future of the GOP

Mr. Boehner, Please Move Beyond Earmarks

This from the House Speaker-designate for the 112th Congress in today's Wall Street Journal:

[T]here are several steps I believe the next speaker should be prepared to take immediately. Among them:

No earmarks. Earmarks have become a symbol of a broken Washington, and an entire lobbying industry has been created around them. The speaker of the House shouldn't use the power of the office to raid the federal Treasury for pork-barrel projects. To the contrary, the speaker should be an advocate for ending the current earmark process, and should adhere to a personal no-earmarks policy that stands as an example for all members of Congress to follow.

I have maintained a no-earmarks policy throughout my time of service in Congress. I believe the House must adopt a moratorium on all earmarks as a signal of our commitment to ending business as usual in the spending process.

And this from the President during his post-election news conference on Wednesday:

My understanding is Eric Cantor today said that he wanted to see a moratorium on earmarks continuing.  That’s something I think we can -- we can work on together.

In light of the economy, I can understand why Boehner is focusing on earmarks as the most visible symbol of what needs to be fixed on Capitol Hill. And I agree that we need to fix the abuse of the earmark process by reforming it. But the fact is that not all earmarks can be construed as wasteful spending and not all wasteful spending are in earmarks. It's easy to come up with rhetoric denouncing "the evils of earmarks," but what we should be focusing on substantively is wasteful spending.

I don't want to get into debates over how Republicans should define public goods and wasteful spending. I do however want to talk about what principles should be espoused by Republicans when it comes to spending and how we can be innovative on sound spending policies.

What are some budgetary principles that should be communicated by Republicans to the American people?

  • The Solution Principle: Every challenge facing the American people does not require a federal office and federal funding.
  • The Priorities Principle: Every family and every business has to balance their checkbooks, their revenues with their expenses. Through good times and bad times, families and businesses have to sacrifice what they might want and prioritize their spending. The government should operate like any prudent family or business does, and prioritize.
  • The Investment Principle: The American people are "forced to invest" their income into government. Each taxpayer is, therefore, a shareholder in government. Because taxpayers have invested their money into government, taxpayers deserve the best return on their money. This means the "portfolio of investments" (otherwise known as government projects and agencies) must be reviewed carefully and objectively in order for the government to fulfill their due diligence.

How can we turn those principles into solutions? The answer is to do what's difficult, not easy (i.e. earmark moratoriums), and be innovative about our budget from both procedural and substantive points of view:

  • Follow the lead of Paul Ryan and his "Roadmap for America's Future" when it comes to restructuring our entitlements.
  • Don't allow earmarks to be placed during conference committees between the House and Senate.
  • Install a biennial budgeting process, something promoted by Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), while also requiring supermajorities to increase in a fiscal year after a budget has been passed (for legitimate emergencies).
  • Separate capital budgets from operating budgets for each department. Long term projects are very different from short term day-to-day costs.
  • Instead of an executive Chief Performance Officer that gets to pick and choose what works and what doesn't under subjective criteria, have Congress create a Congressional Agency Performance Office that has some independence (like CBO) to constantly scrutinize the operations of all government agencies.
  • On capital projects that go to specific state and local governments, quasi-agencies, and companies, start a Congressional Office for Spending Oversight. Just like every business has control officers, this independent office should scrutinize long term projects' spending practices. This can allow Congress to reward under-budgeted projects and punish over-budgeted projects.
  • Not only should spending be posted online before it's passed. It should also be posted online when it's spent. Just like many state governments have done, the federal government's checkbook should be posted online.

I'm glad that we're getting out in front of the President and Democrats on this. We need to be in a proactive position, not a reactive position. Talking about earmkars is too easy. This is just another area where we need to develop political communication and public policy entrepreneurship on a serious issue.

Who Dropped the Ball On This?!?!

From John Hawkins at Right Wing News ...

I was talking to a very credible Capitol Hill source (who wishes to remain anonymous) today and that person told me a story that just blew my mind. Well actually, it should have blown my mind, but unfortunately, it is the sort of laziness and terrible messaging that we have too often seen from the Republican Party of late.

He told me the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's 19th Annual Legislative Conference will be taking place next week in DC.

Here's the kicker: supposedly, the Democrats have 20 senators scheduled to attend various events and receptions. The Republicans? Are you ready for this? They have no senators currently scheduled to attend. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

As a Republican and an ethnic minority, I've said before that I really hate the paradigm of the "hyphenated American" and I hate talking about race and politics in such limiting terms. I truly think that what we see as ethnic minority voting blocs do not want to be treated as blocs. We can reach out to ethnic minorities, in large groups or individually, not by talking about their identity, but by talking about the importance of freedom and opportunity. Most importantly, ethnic minority outreach means "reaching out" to them where they are, not inviting them to where we are. But it doesn't mean pandering to them based on rhetoric tied to their identity.

But we still have to embrace the reality that communities are formed around common identities while also coming up with an agenda that can reach out to all communities. Apparently, GOPers on the Hill can't even get step number one done: showing up!

A message to GOP candidates and campaigns at the state and local level: follow the lead of 27-year-old Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) who in each of his races was not afraid to go into "urban areas" not only to campaign, but to listen to people's concerns and have a dialogue with voters. Visit the African-American church and knock on the door of an African-American family in your town. Attend a Hispanic community meeting and visit an Hispanic-owned small business in your district. Go to Asian-American potlucks and attend PTA meetings where Asian-, African-, Hispanic-Americans, etc. gather to talk about their children's education.

Don't preach. Don't lecture. Don't get impatient. Listen. Converse. Engage. Be willing to learn from their perspective, both as an American citizen and as a member of their community. And, please, just show up!

Dead Party Walking

By Rose Pedenko and Tanya Simon

The word “historic” has been stretched far too thin to describe many of the life-altering events that occurred in 2008, both nationally and internationally, in particular with respect to the election of Barack Hussein Obama.

“Historic Hysteria” can be applied to Democrats to depict their “first black president” fervor, and then to the Republican Party that did little to deflate that political balloon.

Republicans were water-boarded by the media for eight years, but unlike Guantanamo detainees, Republicans nearly drowned in the lies invented by that mercurial fourth estate whose mission was to exact maximum damage on George Bush’s presidency.

What the liberal media learned from their efforts is this: They could get away with anything (e.g., promoting a man to the office of president whose credentials and experience are, at best, marginal) – and also, because Republicans did little to stop the bleeding between moderates and conservatives in their own ranks, the MSM could blame the President and potential candidates for everything with impunity.

Obama didn’t win – we lost.

It reminds us of that old greeting card where a man alone on empty acreage is complimented for being “outstanding in his field.” Conservatives were out standing in their field too, but no one was listening because we heard little or nothing from them. They stood silent like hay-stuffed scarecrows flopping in the political winds.

With the exception of Mitt Romney, the GOP candidates looked, sounded and behaved more like leatherhead third-stringers for Knute Rockne than distinguished politicians.

Say what you will about Obama’s questionable alliances, conservative pundits spent far too much air-time energy decimating Obama’s bad judgment rather than understanding that those alliances were the strategic imperatives of a dead-serious politician. In the weeks leading up to the inauguration, we have witnessed the president-elect mow down far left supporters and blocks of his political party standing in the way of his path to glory.

Which is worse – bad judgment or ruthlessness? Or is there a difference?

Conservative pundits also finally realized at the 11th hour that their ambivalence over the GOP candidates proved to be a mistake of historic proportion.

Adding to the media’s assaults on Republicans was our lineup of candidates - a mish-mash of contradictions, overblown egos, sagging jowls, and a libertarian fervor that captured a flock of loons and thrust them into the limelight. On the plus side, they did raise a lot of money for Ron Paul which is proof positive – if candidates stick to their core principles and make no excuses for it they have a better chance of prevailing.

One thorny issue that contributed to the GOP downward slide was the vote “whores” who pandered to illegal aliens on some imagined future promise of party loyalty. For all his public relations and grandiose advice, Karl Rove, “the architect,” almost single-handedly sank George Bush’s legacy by pushing that future vision. And what did George Bush get for comprehensive immigration reform? It arrived in the form of an embittered and enervated base that left him (and John McCain) in the political wilderness to fend for themselves. The GOP’s money well dried up and shriveled around them.

The President’s pertinacious support of immigration reform eroded what little was left of praise for his outstanding leadership and handling of 9/11. And then, like a free falling guillotine, the Reenactment of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 sealed his fate with the base.

No amount of reaching across the aisle or congressional glad-handing could have altered the incomprehensible hatred already held by liberals. It is somewhat embarrassing, that even after losing the majority in congress as well as the presidency it did little to illuminate those mistakes as was evident in his final press conference. George W. Bush clearly did not understand how it all came crashing down. He still believes conservatives are anti-immigrant versus anti-illegal immigration. When he said the “party has to be compassionate and broad-minded” he was referring to his beloved immigration reform.

Republicans could have won the 2008 election in spite of an increasing minority vote. Had we not strayed from our core principles, eventually that minority vote would have been ours because those very principles inure to the benefit of immigrants in their quest to achieve the American dream.

What can Republicans do to ensure none of this happens again? The answer is simple: adhere to the golden rule of conservative principles. Period.

We know of no creative writer who could have invented the series of events that led to the near self-destruction of the party and country we know and love. The left-wing media succeeded, in spite of the rules of ethics in journalism, to “recreate” the U.S. government and this country’s social structure to suit their fractured ideology.

2008 ended up being the year the lunatics took over the asylum. They even managed to place the blame for the housing crisis and credit meltdown squarely on George Bush’s shoulders – a burden created in toto by Democrat political dogma.

The left-wing mantra that will surely endure is: “Everything bad happened on his watch,” notwithstanding their two-year majority and miserly performance.

And what happened in Chicago sure as hell didn’t stay there. An epidemic of corruption, greed and idiocy has engulfed every level of sensible society across America. Where else could someone named Madoff have “made-off” with everyone’s money? We can’t make this stuff up!

Republican principles designed to make us safer and stronger were eaten away by bad decisions, weedy financial restrictions, ineffectual oversights, and those mangy curs called greed and payoffs – all of which led to the current economic crisis.

In spite of the political disasters wrought on our heads, Americans have, out of shock and necessity, arrived at the realization that no one really knows anything when it comes to the financial health and wellbeing of the United States. We are all the hapless victims of the implosion of our retirement funds, curling up in fetal positions, waiting for good news.

Republicans have made huge mistakes, and the Democrats and their media lapdogs will continue to take full advantage of those mistakes. They will, as always, because that sticky candy called “success” is stuck in their gums, and will be for the next four years.

Conservatives must begin garnering our forces and lead the charge against straying from the principles that led us down that rabbit hole where nothing is as it seems: big is little, little is big, fat cats talk and we meet with strange, frightening and “politically correct” characters.

http://www.lowdowncentral.com/feature-article/2009/1/14/dead-party-walking.html

Call For Development Of An Activist Empowering Plug-In

Cross posted at: The 41st Vote.

I am degreed in Computer Information Systems.  I do not make my living in the field and am not a "coder".  I have always been more focused on the Business Process side of it and how  do you use technology to solve a problem and improve processes.  That being said, I have become active in my local party and as, you can see from this blog, activist on the web.  I am determined to help bridge the gap between the GOP and the Democrat party when it comes to the use of technology.  To that end I fully support the goals of Rebuild The Party, one of which is to "Recruit 5 million new Republican online activists".

Wordpress has developed into a powerful tool for activists. It is simple to setup and administer for those less technically inclined, . As a result it is ubiquitous within cyberspace. While Drupal, and to some extent, Joomla have extremely powerful widgets that can be utilized for political activism (CiviRM, Write A Newspaper etc.). Tthe added administrative overhead of those extrememly powerful platforms make them less so.  I have an idea for a plug-in that could greatly empower the  grassroots t impact the behavior of our elected Representatives.

In developing this blog, I have scoured the Wordpress site and the Internet looking for plug-ins that can leverage the power of my blog by making it simple for day to day people to impact a specific piece of legislation or political opinion.  I am most focused on enabling people to contact their Congressman or Senator.  As many of you know, the Congress has gone to great lengths to filter and make it more difficult for people to contact them.  Mail suffers from delay resulting from the need to process it for biological terrorism and spam drove most of them to secrete their e-mail addresses When we capture the eyes and imagination of a member of the grassroots, we need to capitalize on that by making it simple for them to express their will immediately and in the broadest form.

To that end, I thought of a need for a plug-in that would have the following Charter:

"Empower the user to immediately respond, through all available means,  to the party that can impact the desired outcome."

  1. The specific requirements:
    1. Provide an interface to a predefined template with wording that will form the basis of the communication for a specific purpose.
    2. Provide a method of searching for the most effective targets of that communication, specifically that constituents elected Congresman for his District and surrounding Districts within a specific radius and the Elected Senators that represent him.
    3. Provide for the ability to send the communication by all the following methods of transit, both individually and in concert:
      1. E-mail
      2. Fax
      3. Snail Mail
    4. Provide access through an API, to a database, to be maintained by a sponsoring organization that will contain the e-mail contact, FAX number, telephone number and the Washington mail address for each and every member of Congress and for all of this information for each and every elected State House Member and Senator of the 50 states and the territories.
    5. Function as a plug-in to the Wordpress platform.
    6. Provide the ability to insert the title of the blog post from within which that individual was stirred to react.
    7. Insert the permalink of that post into the e-mail body.
    8. Ability to color the background of the subject line with a color determined by the blog author for visual targeting.
    9. Insert the e-mail of the letter submitter, simultaneously capturing that information to the blogs subscriber list.

It may be that we need to scale back the scope.  That is for the coders to determine.  My purpose is to place the idea into the activist community to try to stir someone to undertake the development of the plug-in.  I intend to cross post this at Rebuild the Party and the attendant community sites.  The database will require the largest effort I am sure, but among all of the activist out there we can reduce the manhours per individuals to collect that data.  I know that the data is available for purchase, however I am unsure that it would be feasable to utilize that data within the scope of this requirment due to licensing terms. I anyone woudl like to discuss this, find me at these links Facebook or through the Action Network of the Rebuild the Party website.

Don't Forget How Vindictive the Dems Really Are

When will the GOP wake-up?  Why are we so nice to the Democrats?  Why are the likes of Bill Kristol and others already looking forward to an Obama presidency?  Perhaps we really were had by the neoconservatives who only cared about the GOP because the GOP is the party of national security.  That's a debate for a different day though.

Anyway, the Democrats want this "financial crisis" to last a long time and hurt everyone.  They don't want to let "a good crisis go to waste" as Rahm Emanuel would say.

So the GOP should notice this and act appropriately.  CALL THE DEMS OUT!  Do not agree to ANY of their AWFUL proposals.  Not only that, but ridicule them in the public square.  Stand up for America when they disparage her.  Defend the free market system and vow to cut spending!  Make the "outrageous" comparisons of Obama to other socialist leaders.  He is, after all, a socialist who believes the Supreme Court did not go far enough in "redistributing wealth" to the "disadvantaged."  Or whatever nonsense he said. 

NO MORE CZARS OR BAILOUTS!  If it's going to happen anyway, let it happen but do not give in to evil!

Do not forget where the country stands on many issues.  African-Americans helped defeat gay marriage in CA while electing Barack Obama.  Illegal immigration still infuriates most Americans; it's time the GOP stands on principle and deal with it.  These outrageous Leviathans of unions and bureaucracies are sloppily eating at the public trough while killing our economy.  A nepotistic cabal of financiers have robbed the public blind through bailouts but the Treasury let Lehman Bros. die because it didn't have sufficient connections in the halls of Washington.  It was dispensible.

Barack Obama and his team of court jesters are smart, savvy and megalomaniacal.  We mustn't forget it.  Before you know it, your kids will wake up, go to an athiestic, anti-American school, salute the Most Merciful Barack at graduation and then try to get placed into a job via a union headed by a Czar of the Widget Industry.

If Not Elected Chairman, Anuzis Should Go To State Parties & Build GOP Farm Team

Apologies for the long lapse between blog posts. The flu and work have been keeping me at bay.

I have not yet made a decision as to who to support for the RNC chairmanship, and I have not yet heard or met every candidate running. So it would be unfair for me to endorse anybody at this point. But I am intrigued with Michigan GOP chairman Saul Anuzis.

This morning at the American Spectator's Newsmaker Breakfast at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform, Anuzis made his case to be the party's top man, saying that he wants the GOP to be rebranded as the party that can "restore the American dream." Talking about his immigrant roots, Anuzis identified himself as a believer in the Newt Gingrich-Jack Kemp message of the "opportunity society."

The most interesting part of the conversation came up after being asked about his "losing" record as party chairman of the Great Lakes State and how that qualifies him to head the RNC. Anuzis responded agressively, saying that that means no party chair from a blue state should be qualified to run for the GOP chairmanship. He said that his background growing up in blue-collar suburbia among Reagan Democrats and Independents makes him especially qualified to be the next chairman because those are the voters that the we need to go after.

While I don't necessarily agree that past categorizations of voter identification will work in future election cycles, I'm impressed with Anuzis for a few reasons:

  • While everybody realizes that the party needs to be rebranded, I like the direction he's going when it comes to the type of rebranding we need. I'm all about building "An Agenda of Equal Opportunity" that can battle the liberal movement's "Agenda of Equal Outcomes."
  • Anuzis seems like someone willing to take risks. He's endorsed the RebuildTheParty.com platform and has had great state legislative recruitment success in Michigan, something that he could translate to a 435 District Strategy (something that Patrick has been plugging). He also talked a lot about outreach to African-Americans and going to their playing field: churches.
  • Anuzis seems to get Web 2.0 tools. While I don't know whether or not he's interested in buildings communities vs. building lists (as Chip Saltsman mentioned), he has been using Twitter to communicate with conservatives. When asked about criticism of him concerning his use of Twitter to promote himself instead of the Michigan GOP, he rightfully said that people aren't interested in having a conversation with press releases from the Michigan GOP. People are interested in having conversations with personalities. Sure, he's using his Twitter account to promote his candidacy for the chairmanship; but he's also using it to build a community by being refreshingly honest and approachable in his Tweets. (By the way, I'll be shameless here. If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, I'm @alaskan.)

I haven't been paying attention to who the front-runners are for the chairmanship and which candidates have how much support. But if Anuzis does not win, the new chairman should consider tapping Anuzis to be a liaison to the state parties and giving him a travel budget to visit all 50 states consistently. If the new chairman does not tap him, Anuzis should consider working with groups like Slatecard or building a new organization that can allow him to help rebuild state and local parties. Why?

  • While Congressional leaders need to come up with their own agenda of equal opportunity, Anuzis could be a great at helping state legislators and state legislative candidates in each state coming up with state-based agendas of equal opportunity. Like Soren has mentioned before, the battles that need to be won are at the state level. Anuzis can use what he learned about recruiting in Michigan and help party leaders around the nation recruit for state legislative, city council and school board seats to build a strong GOP Farm Team.
  • Anuzis' use and willingness to learn Web 2.0 tools could give him a platform to help state and local party leaders start building online communities instead of online lists. Patrick is correct that Twitter is only one small part of Web tools that we can use. Anuzis could be a bridge between the 50+ and 60+ generation of party leaders that have no clue about Web 2.0 tools and the under-40 activists that can help state and local parties reach the next level.

There are some state and local parties that are in shambles, and the next chairman of the RNC can't spend of all his time worrying about every party organization. But it would be wise for the next set of GOP leaders to help Saul Anuzis (or someone else) travel to and help rebuild party organizations in all 435 districts.

A New /Old Face?

Crossposted at The Rockefeller Republican

 

After two terms as governor, he had cut taxes, enacted the most extensive public school reform in any state, restructured health care and, after dealing with some three dozen natural disasters of varying degrees of severity, earned praise for crisis management. In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans, he held an approval rating of 63%. Friendly, self-deprecating, well-read and articulate, he stood in a strong position to capture the 2008 Republican nomination for president—but his last name is Bush.

Jeb Bush, knowing full well that the nation would not elect another member of his family this time around, went into political hiding, coming out only occasionally to give a speech, or host a diner. One of the most interesting and innovative republican governors was effectively off the playing field.

But he may already be eying a return to the political spotlight. With the recently announced retirement of Mel Martinez there is going to be an open senate seat in Florida, and Jeb is seriously considering a run. With his still-potent popularity, he has to be considered a prohibitive favorite for the seat. Does this portend a possible run for national office in 2012? He certainly has a lot to offer.

*He is an intensely practical politician, which would endear him to the business wing of the party as well as moderates.

*He is a man of faith --raised an Episcopalian, later a Roman Catholic --Bush would reassure religious conservatives without scaring the more religiously centrist among us.

*He could help expand the GOP brand top Hispanics. Married to a Mexican, he speaks fluent Spanish, and he insists that legal immigration is good for the nation. Hispanics are "as American in their pursuit of traditional dreams ... as any other group."

*He has a more accomplished resume than most other possible candidates as well as current office holders.

President-Elect Obama has yet to make a single executive decision and the list of potential 2012 opponents is already starting to gel, Palin, Huckabee, Gingrich, Jindal, Pawlenty & Romney to name a few. Should we be adding Bush to the list? Maybe.

 

We need to do something if we are to survive!!!

There needs to be a change to the Republican Party starting with the graceful exit of the current leadership. They have done their best and they need to step aside. It is clear that we need voices that are current and no longer live in the past, mind you I do not feel we should in any way forget the past we just need to learn from it and move forward.

Further changes or a better way to put it would be that we need to take a "different direction"as a party or better yet return to the direction that this party was founded on. We need to return to our roots as the party for ALL THE PEOPLE and we need to do this by governing again.

We need to keep our values strong and we need to attract a younger base. We are not the strong the party of Conservatives that we once were. We are now considered the party of the extreme that is not willing to change. I have no issue with any one group of the party, but we really need to adjust our thinking to include everyone.

The days of the Grand OLD Party need to evolve into something that all of the people can agree with. I am not suggesting folks to give up there values, I am asking the leadership (especially the leadership in states that were defeated in) to step aside and allow the party to grow with new voices and different ides. Folks if we do not than we might as well fold up our tents and close up shop.

The clock is ticking we only have 2 years to fix the current problem and it needs to start now.

Hoss

 

 

The Promise and Peril of Ethnic Minority Outreach

Bottom Line Up Front: Ethnic minority outreach means "reaching out" to them where they are, not inviting them to where we are. But it doesn't mean pandering to them based on rhetoric tied to their ethnic identity.

A very important part of the RebuildTheParty.com platform is to rebuild our grassroots infrastructure. One of the issues to be debated is how much our party has to centralize or decentralize our grassroots operations; but what's clear is that the fabric of our state, county and local parties has been falling apart.

Part of rebuilding our grassroots infrastructure at the state and local levels has to include pressing the "Restart" button on coalition building among a series of constituency groups, including ethinic minorities. Sophia Nelson, an African-American Republican congressional staffer, writes about minority outreach in an opinion piece in today's Washington Post entitled "It's My Party, But I Don't Feel Part of It."

"The problem, former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele told the Washington Times last week, is that party officials 'don't give a damn.' To them, he said, 'outreach means let's throw a cocktail party, find some black folks and Hispanics and women, wrap our arms around them -- 'See, look at us.' And then we go back to the same old, same old.'

"'The party has simply not understood the importance of having highly visible black Republican operatives, elected officials and political spokespersons working for it on an ongoing basis,' adds an African American who worked for the Republican National Committee during the administration of the first President Bush. 'It's not our message as much as it is our messengers that are killing us.'

"It didn't have to be this way. Only a few years ago, then-RNC chairman Ken Mehlman was aggressively reaching out to the black community. At the NAACP convention in 2005, he apologized for the party's past embrace of racial polarization to gain political advantage. 'We were wrong,' he said. But Mehlman's efforts, like those of George H.W. Bush and President Gerald R. Ford in the 1970s and, ironically, Lee Atwater in 1989, have never really been followed up on in a way that has successfully made inroads and attracted black voters to the GOP fold."

Steele is right! (I have yet to be impressed by any of the candidates for the Chairmanship ofthe RNC, but Steele is starting to impress me.) While having highly visible ethnic minority operatives is nice, we make no effort (no matter what race our party leaders might be) to go to visit African-American churches, Hispanic community meetings, etc. I'm convinced that it has to do with the fact that Republican leaders today don't have the self-confidence and/or feel uncomfortable going to what they perceive as "hostile territory." Whenever I've mentioned the idea of visitng ethnic minority churches to GOP candidates and campaign managers, they've always told me it's a waste of time. This is the type of mentality we need to purge from the GOP: a risk-averse, institutional protectionist attitude that's a disease in our party.

But we have to engage in minority outreach the right way ...

"Consider the comments of Shannon Reeves, an African American who started a college Republican chapter at Grambling State University in 1988. In 2003, he wrote an open letter to the party after it was disclosed that in 1999, a newsletter published by the then-vice chairman of the California Republican Party had carried an essay suggesting that the country would have been better off if the South had won the Civil War.

"'I am tired of being embarrassed by elected Republican officials who have no sensitivity for issues that alienate whole segments of our population,' Reeves wrote. 'This embarrassment is different for a black Republican. Not only do we have to sit in rooms and behave professionally towards Republicans who share this ideology, we have to go home to a hostile environment where we are called Uncle Tom and maligned as a sell-out to the community because of our membership in the Republican Party.'"

While there might be some truth to the need to develop certain sensitivities, we absolutely cannot engage "whole segments of our population" with a message that panders to their identity. Republicans cannot talk about "Black issues" vs. "Hispanic issues" vs. "Asian issues" like the Democrats do. Just take a look at Barack Obama's campaign website: under the "People" tab, there are policy agendas for different ethnic segments of Americans, which I find offending because it is antithetical to Obama's campaign rhetoric of coming together as "one nation."

Nelson provides some other steps, in both the public policy and political realms, that future party leaders should consider:

"Republicans need to go to black churches, colleges and other organizations to make the case for the party as a viable option for African Americans. It should mentor and nurture young black Republicans on college campuses, teaching them to canvass, providing paid internships and encouraging them to attend party rules and platform meetings, where real political power resides. It should introduce elected black state and local officials to the national donor base to help them build their coffers for future elections. It should recruit blacks in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic and in urban districts, offering a Marshall Plan of sorts to rebuild our cities, encourage entrepreneurship and small business start-ups and promote lower taxes for job creation."

These are great ideas. The only problem is that most of these ideas, including invitations to party meetings, would never be accepted by current GOP leaders who want to protect their status. A question to all of the candidates for the RNC Chairmanship: are you willing to take risks? Are you willing to engage in real outreach efforts that don't concede any large segment of voters?

Instead of trying to be creative with a message and tailoring policy around that message (a characteristic that we saw during the McCain campaign), let's be creative with domestic, economic and social policy and tailor our message around those policies. An agenda of "equal opportunity" might be able to reach out to different ethnic groups (and even to centrist constituencies across the board) without pandering to their indentities.

So what are the next steps?

  • Embrace the reality that communities are formed around common identities while also coming up with an agenda that can reach out to all communities. (I've discussed this at length about the Asian-American constituency.)
  • As Patrick discusses, use Web 1.0 and 2.0 platforms to build the netroots of the Right that can merge with a rebuilt grassroots infrastructure. Recruiting activists and educating them about these tools will be critical.
  • Visit every church, every potluck, every ethnic coalition meeting, etc. at the local level to talk about local issues. Any strategy to build a GOP Farm Team must include candidates and party officials that are willing to step outside of their comfort zone.

To put it in twelve words: the next leaders of the Republican Party need to grow a pair.

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