Most grassroots movements have the same fundamental parts to them, with the tea party movement being a notable exception. Understanding those parts will help activists and candidates to generate and sustain momentum and support for your issue.
Chris Faulkner from Faulkner Strategies discussed the keys to a grassroots movement. You have to have ‘The “IT”‘, ie. the key root basis of your movement: the idea, issue or value(s) that define your movement, identified clearly and succintly. Think abortion for the pro-life movement, war opposition for both the Dean campaigns and the Paul campaigns, etc.
You also have to have “The ‘Host'”, the person or group that becomes the avatar and carries the “IT”. Most “hosts” have been too weak to carry the “It” effectively (think Howard Dean) but sometimes a “host” is strong enough to carry the “It” (think Barack Obama carrying the “Move ON” idea).
The “Host” can’t do it alone; in come the “Evangelists”: those who are opinionated, well-informed, and more interested in the “It” than in the “Host”. These folks are the ones who really drive and make the movement happen and catch fire. Sometimes they may be “sneezers” who push information out (think bloggers, talk radio, etc.). Next you need the “medium” of how the message is going to be delivered. In our Founding era, it was Committees of Correspondence and the Federalist Papers; today it is the Internet and social media.
All of this is focused on getting the message, and the momentum, to the “Crowd”, ie. everyone else. The Tea Parties seem to have found a way to effectively do this and also bypass the need for a “Host”, thus decreasing the likelihood of a personality eclipsing the message or turning off those who otherwise could and should be part of the movement.
Maybe the conservative movement can learn some lessons. The time is now, and the resources are available.