The second of a three part look at the 2012 elections and beyond. Read Part I Here!
The GOP is a party in shambles. There is no solid leadership or sense of direction. There is internal fighting and jockeying for position. The same forces that have resulted in electoral defeat in 2006, 2008, and 2012, are forging ahead to 2014 and 2016. There are real disputes in the Grand Old Party, and these issues are deep enough to split the Republican electorate, and provide further victories for forces that hurt America.
Governor Bobby Jindal and a “Stupid” Party
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s assertion that Republicans should stop being a “stupid” party is surely accurate. My idea of “stupid” may vary from Governor Jindal’s. The GOP has developed a franchise approach to running political campaigns. The list of candidates is limited to the person with the most name ID, or who is next in line, or who is most ‘electable’. Professional political consultants convince the big-money donors that they have found the only one who can win. (See: Dole, Bob; McCain, John; Romney, Mitt)
Republican voters are told Candidate X is the only person who can win, so others need not apply. A primary process is led by states the GOP loses in November. Campaign ads are filmed. Mailers are sent out. Phone banks are set up. The same political consultants, who told donors Candidate X is the only one who could win, personally earn 10% to 15% of the production costs and ad buys for Candidate X. Campaign events are scheduled. The road show is created, hoping to give Candidate X the appearance of “relating” to the American people. Candidate X loses.
According to Albert Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I would suggest that Einstein’s formulation meets Governor Jindal’s comments. Repeating a failed formula is as “stupid” as it is insane.
National Republican Process is Replayed Locally
This is the history of recent Republican Presidential campaigns. Cultivation of the American People is nowhere in the formula. In Part 1, I wrote, “The worst time to court a vote is when you need it. Votes, like relationships, must be nurtured, fostered, cared for, and then requested.” As a member of a Republican Executive Committee, I can tell you that there is no movement within the RNC or the RPOF (Republican Party of Florida) to cultivate voters.
In Florida, the stage is set for a bizarre political contest. In corner 1 is the reigning and defending Republican Governor Rick Scott. In corner 2 is most likely the former Republican Governor, turned sore loser Independent, turned newly awakened liberal Democrat, Charlie Crist. Crist’s public devolution has taken place over 2 years. Even Democrats don’t like him, yet odds are (I hope I am wrong) he will be the next Governor of Florida…Why??? The modern GOP does not know how to cultivate voters and Crist will latch onto the long term work of the Democrats.
A Plan Must Include Personal Contact
What the Republicans have forgotten, or maybe never learned, is that voter contact is a year-round event. The Democrats have perfected this, so it was not surprising that the Dems never left Ohio between 2008 and 2012. They campaigned in Florida for a year and a half before the November, 2012. If the GOP wants to stop being the “stupid” party, we must commit and fund ongoing grassroots campaigning and organizing.
A good friend of mine, a conservative Republican who happens to be black, ran for the Clerk of Court in Hendry County, FL. With little money he personally campaigned heavily in Harlem, Florida, which is 90% black and Democrat. He lost, but he won 30% of the vote in Harlem. He won 30% of the vote the GOP establishment ignores by going into Harlem and establishing relationships. When I was with him one Saturday, the lament from people was, “you Republicans never come here. You ignore us, so we ignore you.” A white Republican campaigned in Harlem alongside my friend and won 35% of that vote.
Personal contact works, but over the long term with a consistent message.
Democrats Have a Long Term Plan from Alinsky
Many conservatives have read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. The result of their reading is anger and angst. They see Alinsky’s tactics and watch the President employ them. The response is to call POTUS an Alinskyite and radical. This is a limited use of the knowledge.
I study Alinsky so I can know the opponent. The opponent has a plan … a really good plan. From the prologue of Rules for Radicals:
“Our youth are impatient with the preliminaries that are essential to purposeful action. … It’s the kind of thing we see in play writing; the first act introduces the characters and the plot, in the second act the plot and characters are developed as the play strives to hold the audience’s attention. In the final act good and evil have their dramatic confrontation and resolution. The present generation wants to go right to the third act, skipping the first two, in which case there is no play, nothing but confrontation for confrontation’s sake…”
Alinsky’s thoughts were translated into the Cloward-Piven strategy, which is the execution of a plan in three acts. Sam Sewell describes how it has been employed for decades. It is a long term plan, and familiarity with it leads to understanding how the President and his allies have been successful by sticking with it. They work the first and second acts to have the desired outcome in the third.
Alinsky Describes Republican Shortcomings & Provides Answer As Well
Reread Alinsky’s prologue and substitute the word “youth” for “Establishment Republicans”. Alinsky’s cynical description of American youth is just as salient when talking about “Establishment Republicans”.
The establishment flares up so it can show voters it means business, and then fails to do the necessary work for purposeful action. They skip to the third act and expect a satisfying result. If the GOP is to assert itself as the dominant brand in American politics, writing and executing the first two acts of the play are required.
That means a long-term legislative agenda coupled with the grassroots activity of building relationships and education.
This is simple. The GOP needs leadership and a plan. The hard part is finding leadership to commit to long term execution and a message built around principles that resonate with the American people and provide legitimacy for governing. What’s next for the GOP goes hand in hand with: Who’s next?
In Part III, we will look at the next wave of leaders in the GOP.
 That is taking a developed formula and using it again. Franchises can be very successful. McDonald’s has a proven franchise formula and continues to open successful stores. Continuing to use a failed franchise formula is a proven path to failure.
 “Electable” seems to be determined by ivory tower concepts without a relation to the real world. Judging by the candidates turned out, “electable” would be defined by the candidate most inoffensive, rather than with the best ideas that can attract the most votes.
 To that end, it’s an industry or business, not a political movement driven by ideas. Philosophy does matter.
 The State of Louisiana and Governor Jindal have been developing a new approach to education, allowing children in failing schools to move to better schools, some private. The vast majority of the students benefitting from this program have been black. The Obama administration has sued to stop the program, essentially asserting it is racist. This comports with Cloward-Piven, creating a crisis that did not exist and then rushing into the rescue.
 No doubt the private Crist has been in a different mode for much longer.