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January 29, 2009

Rebuilding A Party

Chris Cavey

If the Republican Party was a person and not an entity, it would be in the hospital – condition listed as serious, awaiting a transplant and full recovery would be expected only after long periods of physical therapy.


The party is experiencing many problems at the same time, all treatable, many are reoccurring from past illnesses and a few are new. Unlike the prognosis from the naysayers, the patient will, in fact, have complete recovery.


The underlying problem is depression. The Ehrlich loss of 2006 was tough to handle for a party who had just had a burst of life and energy in 2002. Regardless of the reasons for the loss, the resulting sickness is party depression and denial, which is not yet healed.


Some Republicans needed a villain for that loss, which included global losses in the legislative branch, too, and we turned inward casting self-inflicted blame. Sure there was a short period where we blamed others, but that did not grow legs in the press, so we pointed at each other.


The fact is we lost ground and Democrats gained politically because of message and public perception. We did not present to the public the goods, services and public servants they wanted to buy, and our message about the aforementioned was confusing, monotone and not heard.


We should have learned from these mistakes immediately, re-grouped and figured out just what the correct message should be and how it should be presented. We need a communications transplant.


We have a great message; it is just stuck in an old delivery system. The themes of prior campaigns still ring true, but the public is tired of messaging re-runs.


Republicans need to have a broader message. Reducing government waste and controlling the tax burden bore by our citizens needs to be just one part of the total package, not the entire message. We need to talk about education, health care and the environment from a Republican perspective.


Some of the finest health care professionals I know are Republicans. Most of the true keepers of the environment with the greatest concern for Maryland’s resources are conservative farmers and watermen who vote Republican, not Democrat activists in suits who lobby in Annapolis or nationally.


Republicans need to activate this multi-faceted base. A lesson I learned as Maryland’s Chairman for the McCain/Palin Campaign was that our party has diverse, well-versed experts in every field. We have a wealth of people waiting to help, wanting instruction and looking for unification.


Between the confusion of political depression and the power grab of Republican political vacuum, we allowed ourselves to stray from the duties of healing our wounds and growing a stronger party. We need to preach our message and gather together all those who wish to join the cause.


Before the end of this week the Republican National Committee will have elected a new chairman. Everyone in Maryland is hoping that person will be Michael Steele because we know he is an articulate man full of hope and optimism for our party. Regardless of their choice, the national party will change to survive.


The depression within the ranks is showing signs of ending. In my travels, signs of new life have been evident in the places you would expect – the local Republican clubs and county organizations. Hope springs eternal when local leaders take control of their own destiny.


This is the beginning of a Republican recovery. The cure has started and the patient is healing; how long until full recovery – not long. Then the education, arduous training and body building will begin, to once again fight another day.


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