March 4, 2009

An open letter to the GOP leadership

Having suffered electoral setbacks in 2006 and 2008, it is incumbent upon the leadership of the Republican Party to develop a recovery plan for the reinvigorating of the party and the preservation of the conservative principles we espouse.

Perhaps you are not aware of the reasons for your declining presence in Congress, the Senate and the White House. It’s been ascribed to many things – poor candidates, being too moderate, being too conservative, being too focused on re-election instead of governance. But it really boils down to a few simple factors that it seems, unfortunately, need to be outlined for you as a reminder of what brought the GOP to the heights of Ronald Reagan, and later during the era of the Contract With America.

The Republican Party has gotten away from what’s been referred to as first principles. You don’t need a second Contract With America, although it would be a nice marketing tool, and probably help clear up some confusion. It could also serve as a motivator. But here’s a more basic laundry list to consider. It isn’t actually all that long, but it is pretty specific. The points are really pretty simple, and by following them, you don’t need to worry so much about specifics on how to win. The pieces will end up falling in place by themselves.

Firstly, lead by example. You have been railing against the absurd levels of Democrat spending since the election and the Inauguration. But that doesn’t come across to America as more than partisanship, political posturing, or even worse, whining. What do you stand for, rather than what do you stand against? You don’t think banks and automotive companies that have been poorly run should be bailed out? Then neither should the government.

Promise fiscal restraint, and then deliver it. If you’re going to make a Contract 2.0, or however else you wish to promote your own vision (which you MUST do), you have to guarantee that if your party is returned to power, you will no longer submit deficit budgets. All budgets submitted will be balanced. If the Democrats intend to filibuster it, stand your ground (a point to be elaborated on below). On drilling for domestic oil – participate in grass roots efforts to promote domestic drilling – if you have to do it at a state level, do it. Leading by example often means being on the front lines.

Second point – live your beliefs. You believe in a strong national defense? Defend people like Rush Limbaugh when they are unfairly portrayed or attacked by the mainstream media. You want the private sector innovation to solve the economic crisis? Innovate yourself – don’t rely on a tired playbook to get your message out. Don’t get comfortable in the D.C. mindset – it keeps you distant from your supporters.

Don’t be hypocritical about how you live versus what you say – think Ted Stevens corruption. How can you be in favor of fiscal restraint yet be accepting bribes and accepting pork for your state? That’s a black eye on the party. If you believe in conservative ideals then live them. If you don’t believe in them then you are in the wrong party, get out.

To sum it up in a sentence: Be true to your faith in the Constitution and free market capitalism.

Thirdly, Don’t hide from the fight or wither under criticism. You should know by now the media are not your friends. They may be friendly towards you but those are crocodile smiles they flash. At the first sign of a fight, they will not only abandon you, but they will rip you to shreds like a wounded wildebeest. You want a recent example? John McCain. You want an example of how they are when there’s blood in the water? Sarah Palin. George Bush. Compare the treatment of Larry Craig with that of “Cold Cash” Jefferson – frenzy versus a yawn.

So if you can’t get a fair shake from them, don’t try to win them over. Instead, stand your ground. Stick to your guns. You’ve got nothing to lose. It might help to talk in short, but clear sentences so that things don’t get taken out of context. And maybe instead of ‘I hope he fails’ go with ‘I hope he changes his mind on his policies’.

Which leads to the fourth point – Communicate your ideas and accomplishments effectively, and often. Conservatives don’t trumpet their achievements from the rooftops – it’s not our style. But in politics salesmanship is important. You need people to know what good you’ve done. Most politicians are comfortable with selling themselves, but you need to be doing it constantly in order for the message to sink in. In politics, with only half an ear listening by much of the public, repetition is important. It's the only way to get people to retain the message. Why do you think you see the same piece of junk mail every month or the same commercial dozens of times a day?

The other part it, is to communicate effectively. You can’t rely on the mainstream media to promote your points, to publicize your points or to even not try to twist your points through a liberal filter. You have to control the conversation and when they own the microphone, you can’t do that. Do an end run like Reagan did. Take your message directly to the people. How many Republican leaders turned out for the Tea Parties across the nation? Perhaps a few well placed Congressional Representatives sprinkled across the country would have gotten a little more attention for the effort. Certainly you can leverage the work of others to help accomplish this – Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh. They share your beliefs, so don’t be afraid to embrace them and leverage them to help spread your word.

But go beyond that. You’ve got to be masters of community outreach. You’ve got to take our message to the uninvolved, because they won’t come to you if they don’t know you’re speaking. And the message certainly won’t be delivered, or delivered fairly, by the press. So go to churches, go to Union meetings, go to the NAACP, go to Hispanic citizen’s groups (perhaps not La Raza, but others). Go everywhere. Many people in these ‘groups’ have conservative values but don’t even realize that they are voting against their beliefs when they vote Democrat. Conservative principles are not gut-level principles. They require discussion. They require that “a-ha” moment. Where are you doing that? Where are you promoting that? Where are you defining what conservatism is and what we as conservatives believe? Just do it! The existing model for winning is clearly broken, or simply beaten. Why stick with it?

Fifth – know your friends, know your enemies. As a corollary- pick your battles accordingly. It needs to be spelled out. Your enemies are the mainstream media. Your enemies are the weak Republicans who side with the Democrats when there needs to be a unified front – either you believe in conservative principles or you don’t. Your enemies are the Democrats. These people are working against your purpose. Be aware and act accordingly.

Conversely your friends are people to be defended and supported. Be forgiving of friends’ errors, and ruthless in taking advantage of the errors of enemies. Don’t be ashamed to be that way. The Democrats do it, and they often do it brazenly and shamelessly. Guess what, they’re winning the culture war.

For too long Republicans, conservatives have fought with one arm tied behind their back. You’ve tied it there yourselves with kow-towing to the media, with drifting away from conservative values. But you can maintain your principles and still fight. In fact, if you don’t maintain your principles, why bother fighting? And if you don’t fight for your principles, why bother having them in the first place? You have to ask yourselves if you still believe. And if you do still believe, then why aren’t you being fierce in your dedication to preserving and defending the Constitution and the free market?

If you can answer both of those questions positively – you still believe and you are still fighting then you deserve to be a leader in the party. If you can’t answer both questions positively, you need to retire. It’s that simple.


  1. Wow, that's good! I hope the new party chairman reads this.

  2. Good article, in Chicago they have both hands tied behind their back.
    They do not support good candidates,
    we need strong people with good
    strong ideas. Your right they do not
    reach out to people of the
    neighborhoods; the middle class that
    pay taxes and work for what they

  3. Great letter; I think we have been drinking the same water or something. My wife says that sounds like the same thing I have been preaching to anyone that would listen. We just got involved in local Republican politics, here in Washington state,(used to live in Arizona, very conservative). Trying to bring the party back from the inside.

  4. This is good.

    The GOP needs to realize that when it gets away from conservatism, it loses. If they are just going to be Democrats-lite, people might as well vote for the real thing.

    I always wonder why the conservatives on TV or radio understand what needs to be done, but most of those who run or get elected do not. Can't the politicians listen to the same commentary as the rest of us? They might learn something.

  5. Thanks everyone for the feedback. Hopefully someone like Steele or McConnell will read it. I've sent it to them on Twitter, but they don't seem to be "power users".

  6. Well composed and succinct. I will cut some out of it and link back.. Worth passing along.

  7. Well said! ---- And I'd like them to know that they can stop calling me asking for donations. Give me something to invest in, GOP! You've wasted my money in the past and given me crap for candidates. And now you want more? Get real!

  8. Hi Bill here is another one,

    Know what talking points you will face, how to debunk them and destroy false leftist propaganda premises on the spot.

  9. Great article! I am also tired of "Progressives" masquerading as "Republicans", who have no commitment to their oath of office - to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. GOP needs to go back to its roots - fiscal responsibility, uphold Constitutional Rights and Civil Liberties, support free markets, and start standing up for AMERICA and AMERICANS!


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