Monday, April 15, 2013

GOP Leaders Speak to the Way Forward on PBS's Red, White and Blue

"Conservatism begins with facing facts." That quote was spoken by George Will on Sunday's This Week program.

The most recent Red, White and Blue show on Houston's PBS featured local, state and national figures of the Republican party from the Harris and Galveston county areas.  Harris County Republican party chairman Jared Woodfill, Galveston County Republican party chairwoman Barbara Meek and Dr. Robin Armstrong, Texas Republican National Committeeman were panel participants, along with Lane Lewis, Harris County Democrat party chairman. The topic: Does the Republican Party need a makeover?

Host David Jones, the liberal, started off with a question to Armstrong who then spoke about the RNC reflection paper recently released and the upcoming RNC meeting in Los Angeles.  Jones asked if Armstrong would be the only minority present. This is how the left works - divisive race baiting. So, no surprise there. It was just obnoxious that it was the very first question asked.

 Woodfill noted that we need to grow the party in communities not traditionally served by the local party. Then he launched into a tirade that we must not, however, lose our principles.  This promotes the fallacy that in order to be a welcoming party, the members of that party somehow abandon principles. Meek said that Galveston county has a diverse party and that the delegates to the last Republican Party of Texas convention were majority women.

Gary Polland, the conservative host, brought up the criticism that some say the RNC report on the party was written by "RINOs" who want to be more moderate in tone and strategy.  This is when Armstrong launched into his boast that the RNC would vote on reaffirming the party platform plank that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Robin Armstrong denied that gay partners were discriminated against in legal situations - such as those involving hospital stays. He said he knows this because he is a doctor. How inconvenient that THIS STORY surfaced recently.  He was cringe worthy in listening to as he continued to say "homosexual" instead of using the term gay in referencing marriage equality and what all that legal status entails.  You may not think that is a big deal but it is part of the tone in politics and it is divisive. Also, it is just a term used by those out of touch with how the general population speaks. Armstrong's denial of the truth of stories in the news concerning the difficulties gay partners have in everyday life is embarrassing.

Polland pointed that were it not for the stance on gay equality, a majority of gay voters would vote Republican as they show involvement in fiscal conservatism.

Woodfill then pivoted into the fact that social issues have to be drummed into the public discourse.  This is, of course, why the local party is failing to grow - so many are turned off by the constant barrage of purity tests showed to those willing to step forward and be precinct chairs or working with the committee on Richmond Avenue.

As Jonah Goldberg wrote in a column earlier this year:
But politics is about persuasion, and a party consumed by the need to prove its purity to its base is going to have a very hard time proving anything else to the rest of the country.
David Jones asked if the Fort Bend Tea Party leader was a part of the local GOP - he was recently reported to be a member of the American Fascist Party. No one discounted him, by the way.  They were too busy saying that the Tea Party is indeed a welcomed part of the GOP.

Barbara Meek tried to blame the "mainstream media" for bad coverage of the GOP message, but Polland rightfully pointed out that some "stupid things" were said by GOP candidates and the media can't be blamed if the GOP doesn't communicate effectively.

"You don't win by just being against things, you only win by being for things and making your message perfectly clear." - Margaret Thatcher

Woodfill says as Republicans we should be talking about turning New York and California into red states rather than focusing on the fact that Texas is poised to be a purple, maybe blue state again.  This defies logic but that is the reason Harris County Republicans are losing the fight.  Galveston County is moving more strongly Republican, in contrast.

To his credit, Armstrong spoke to the fact that the GOP has to go into communities not currently served by Republicans and win over hearts and minds.  He then, however, went on to say we must stop any influx of  moderates in the party. He doesn't think the primary would be moved up before March 1st because of punitive penalties now in place with the national party - Texas would lose our full amount of delegates.  He said Texas needs a full slate of  delegates to the national convention to "keep the moderates in line and in check". Seriously, this is so wrong and pig-headed.  This is why the party continues to shrink.

Woodfill was asked if Republicans determine who the mayor will be in the mayoral elections - with one on the horizon.  He answered yes.  What he didn't say is that he and those on Richmond Avenue have nurtured and recruited any candidates on the Republican side to run in the race.  They haven't.  Republicans traditionally have to chose the lesser liberal of Democrat candidates to be Houston's mayor.

Republican leadership on all levels shows that a state of deep denial is prevalent.  Simply saying we have to go to under served communities to sing the praises of conservatism is not a plan.  There has been enough time since the last election to see actual results of work - such as setting up satellite posts in all areas of the county - and registering voters at events - yet this is not the case.  Assuming that minority voters will flock to the GOP because of social issues has proven wrong-headed.  Continuing to blame moderate voices in the party for losses at the ballot box is slowly killing off the party.  If  a small minority of far right social conservatives continue to issue threats of staying home on election day or perhaps going third party, then who will want to be associated with such small minded and rigid ideology?

As an update, the Red, White and Blue show was obviously taped before the show aired.  The RNC did, in fact, meet and vote on reaffirming a party platform against gay equality in Los Angeles last week.

The national Republican Party rebuffed its own chairman's rebranding effort Friday with a unanimous vote reaffirming that the party sees marriage as strictly the union of a man and a woman.The vote by the 168-member Republican National Committee, the party's steering panel, came less than a month after GOP national chairman Reince Priebus released a searing, 98-page appraisal of the GOP's political vulnerabilities that called for Republicans to show greater tolerance on social issues such as gay rights.The RNC resolution described traditional marriage as "the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America."

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