The rapid pace of the change is what’s changed. Should 2010 prove a wave election, that will mark three waves straight. Establishments require a structure that assures its endurance. That structure is gone.
Goldwater won power through trench warfare. Goldwater’s staff spent three years mobilizing support at the precinct level. By the GOP convention, Goldwater had enough delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot. He was also the beneficiary of a party gradually moving southward and westward, of an already fading Northeastern moderate GOP, of a party becoming less blue blooded and more blue collar.
Power no longer shifts so tectonically, nor so gradually. Trench warfare is now blitzkrieg. It also amounts to combat without generals. The tea party movement’s purge of moderates echoes Goldwater’s coup. But today’s conservative movement is occurring without a Goldwater. Today’s grassroots movements need not win power by first winning the seats that make power.