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Ray Haynes

It’s the Message, Stupid (and Oh Yeah, Hard Work)

Republicans are stupid about politics. That’s one of the rules of political discourse. We are always outsmarted by Democrats, we are out-technologied by Democrats, and, all things being equal, we lose. The fact is, we should lose more, we only win because our message has persuaded a lot of voters to entrust us with power, in just about every state but California.

But let’s get back to the rule…about stupidity, Republicans and politics. Two examples, first gerrymandering. For years, Republicans campaigned for, and finally received, a “nonpartisan,” rather than “political,” solution to gerrymandering. When I spoke out against the initiative that provided for the supposedly nonpartisan commission, I was told that fair districts were the Republicans only chance of getting a majority in the Legislature, and a nonpartisan commission was the only chance of getting “fair” districts. So…we got a nonpartisan commission, which was staffed with partisan Democrats, and what we got was a worse gerrymander than we would have ever gotten if the lines were drawn by legislators (as the redistricting in 2001 proved). Stupid, Stupid. The fact is, redistricting is ALWAYS political, always partisan, no matter how the process is set up. No one, not a court, not a “nonpartisan” commission, NO ONE can set up a standard, guidelines, or any other process, that some smart political operative can’t outsmart, and use to their advantage. Too much power is at stake to leave the process to amateur politicians, like judges or commissioners.

The second example, term limits. I began as a supporter of term limits. My time in the Legislature changed my mind. Republicans have been hurt by term limits, because our smartest political minds have been replaced in the Legislature by neophytes. Nothing against the current occupants, but Republicans like Ross Johnson (one of our great political minds, so sad to see him leave us), Jim Brulte, John Lewis, and others were forced out, and we lost their political and policy insights, leaving current occupants to make their mistakes over and over again. The Democrat machine, once led by Willie Brown, has remained in place, year after year, taking care of the politics of power, moving in and out of government as necessary, to make sure the D’s stay in charge. Our folks struggle to survive, and term limits make sure that we lose the continuity only experience can provide.

The fact is, political fixes don’t work. The D’s have confounded every effort we have tried when we have focused on the edges, and not the core. Technology and process based solutions are NOT the answer. The top two primary, gerrymandering, and term limits solutions have solidified the D’s control of this state, and proved the maxim that Republicans are stupid about politics and process. Only one thing works…Our Message. We have only hung on around the country, and in California, when we kept a strong pro-freedom, small government, anti-tax message. When we get off track, we lose. When we think we will win with process based, not content based, solutions, we lose, because the D’s will always have greater resources to throw at a solution. All we have is our message.

And, oh yeah, hard work. We won’t have more money, more political professionals, more technology, or the ability to sell our message more easily than the D’s. The media is the propaganda arm of the left wing of the Democrat party. The only way to overcome the advantages the D’s enjoy is house by house, neighborhood by neighborhood, town by town, city by city. A coherent district by district plan, worked diligently, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year by those paid to be in politics will work. No amount of press releases, television news shows, political commercials, or the like will win the day. We can’t outsmart the Democrats, but we can outwork them, and we have to work harder than them if we want to win.

The message, that is, a strong commitment to the principles of liberty, and hard work is the only way to win. The Supreme Court won’t save us with a “balanced” approached to gerrymandering. No solution they propose will solve the problem of politics in gerrymandering. Gerrymandering has been with us since 1792, and will be with us no matter how the Supreme Court rules, and just like campaign contribution reform, a so-called reform will push the politics underground, less discernible by voters. We will win if we work hard with the right message, nothing else will work.