I am a conservative. I believe in conservative principles, and have spent my time in politics fighting for those principles. Less Taxes–I worked to lower the car tax in 1998, and helped keep it low throughout my remaining time in the Legislature. Safe neighborhoods–I helped pass Three Strikes in 1994 (the right three strikes, not the watered down one that is now in effect). At each turn, through legislation and political activity, I spent my effort pushing the conservative agenda. Even in the party fights, I fought for conservatives to run the party. I sat in the meetings when we conservatives planned the strategies to keep the Republican Party in conservative hands.
And we conservatives blew it. We mishandled the party, its operations, its money, its organization, and we have reaped the results of our actions in the losses that have occurred.
Don’t get me wrong. The party’s principles shouldn’t change. We must focus on freedom, family, free enterprise and strong communities. That being said, we conservatives spent so much time trying to maintain philosophical purity that we forgot that the purpose of the party is strengthen the Republican infrastructure throughout the state.
Office holders have the first responsibility to keep their areas strong. As a for instance, when I was first elected in Western Riverside County, there was only 2 Republican clubs in my entire district (CCR and CRA units, RWF units, and other clubs committed to promoting Republican principles). 2 total. By the time I left, I had 12 clubs of various sizes throughout the entire district. I knew I needed them to keep my area strongly Republican.
However, the Party is key to developing that same infrastructure in districts where there is not an elected Republican legislator or member of Congress. The Party has to marshal the resources, provide the support, develop the organization, through county central committees and volunteer action to develop the infrastructure in off years, so that when the election year arrives, there is something to work with. We conservatives have done nothing, or at least very little, to develop that infrastructure. As a result, instead of us invading and taking Democrat districts, the Dems have invaded and taken our districts. The Democrats have little to worry about us. We recruit the B team in a lot of districts, and too often we make those candidates feel unwanted and without allies. As the number of districts held by Republicans has shrunk, the number of people working to develop that Republican infrastructure has shrunk as well. A lot of officeholders do little to develop the infrastructure in their own district, and absolutely nothing to help in any other district.
That has to change. Office holders have to adopt neighboring districts and help develop the infrastructure in those districts. The party has to focus on “nonRepublican” districts, and come up with a statewide plan to develop that infrastructure. The plan has to start in February of the odd numbered years, and has to be worked with all available resources each month until the election. Dems need to know it’s happening, and need to be somewhat afraid that they might lose their offices. Otherwise, the Dems will just keep working our districts and take them away from us.
This is the prime directive for the party. Both sides of the party (conservative and moderate) should declare a “truce” on internal fights. No more calling Rs RINOs. No more moves to change the party platform. No more attacks against each other in the newspapers and other media sources. We can disagree, but keep those disagreements to ourselves. Focus on elections and organizing, and that’s it. No more “New Ways,” no more blaming, just working on building an infrastructure, a precinct organization in every precinct in the state. A registration program that stanches the bleeding, and a peace, no matter how uneasy, until we get a majority in the legislature.
Once we get to a majority in both houses, we can fight all we want. Until we get there, we shut up and work.