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Earning influence: what power might Bernardi’s grassroots lobby have?

George Rennie writes in The Conversation (21.7.16) about the impact on the political landscape of ‘grassroots lobbying’, citing Coalition Senator Corey Bernardi’s proposed conservative ‘movement’ as a potential case that looks to borrow from mass-based conservative lobby groups in the US.

‘Inspired by the successes of American conservatism and motivated by a disgust with the moderate Malcolm Turnbull, Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has reportedly devoted himself to mobilising a conservative lobby in Australia – to be called, rather straightforwardly, the Australian Conservatives.

‘While he may have overestimated the interest in such a movement in Australia, Bernardi fundamentally understands the potential impact of grassroots lobbying. Mobilising and organising large numbers of voters makes for a powerful political force. And, as a tool for change in democracies, its use is not limited to “elites”.

‘Bernardi’s movement, if it is to succeed, will borrow its methods from America’s grassroots political organisations. There, such dedicated groups can be as powerful as corporate and elite special interests. They make a profound social and economic impact by harnessing “people power” and contributing to the all-important “marketplace of ideas”.’

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