Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal for the GOP

Driving home from a monthly Saturday morning meeting with like minded women who have a passion for politics, I was feeling quite disheartened. This is not a feeling I fall prey to very often as I try to remain optimistic that the American voter will come around to some common sense. However, when I listen to women who are educated, articulate, extremely well informed on current events and passionate as conservatives/Republicans go down a road I feel so strongly is the very worst road to travel to rebuild our party, I have to stop and ponder. Is the Republican party truly lost for the next generation or so?

According to recent Gallop polls, only one in every 4 voter now identifies as a Republican. The party has been badly damaged by squandering a dozen or so years of political dominance in Washington, by falling prey to corruption and the greed. Republican leaders, including former President G.W. Bush acted as though money grew on trees and spent like Democrats. The argument that Republicans manage our nation’s piggybank better than Democrats was lost. Add the ill-conceived planning process of the Iraq war with an absolute complete failure to communicate with the American people and we have a whole lot of ground to recover as a political party.

Like many I know, the last national election ignited renewed determination in myself to become more active politically, especially at the local level. I confess, I find national and international politics far more interesting than local and state politics, but the only way to rebuild a political party is to begin at the grassroots level with local and state organizations.

This can not be said enough - we need the help of all like-minded people. All effort is important and no job is too small. Everyone can truly make a difference, one person, one event, one meeting at a time. And, here is the key - we need outreach to all communities.

And, yes, we have to listen. Get out of the echo chamber - you know, only reading blogs written by writers with whom you agree, only talking to people with whom you agree politically, watching only the tv or radio stations with conservative dominance - and listen or read what the other side is putting out there. How can arguments be made to counter the opposite view if you don’t know what the opposite view is and are ready with a different idea? Maybe your head will feel as though it will explode (mine does) but it is very important to listen to the other side.
I am active in a local Republican women’s group. I vote every election. I went to a seminar recently given by an organization out of Arlington, Virginia that taught how to be a successful political candidate and how to organize a political campaign. And, yes, I am a wonk. Not everyone will be interested at this level but we have to encourage others to become well informed and interested.

And, please, may I respectfully ask that the tossing of the “RINO” bomb be stopped? There is no such creature. This is perhaps the most destructive conversation of all. Who is anyone to judge another’s political thought? Let us remember that we, as Republicans, share a common belief that the best government is limited government, that taxes should be kept low, that our nation’s security is the foremost responsibility of its leaders and citizens, and that we were all created to live in freedom. Fiscal conservatism is the core of the Republican party. Social conservatism is a part of both Democratic and Republican parties. Moderates are in both parties and also a part of those who identify as Independents. How have the Democrats turned former red states into purple and blue states? By running conservative Democrats and winning votes of Independents, they have discovered the successful ways of the Reagan glory days.

Ronald Reagan, the greatest American president in my lifetime, knew that politics involves the art of compromise. He was not afraid to sit down and talk to political enemies. Reagan taught Republicans that social conservatism is good but not everything. In today’s world of those wishing a litmus test on Republican candidates using the strictest of social tenets, Ronald Reagan would not measure up. He was divorced, a former Democrat, a union member and leader, and yet he was not afraid to keep his core political beliefs while reaching out to all. Reagan Democrats and Independents put him into office. There are still conservative Democrats and Independents out there waiting for the chance to vote Republican again. We have to earn those votes.

I cringe when I hear “kick him/her out” of the Republican party. That is the same intolerance we point to in the far left. I am saddened when I hear “it’s a waste of time” when speaking of a listening tour by politicians. Isn’t that what the Tea Party movement is all about? Isn’t the goal to get the elected officials to listen to us? And when recently Jeb Bush said we need to move past Reagan, he was right. He meant no disrespect. His father was VP to Reagan! Bush meant that we need fresh leadership and stop relying on the past. Reagan would be the last person to encourage stagnation. He would be out there encouraging the Big Tent. The Big Tent theory brought him into the White House. Now it needs a makeover. Maintaining fiscal conservative values and encouraging the values of family and community is a winning strategy.

Start a conversation. Reach out. Bring another along. Country first.

*CROSS POSTED AT: www.motherofallconservatives.com


Jo said...

Dan always tells me I have to hear both sides, but I'm afraid listening to Keith Olberman or Chris Matthews is more suicide than getting the other side. I understand what you are both saying, but there has to be a point where you know that listening to them won't change anything.

Until the people who like KO and CM start getting uncomfortable with their trash is when we will be able to engage them.

As for RINO (shrug) I don't agree. Its because a once true conservative lost his way this all started. George Bush is just as at fault for laying the groundwork for this horrid man in office now as anyone.

I agree the listening tour is necessary. Someone in our leadership circle has to pay attention to us - the ones in Washington have no power right now, no matter how hard they try. But if Bush & Mitt will take the time to listen and understand, maybe they can also help guide the next leaders.

I don't normally disagree with you on much, but sorry hon, Keith Olberman is not on my radar.

Karen said...

I agree - don't watch MSNBC, they are an utter disgrace with truly dispicable people. Maybe some of the CNN shows - C. Anderson or Wolfie and the gang.

Yes, GWB lost the GOP any right to claim the high ground on fiscal responsibility. Unfortunately, he was elected because of his appeal to the far right on the social issues. Had anyone researched, they would have known his record in Texas. A good man but no fiscal conservative - hence the "compassionate conservatism" theme.

Sterling A Minor said...

As a Democrat, I am heartened by what Jo says, in two ways. First, by repudiating Kate's suggestion to watch, read and listen to the "other side" Jo is encouraging a disasterous strategy of ignorance as a way for getting her people in office. Second, Jo is clearly misguided in thinking that elections can be won in sufficient numbers by those who share her core beliefs, who make up one-fourth of the electorate. While those persons dominate in Pete Olsen's district, in Dan Patrick's district, in Debbie Riddle's district, it is not true in enough places to be the dominate party.