Building a GOP Farm Team

Today, David Brooks gave praise to Reihan Salam's and Ross Douthat's new book, Grand New Party, in an op-ed entited "The Sam's Club Agenda". (Two days ago, Patrick Ruffini posted and encouraged everybody to start reading and debating.) I plan on going to the Barnes & Noble across the street from where I work today to buy it.

While I haven't read the book yet, Brooks made an interesting observation on Salam and Douthat's vision: "This is not compassionate conservatism (which flattered the mind of the compassionate donor), it’s hard-work conservatism, which uses government to increase the odds that self-discipline and effort will pay off."

Bottom line up front: all politics still seems to be local. While the federal government is involved in a lot of bread-and-butter economic issues for the middle class, voters obvioulsy feel very removed from what goes on inside the Beltway; yet, a larger amonut of folks pay attention to local and state issues, partly because you are more likely to have a connection and conversation on a first name basis with your city councilman or state representative than you are with your senior U.S. senator. (An unrelated question: how has new media affected the mantra that all politics is local?)

Major league/professional sports teams have "farm team" systems where they can identify and train prospects. The best franchises in baseball have fully developed minor league system: Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, etc. The NBA only recently saw the usefulness of having a minor league system with the NBDL. Here's an observational question (and I look forward to responses/disagreements/debate on this): Do the Democrats today have a better "farm team" system than the Republicans? My answer would be yes, because not only have liberal/left-leaning organizations and the DNC have been involved in identifying and training politicians and aspiring politicians at the local and state level; they have supported these candidates using Web2.0 tools like ActBlue.

[I also bring this up in light of a report that was released by House Republicans responding to why they just lost some special Congressional elections. The report apparently states that: "None of the candidates nor their allies successfully established themselves and their local brand in contrast to the negative perception of the national GOP."]

Now the real question: What can the next Republican Party do to develop our "farm team" system? The point here is that a lot of the middle class economic issues are problems that can be solved with conservative principles and policies at the local and state level: property/sales/severance taxes, transparency in budgeting, taxpayer-backed bonds, and accountability in education. And while we on the right like delegating power to state and local leaders on legitimate state and local issues, I believe that any national center-right organization and the next Republican Party need to have much closer coordination with state parties, local leaders, and potential local leaders to both identify (in the long term) those who can move up within the system and to identify (in the short term) local issues that are important to the middle class.

If we're going to have a broader Republican Party, and if we buy into Salam and Douthat's vision, developing the Republican Minor League will be just as important, if not more important, than keeping the Republican Major League in line.

- MM

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Very insightful observations.

If the GOP is to make a successful turnaround in the coming year, then having "farming operations" will be important. Establishing strong state and local leaders around the country will enable the Republican Party to compete in every state (or almost every state) every election cycle. Nonetheless, it cannot be forgotten that such efforts will likely also diversify policy positions among Republican officeholders as well as Republicans more generally.

We have an institutional problem downballot

The local big government special interests are very active in recruiting candidates for legislative office. In my state there is no Christian Right to speak of, and the NRA is a factor in only about 40% of the state. The business lobby is happy to try and cut the best deal it can with the least offensive folks who get elected, and does not promote folks at the lower rung to potentially move up.

As a result, the GOP in my state tries and get by by nominating a lot of folks who are locally popular due to their prominent local families or running local nonprofit groups. Needless to say this is not necessarily a formula for a vocal advocate for conservative issues. 

I think the demoralization of moderate/conservative young professionals towards the national GOP is a huge problem of dimensions of which we are only slowly coming to grips with.


Correct! We need to run in every race!

My Republican friend in Austin TX wont even has his business group help conservatives get on the city council because its 'hopeless' so they are stuck in repeated lesser of two evils races.

Then we have other 'advisors' who idiotically (IMHO) state that we should *never* run candidates in "unwinnable" races. yeah, message on that: you never get points on defense.

I am helping a friend in a race where the previous attempt only got 36%. but this was won by a Republican in 2002.

We need to fight for every singe race. The great thing about the web is that you can have a vialbe campaign based on grassroots and internet for a lot less than before. The liberals learned it and its high time we did as well and RUN IN EVERY RACE!



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I agree.

They say recognizing the problem is half the battle. Well, guys, "Iironman" has some party experience. He has just given you the present problem. 

The first thing you need to bring about reform in the party is money. You need money to keep the local party head quarter's doors open, to pay the rent, the furniture, office equipment. The people who do this now is the corporate class. These people don't necessarily support ideology. They support winners, pure and simple. Because they money they spend on the party, they are looking for a return -- access. If your guy doesn't win, they don't get access.

So the first thing that needs to take place in order to bring about the Grand Next Party, is this present party has to lose and lose big, or come up with another funding source that will replace corporate donations, or a combination of both

ex animo



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