Like many of us here at RedState, I am a member of my local Republican Party (County Republican Central Committee in my case, referred to as RCC hereafter). This move was prompted by our own ColdWarrior, powered by my love for America as found in the founding documents, and assisted by other RedStaters. I have documented my process in my earliest diaries.
The thesis statement for why to do so is that we have no (or substantially lesser) potential to effect the machine from the outside. It made sense to me at the time, and prompted me to become involved when it was pretty much the last thing that I would have considered previously. But now I, again like many others*, wonder if the corollary is true – does being on the inside mean that I am having an effect? Is it worth the precious hours away from my wife and children?
My latest ambivalence on this topic was brought to a head this evening in our monthly RCC meeting. We are blessed this term to be led by a very hard-working, dedicated, and capable RCC Chairman, who gives generously of his time and energy to the leadership, and he initiated a conversation this evening about goals for the committee. Knowing the amount of work ahead of us, and the importance, he wanted make sure we set the right goals, and then drive hard and smart toward them (paraphrased, hopefully accurately):
We Republicans are fond of our position that Government should be run more like a business. And in a business, we would set clear S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based), and then make a plan to achieve them, and then hold ourselves accountable to reaching them.
A great point. And valid. But doesn’t get to the heart of what is causing the wavering commitment of his troops, my fellow volunteers. His point is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to the successful operation of a business. Because a business will also be held accountable by shareholders and customers that it is accomplishing its purpose. A business that performs poorly will go out of business as soon as it dries up its source of suckers to fund it.
So what is our purpose? We had an interesting (at least to me) discussion on this topic. Being members of the RCC, we must make sure we have the most people with R’s after their name in office, right? We were reminded that we are elected (mostly) or appointed (isolated cases) to represent our Republican constituents, as a way to reinforce the principle of most R’s. Here I went off the reservation and took a more controversial position (paraphrased, hopefully accurately):
Yes, I have an obligation and responsibility to my constituents to faithfully represent them and give them a voice in the Republican machine. But many of those that I represent have lost faith in the Republican party, and care more about the Republican platform** and our ideals than they care about the letter after the name.
They now know the difference between what is on the menu (platform) and what’s for dinner (actions). As said by another RCC Member, we can knock ourselves out trying to GOTV for a few more heads. But our effort is being completely drowned out by the Republicans who are destroying the brand. So if I want to represent my constituents, doesn’t it make sense to pay attention to the most important effects (that we have control over)?
Every day I feel more disenfranchised by the Republican Establishment, and the last thing that I want to do is to work for them, stifling new blood and potentially great leadership/talent. I fear that my time will be wasted, and I will let my constituents down. With that said, I need to figure out how to make things better, or get out. If I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem.
I humbly submit the following sketch on goals for your consideration, and would sincerely appreciate any feedback or ideas to improve this. I will be fighting to shape our discussion on goals in next month’s RCC meeting, to be part of the solution for my constituents and for my country.
1) We (Republicans) must lead the way in holding our representatives accountable for doing their job well, not preserving their job. I (late to the party?) learned an important lesson back in 2005 or so. New Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger came to my place of employment to campaign for re-districting reform. He made me aware of an acute problem in our electoral system. (The following details are not from memory, they are from this article). Of 153 seats in the Califormia Legislature that were on the ballot the prior November, not one changed party hands. This when approval of the Legislature was in single digits or teens. Where was the accountability for these representatives?!?!
To gain leverage over our public servants and credibility with our constituents, we must direct meaningful amounts of our energy to holding our representatives accountable. How do we do this?
We must not blindly support those with “R” after their names, especially in a primary. Here is my new maxim:
Our Government overall will never exceed the quality level of the best member that we are unwilling to throw out of office.
This is a more tangible wording of my position for the last several years “if they are not excellent, primary them”. We have got to reset our thermostats from “any R is better than anything else, and is good enough” to “if at first we don’t succeed [with excellent representation], try, try again”. Do not support any incumbent that is on the bottom four rungs of this scale IN A PRIMARY.
- 5) Awesome, will go down in legend
- 4) Very good, history will be kind to their legacy
- 3) OK, better than the average member of an opposing party
- 2) Neutral
- 1) Bad
- 0) Evil Incarnate
2) In the General Election, I haven’t moved far from RedState’s historical position (conservative in the Primary, Republican in the General), but there is some growth here thanks to my professors [mc_name name=”Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)” chamber=”house” mcid=”B000589″ ] and [mc_name name=”Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)” chamber=”senate” mcid=”M000355″ ]. Clearly there is a time to do something other than vote R in the General. I don’t have a crisp guideline for you all on this front yet – your suggestions especially welcome here…
3) We must decrease the power of the Establishment machine, and return this power to the people. I believe that this requires us to put our support and money behind candidates that are potentially less proven, less polished, less, well, Establishment. The cost of this is that we will occasionally make mistakes. The payoff is that we will get more turnover, more cred that we stand for something, and an easier path to fix mistakes when we do make them.
4) We must spend meaningful amounts of our energy to track our representatives, and educate voters about their performance. If not us, then who? How is letting the liberal media frame the discussion working out for us?
5) We must find, recruit, train, and support great candidates. Again, this is an area that should get easier over time and with our new-found principles about supporting the up-and-comers. Nothing says “don’t run” like our track record of leaving the newbies to fight the Establishment on their own.
6) We must play this game up into the national stage. If we don’t reinvigorate the brand, walk our talk, and change the game at the national level as well, we will be crushed by an ever more oppressive and tyrannical federal machine, which will have more and more ways of “making us care”.
Are these the right goals for a conservative RCC? Will pursuing these goals allow us to better represent the voters who have entrusted us with our positions better than blind support of anything labelled “R”?
* I was told before tonight’s RCC meeting by one of our most involved members that he was seriously considering resigning. Later in the meeting, another member presented and read her prepared resignation letter.
** I am represented by at least three (GOP, CRP, PCRCC), all of which are very good – but which don’t matter if my representatives don’t stay true to them.