The post mortem assessments of this last election, an ugly one to be sure, are just now being completed, and, like every other election in which we Republicans in California have lost, each faction of the California Republican Party is quick to blame the other factions for the loss. It’s not my fault, they say, it is a conservative message, or cheating by Democrats, or party leaders, or Donald Trump, or Jim Brulte or [insert anybody else’s name but mine here] who are responsible for our losses. The fact is we are a dysfunctional family. We are all to blame for the loss.
Some of my Republican friends who call themselves moderate are quick to blame the conservative message. They are wrong. Conservatives are the heart and the soul of the Republican Party. Abandon the message that brought conservatives to the party, and the party will fall apart. Those in Wrong Way, err..excuse me, New Way California are simply espousing the message that kept the Republican Party in the minority from 1954 to 1980. The resurgence of the conservative message from Reagan, through 1994, through Donald Trump, brought us from a permanent minority to a competitive political position nationally. Facts are facts, from 1980 to today, Republicans have gone from controlling no house in Congress, and control of only 3 state houses to control of 25 statehouses, and control of Congress (until at least January). It is the conservative message of smaller government, less taxes, more individual liberty, stronger families, and life that has made Republicans competitive. To the extent any Republican advocates abandoning that message, he or she advocates a destruction of the Party (which is why the media constantly tries to get us to abandon the message).
However, conservatives, don’t think that, here in California, we have done the Republican Party any favors. When Jim Brulte said this last week that Republicans were not getting our message to the right people, conservatives were quick to attack him. He was not attacking the message, he was attacking our method of communicating the message. We don’t talk to the African American community, we don’t talk to Hispanics. We don’t talk to urban areas. Heck, we don’t even talk to suburban folks if they don’t agree with us. Conservatives spend all their time trying to root out the “RINOs” or the “Establishment” and attack them. All the while, the rank and file Republicans throughout the state grow further away from the party, and we do nothing to attract new people, people who agree with our values, but don’t like us. Our party infrastructure, the community by community volunteer and donor networks, has withered away, as we lose political offices everywhere in the state.
And to our consultants, who this last week took to blaming Donald Trump for California’s losses, my only response is What??? Trump won, you lost, who is right? These consultants blamed a message of “nationalism” over “conservatism.” Leaving aside that this is a distinction without a difference, what would you have us change? Support illegal immigration? That’s just plain stupid. Support free trade? That is a good idea, but Trump won Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, states he had to win, with talk of a trade war. Your advice would have created a President Hillary Clinton. For that reason, we are not likely to see Trump change that message.
We did not lose because of voter fraud, or cheating, or anything other than our own lack of energy. Ballot harvesting and same day registration are legal. Why, consultants, did you not have a plan or program for your candidates to exploit those tools? Is it because you can’t figure out how to get a 15% commission on volunteer and GOTV efforts? As Brulte pointed out, the candidates and their consultants knew about the new laws, and sat idly by while Democrats exploited those new tools. It is not a message of “nationalism” that allowed the Democrats to exploit our failure to utilize the tools available to us. It is providing lazy consultant services. Campaigns are more than mail and commercials. They are connecting with the base, and turning out our vote. There may not be a commission in that, but to not do it is malpractice on the consultant’s part.
And Democrats are not cheating if they utilize all the tools available to them to win elections, that is, if Democrats are smarter and work harder than us. We deserve to lose if they outwork and outsmart us. Conservatives have been sitting at home and whining about voter fraud for far too long. Work harder. If voter fraud is happening, root it out and expose it. It is no longer an excuse for losing elections. It is as much political malpractice for conservatives to blame all their losses on voter fraud or Democrat cheating, as it is for consultants to blame Trump for the consultants’ failed campaign plans. As a movement, we conservatives have allowed our Party to wither away, while we sit in the corner and blame moderates and Democrats for our losses. It is on our heads to rebuild the party, block by block, town by town, city by city, district by district. When we have a statewide political operation, manned by volunteers, at least one in every precinct in the state, we will deserve to win. Until then, quit whining, and start working.
We have met the enemy. And, he is us. We are the problem. We lost because we deserve to lose, and until we face that, we will continue to lose.