowitz, who is the group's editorial and creative director. Poe recently co-authored, with Horowitz, "The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party," a book that accuses liberals of using deception, lies, and Soros' dough to take over the country.
Poe has also been a close observer of Hillary Clinton, having penned "Hillary's Secret War," which according to the author, describes "how Hillary Clinton and the left's 'shadow government' have labored to put her and her far-left agenda in the White House by controlling the still-uncensored flow of real news to Americans -- via the Internet."
Frederick Clarkson, the author of "Eternal Hostility," a primer on the theocratic right in the United States, and a longtime observer of U.S. right-wing politics, told IPS that, "TheVanguard.org epitomises the tactics of the far right of the contemporary Republican Party."
"The recent additon of Jerome Corsi -- a leader of the 'swiftboat veterans for truth' which ran a vicious smear campaign against Sen. John Kerry when he ran for president, as the 'senior political strategist' is a fair indication of how it plans to use the powerful tool of the internet and the blogosphere."
"It is also startling to me that one of TheVanguard's advisers is Jack Wheeler, best known as an unofficial liaison to groups seeking to overthrow governments opposed by the Reagan White House, notably in Nicaragua, Mozambique, Afghanistan and Angola," Clarkson said. "It is strange that a prominent advocate of armed insurgencies is such a public advisor to a domestic political group."
These days, TheVanguard.org reports that its site traffic is rising and blog buzz is building. Whether this will "Forward the Revolution" as Martin intends, remains to be seen.
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Albion Monitor March
1, 2007 (http://www.albionmonitor.com)
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