Update: I had problems linking to this article (I think maybe the dashes in the title caused the problem) so I reposted is here: http://www.redstate.com/brianh/2009/06/08/fighting-for-the-soul-of-the-party/ Please use that link instead.
Most of the people who hang out at RedState are conservatives of one form or another (I don’t really care to break us into sub groupings because that is both simplistic and counter productive). Since we are conservatives, the Republican Party is our natural home. No other party has a hope of getting any significant number of conservatives elected. That means that most of us want to get conservative Republicans elected to public office. Lately, we’ve been doing a terrible job of reaching that goal for various reasons some of which I will cover here.
One of the major problems we see is that the party is supporting more moderates and even liberal Republicans. Frankly the party is moving too far to the left in its chosen candidates. And the more elections we lose the farther it seems to move to the left. So how do we stop this trend and hopefully reverse it? We have to take a number of actions some of which many of my friends here disagree with.
We must remember that we are playing a long game. We aren’t likely to be able to turn the party around in just 1 or even 2 election cycles. If the situation changes we need to be ready to play a short term game and move all in, but we have to get the framework in place for the long run in order to take advantage of any opportunities that arise. So let’s talk about building the framework.
The most important action we can take is to get involved! Become a precinct committeeman. Get active at your local county party’s level. Work local campaigns. Recruit good conservatives for local offices. Get conservatives selected in local primaries and get them elected to local city councils, county boards, school boards, road commissions, etc. No office is too menial to consider important. Hold your elected officials accountable to the conservative values they claimed when you recruited them. These are the farm team for people who are going to run for higher office. This isn’t too controversial, but it’s hard and important work. And no one’s going to do it if you don’t. Martin A. Knight has written on the precinct committeeman project. Look for those posts for ideas or just call your county party headquarters and get started. If you don’t have an active party in your county, guess what. You’re the cavalry. You’ll have to build the party yourself (and yes you can do it).
Get active in the primary process. Find a candidate that is a good conservative in your area. Donate time and money to this person and get him or her to win in the primary. Promote your candidate, but try to remember the 11th commandment. Send money to conservative candidates in other districts to help them win their primary. Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, or Adam Kinzinger could use your help, even if it’s only a token $10. It costs a LOT to run a campaign and many small donations work as well as a few large ones.
Now the hard part: Party unity. If our candidate doesn’t win the primary, we must support the victor. Staying home or voting 3rd party or otherwise punishing the party is guaranteed to do 2 things. It will give the seat to the Democrat and it will move the party farther to the left in selecting future candidates. Even good conservatives like Cornyn are laboring under the false belief that we need to put up squishes in order to save Republican seats.
Party unity requires the cooperation of all the people involved and this is where all factions of the party have been deficient of late (including ours). We must stop this trend and the only way we can do it is to be the adults in the room and forgive the moderates and liberal wings and provide support to them IF they win the primary. In exchange we must remind them that we are loyal when they win and we expect the same from them when WE win (and yes we will start winning). After all, what help can you expect from them when you win if you refuse to help when they win. Split electorates always lose and we can’t afford to keep splitting the party.
Go to party events and talk to people. If there are any national level party officials present, let them know that party unity requires cooperation on both sides and that you are doing your part, but expect them to also work for unity. Tell them that favoring people in party primaries is a divisive action and that they need to stop if they want to maintain unity. My local party has an RNC town hall meeting tomorrow and I intend to bring this up. If you happen to be in the Peoria Illinois area, stop in and lend me a hand. Just remember that loyal people who hammer on the party leadership are more likely to get their way than fair weather friends.
Finally, we need to bring back conservative leaning people who have already left the party. Talk to Libertarian Party, Conservative Party, etc members and try to convince them that you need their help to take back the Republican Party. Most of them left due to the party not living up to its conservative base. We need to convince them that the only way to get conservative people elected is within this party. Chances are they won’t come completely back to the party, but maybe you can get them to commit to voting with the Republicans when they don’t have a candidate in the race. We have to start building coalitions with other conservative leaning groups.