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November 22, 2012

Changing The GOP Litany

Chris Cavey

Happy Thanksgiving! If you are reading this article on Thanksgiving Day, you are a relentless political junkie and you should immediately shutdown your computer and go spend time with your family!


Family and friends are what it is all about – the real and concrete; the world of politics is much less dependable and totally intangible. So, if you must read on (perhaps while waiting for the turkey to cook, or before heading to Grandma's) here are some political ponderings you can use to bore the family as after-dinner conversation.


1. Few will argue the fact the Republican Party needs to take a hard look at its direction, leadership and outreach to voters. Perhaps the re-election of the president was an opportunity for the Republican Party to bring up the "farm team." Had former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney been elected, there would have been as much as eight years of distance before the GOP's rising stars could have shined on a national scene.


Instead, now there is opportunity with a shot at an "open seat" just four very long years away. Plenty of time to make a case for a new generation of GOP candidates, instead of the traditional look to whomever is in "next in line." This cycle's GOP runners-up (those next in line) did not have huge campaign operations to place on idle, nor did they raise vast war chests which would be held in reserve, growing with interest until 2016. Hopefully, they all take an advisory role to a new crop of candidates.


2. The voting public was not energized by a CEO candidate and chose a more dynamic traditional politician. Or did they? Mitt Romney garnered less total votes than John McCain (R., AZ) did in 2008. Senator McCain was hardly dynamic. The rank-in-file GOP talked openly about how unpopular he was up to Election Day! This time there was little complaint about Governor Romney from the GOP; however, they complained loud and clear with their lack of turnout.


Was the man who was viewed as the conservative candidate when challenging Senator McCain in 2008 still not conservative enough? Did the uber-conservative wing of the GOP vote for Senator McCain and not Governor Romney? Seriously? Did those who wish to change the GOP decide to take the socio-economic "hit" just to prove a point? Why would you intentionally burn the house down? Who knows?


3. The GOP is, however, in need of change that is reflected in statewide losses in both the office of the president and Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin, for example. The fact the GOP kept the House is a shallow victory considering the gerrymandering advantages which were picked up by the pens of Republican governors. You can thank the members of the Republican Governors Association for holding the House.


So, why did GOP candidates go down? What message was the public sending to the Republicans? Perhaps the message is: Know your constituency.


Our country (and our state) is being self gerrymandered. Ideas and principles that have been traditionally labeled as urban thought or values have been seeping into the suburban and exurban communities for the past 15 to 20 years. The voting patterns prove these phenomena. It is a practice which will continue as new voters come of age.


The GOP divides and conquers itself as it continues to label those in the party based on perceived values. They comingle and confuse those in the party who are socially acceptant, yet fiscally responsible with the enemy. They have not listened to the general population. Instead, they have drawn a line in the sand.


This past election I helped the Maryland Marriage Alliance work to defeat question Number Six. I made calls to recruit volunteers for two phone banks, to post signs and to man the polls. The "right-wingers" in Baltimore County were hiding... complaining that the GOP was not conservative enough. Question Six lost handily in Baltimore County; it even lost in many GOP strongholds. So, what does that tell you?


4. A man I very much admire always says "Politics is a zero sum game. You win or you lose." Winning a GOP primary is of little value if you cannot win a General Election. It means your platform and ideas as a candidate (or party) are dismissed and rejected by the voting public.


The GOP, in traveling the current divided-party path, will find – unless changes are made – that of the upcoming 2014 primary races will be won by those of a very conservative nature only to lose to moderate Democrats in the General Election. The exceptions will be in the guaranteed Republican win districts. Why can't a GOP candidate win in a district unless the registration is in their favor? Think about it...


Does the GOP run the wrong candidates? Is the constituency so partisan that the races are predetermined? Is the GOP outreach non-existent? Or does the party pay no attention to the changing demographics and thoughts of the voting public?


My prediction of the future of the GOP in Maryland is: (1) lots of infighting as it decides who is in charge; (2) little outreach because the party will continue to be inflexible; (3) limited fund raising because the GOP donor base is changing with the population; and (4) continued opportunities will be missed because the party is looking in the wrong direction. Basically, we will remain status quo...unless and until we discover the party’s constituency.


Enjoy your family, eat lots of turkey and give thanks to God for our country and our freedoms.


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