My fellow pundit/blogger/former aide to Mitt Romney, Hunter Golden, and I have been having off-and-on conversations regarding the upcoming presidential election and politics in general. Here's Part 1 of this series. We start with Golden talking about what he sees as the problems within the Republican Party, and the frustration that many GOP voters feel towards the party on a national level.
Hunter Golden: "The problem within the party is that you have the do-ers and the social climbers. The social climbers...I hate them, but they're the ones in power. They see politics backwards in the sense that they try to build the party from the top down instead of the bottom up. The do-ers on the other hand, are much more focused and targeted and are very good at building a base and exhibiting patience and exercise a lot of scrutiny in terms of who they pick as candidates.
If you look back to '94 when we smashed the Donks' faces and took back Congress, it was built around one thing: Finding a good candidate who matched up against the incumbent in that particular district. We ran a very localized campaign but kept a consistent national message with the contract for America and really white washed the Dems.
Now look to '06 where we got OUR faces smashed and you'll see the Dems basically took our own gun out of our hand and shot us in the face with it. Jim Webb is a prime example of a guy who was a great match up against George Allen in his district. They rode the overall theme of the Iraq war and beat Allen and a host of other Republicans.
That strategy relies on running solid, appealing candidates to a specialized population and using them to market a simple to understand national platform.
When Bush won the White House, that whole strategy was really tossed out the window, especially when the social climbers, who kissed enough ass to be given positions of authority, assumed that authority. They were out for themselves and lobbied the GOP delegation for ridiculous legislation and kick backs in return for campaign money. They thought that would be more than enough to maintain the majority. They ditched the whole idea of running localized campaigns with a national message and nationalized all the candidates and didn't prepare for poor match ups. It's the same exact thing that led to he Dems downfall in the 90s.
The problem we have right now of course is trying to dislodge those idiots from their positions and getting competent action-oriented leadership back in control. The PROBLEM is though, that the base is so disenchanted with the direction of the party and it's policies, that it's been really demoralized and essentially there aren't any efforts to move on the party leadership.
The Dems were in the same place in 02 and it took a considerable push from a lot of special interest groups to rally the base and put smart guys like Rahm Emmanuel in charge of recruiting candidates and modifying their message. The Republicans are going to have to get to that point, and it might mean losing the White House in 08.
Like 02 though, where the Dems overestimated the Republicans' strengths, it's important to recognize that the Democrats' hold on power isn't nearly as solid as the Republican's were in the mid 90s. I think given some good match ups and someone that can communicate truly conservative ideals, that they'll be able to rebound. Unfortunately though, I just don't think the party leadership is there to do it.
A side bar story that localizes all this and amplifies my point.... I'm the vice chair of the Western Mass GOP. We had a meeting a few weeks ago to gear up for the municipal elections. I'm sitting there and pose the question, 'OK, we've raised a good amount of money, who're we going to spend it on?" To which the secretary, who sits on the state committee replies 'um, everyone'. I say 'well there are some guys it'd be a waste to give the money too. They're running against established Dems and the districts don't favor them. That and a few are kind of looney and are bound to get murdered, so why not give it to candidates who have a shot or need the extra bump'... she replies "we can't do that, that'd be terrible'. "Why is that bad?" I reply. "Well, we can't be sending a message that some candidates are weaker than others'...
It was bulls**t. WHY would you WASTE your money associating yourself with inevitable losers? See though, it's not about us winning seats, it's about the secretary making sure everyone still likes her and keeps her on the state committee. It's a social club to her, where I view the party and the organization as a vehicle to win campaigns and therefore a seat at the table and influence. That right there is the problem with the party. People who're more concerned with making friends and finding ways to make money are in control. The rest of us just need to screw if we want to fight that.
So in a nutshell, that's the deal.
In terms of this elections, a lot of people feel the way you do. Funny thing is politics is that when liberals get pissed at their candidates, they prove their point by flushing their votes down the toilet on the useless nut job fringe candidate and cost the Democrat the election. Us Republicans, we just don't show up period and cost our team the election. With no one particularly ruffling the feathers of GOPers, I see less democrat protest votes and more Republican no shows, which isn't good news for the Republicans."
Phil Chroniger: "I'd agree, except the GOP donors are ruffling the feathers of the national GOP. Especially over Bush/Graham/McCain/Specter supporting the Shamnesty Bill.
Simply put, the majority of Americans are not the ones on the blogs, talking about the election on message board threads like this one, or really doing anything. They turn on the evening news, get hit with a constant barrage of bad info and oversimplified media crap, and the end up either apathetic or riled up in a heavily misinformed rage.
And, naturally, this plays to the Dems advantage, because the media (generally speaking) slants leftward.
Alan "no chance in hell" Keyes is in the race now, GOPers can point to him (and Michael Steele, among others) as proof that blacks can rally to conservative causes. However, Alan Keyes is too socially conservative for my tastes, as is most of the "Renew America" crowd (Selwyn Duke, etc...despite their intelligence and many of the valid anti-left points they bring up).
However, the GOP needs to quietly leave extreme social conservatism behind. It's a small, overly-activist and vocal subsection of the GOP base. The evangelical outcries are what kills the GOP appeal to secular conservatives and social moderates who may be fiscal conservatives.
Which leads me to why I like Fred Thompson (again). He's a non-denomination Christian who does not make his religion the base of his political beliefs. Abortion, same-sex marriage, these are side issues AT BEST, but many social conservatives act as if they are the most pressing issues facing all of mankind."
Part 2 Coming Soon...