The Republican Party isn’t the majority party here in Minnesota nor in our nation’s capital for a variety of reasons. I’d submit that the biggest reason why we aren’t the majority party is because we stopped being the party of ideas. Here in Minnesota, though, we’re taking corrective action, action that doesn’t rely on the state party.
Instead, what a group of activists have done is turned the MOB (Minnesota Organization of Bloggers) into the Activists’ News Network. Many of our state legislators stay in touch with what’s important to working class people by reading blogs like True North, Powerline, MDE, SCSUScholars, Let Freedom Ring, Ladies Logic and Shot In The Dark. Our House GOP leadership reads the blogs on a daily basis, as do their staff.
The House GOP Caucus has used this to stay in touch with what’s important with activists. That’s important because the activists/citizen journalists stay in touch with their neighbors, co-workers and friends. I can’t emphasize this point enough. If the GOP wants to return to majority status anytime soon, it has to start with listening to what the people are saying.
It’s my contention that the reason why earmarks have proliferated at the rate they have is in direct proportion to the RNC and other Beltway ‘alphabets’ not having a coherent or appealing agenda. To get an appealing agenda, the RNC must listen to the people living in the Heartland because what’s importatnt in the Heartland is dramatically different than what’s important to the Beltway’s opinion shapers.
The reality is that the RNC, much like the Minnesota GOP, has become a strategist-driven, top-down organization. Grass roots activism is frowned on. We’re told that only moderates can win in certain districts. That’s insulting. Conservatism at its finest is about common sense. I refuse to believe that common sense isn’t appealing, especially when common sense is combined with verifiable facts.
After the 2006 midterm elections, I wrote two posts about how to rebuild the GOP. One of the things I said was a must was for the GOP to start picking principled fights. At the time, I was thinking in terms of national politics. What surprise me was that the Minnesota House GOP Caucus started the 2007 session fighting for time-tested conservative principles.
The first example of the House GOP Caucus’s feistiness was supplied by Rep. Laura Brod, who had the audacity of offering tax cut legislation as amendments to a tax conformity bill. The DFL didn’t want to vote against tax cuts in the first week so Speaker Margaret Kelliher ruled Rep. Brod’s proposed tax cuts not germane to the tax leegislation.
That afternoon, I sent an email to Rep. Brod, thanking her for pushing a pro-growth conservative agenda. A month later, Reps. Brod, Dean and McNamara met with members of our local GOP. What we told these legislators was that we wanted them to keep pushing the legislation and to let us know what they were proposing. King Banaian, Leo Pusateri and I made sure that people heard about that agenda. We also started covering the town hall meetings.
That’s how we turned the MOB into the Activists’ News Network. Our local BPOU (Basic Party Organizing Unit) chapter regularly links to our posts to keep the activists informed. Other BPOUs across the state are doing the same with their bloggers.
This has served two important purposes, the most important being that people can’t credibly argue that “there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats.” Each day, we prove that there are billions of dollars worth of difference. the other important benefit from this is that we’re daily emphasizing the fact that we have a positive agenda. We’re arguing that the House GOP shouldn’t be returned to majority status because we stink less than the DFL. We’re arguing that we should be returned majority status because we have an appealing, pro-growth agenda.
Frankly, if I were elected to be the next chairman of the RNC, the first thing I’d do is call for a nationwide listening tour. We can’t rebuild the GOP if we don’t listen to what’s important to the average Joe. Listening would then informs their opinions. Equally important is that it tells the people who showed up that their opinions matter. Nothing is as energizing to a person as knowing that they’re important.
The minute we start inspiring people around a coherent, appealing agenda is the day that everything will come back together. GOTV operations get more robust, campaign coffers will fill to overflowing, candidate recruitment will pick up, elections will be won.
Most importantly, it will have been accomplished by doing the right things for the right reasons. Once that day arrives, and I’m bullish that it will happen sooner rather than later, great things will start happening again. I’m bullish about that because Americans are a nation of achievers.
Finally, let’s keep in mind this Ronald Reagan piece of wisdom: It’s “amazing what we can accomplish when we don’t care who gets credit” for the long list of accomplishments.
If the thought of a reformed Republican Party appeals to you, then it’s time to help make it happen. There’s no usefulness to be a passive activist.
Cross-posted at California Conservative