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|Where Does the GOP Go From Here?|
|Commentary/Politics - Guest Commentaries|
|Written by Administrator|
|Wednesday, 03 December 2008 02:26|
(Editor's note: Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa Christian Alliance and a Republican National Committee member, sent the following e-mail to Iowa Republicans in the wake of the November election. This, and two replies, are reprinted here with permission.)
Dear Fellow Republicans:
Election Year 2008 is now history. I am sure that you have had time to reflect on the results, what went right, what went wrong, and where do we go as a party from here. At a first glance, the results were discouraging. But let's put all the facts in perspective:
• History was not on our side. The downturn in the economy in the last few weeks leading up to the election only seemed to remind Americans that they wanted "change." You and I know that that "change" is dangerous, but the message of two diametrically opposed political agendas just didn't seem to get through.
• Our Republican candidates were greatly outspent both at the federal and state levels.
• We were out-organized. There is no denying that the Democrat machine, the Democrat Party of Iowa, and the Obama campaign were organized down to having every "i" dotted and every "t" crossed.
• Our message as a party could have been a lot more clearly defined than it was.
I am sure that you can come up with many other reasons why this election was not what we wanted, but these are some of my thoughts.
Now let's get down to the bottom line:
• John McCain lost Iowa by 9 percentage points (not the 17 points predicted by the last Des Moines Register poll). Additionally, this vote spread was only 3 percentage points off the national average.
• Overall, when you consider the negative mood of the country, we fared much better in Iowa than might be expected. Political pundits were predicting that Republicans would lose four to six Senate seats in the state. Instead, we lost only one. Additionally, the newly elected Republican state senators are individuals that are solid conservatives who will engage the Democrats and will not be content to be back-benchers.
• Political pundits were predicting that Republicans would lose four to eight House seats in the Iowa House. Instead, we lost only two or three. Again, like their Senate counterparts, this freshman class consists of individuals who worked hard, enunciated the issues clearly, and will engage the Democrats.
• Both Congressman Tom Latham and Congressman Steve King racked up one of their largest victories ever!
Why did Republicans fare better than political pundits were predicting? There were two reasons:
(1) Republican candidates for Congress and the Iowa House and Senate worked hard, were involved in their communities, and had that clarity on issues. While Obama was sweeping the state, Democrats could not capitalize, because Iowans don't buy the Democrats' broken agenda of bigger government, higher taxes, and government-dictated social standards.
(2) Your hard work paid off!
I want to thank each and every one of you that worked day in and day out to help elect our Republican candidates. Your work is greatly appreciated and we don't ever want to take you for granted.
Now let's talk briefly about the challenges that face the Republican Party of Iowa:
• We must rebuild the Republican Party from the bottom up. We must begin that process right now. The Democrat Party of Iowa is probably the most organized state party in the entire country. The Republican Party has sadly become seemingly irrelevant to most people and our candidates. That must change! And that will change when we work together in a unified fashion. We cannot allow our minor differences to divide us!
• We must engage Republicans across the board in pulling this all together. We must engage county GOP chairs, county central committees, activists, state legislators, county elected officials, and donors. We want your input. You have my promise that I will work toward that end.
• We must begin that rebuilding process right now. If we don't, Iowa will rapidly become a blue state. We cannot allow that to happen, because our kids' and grandkids' future rests on the conservative agenda prevailing.
We have a long and challenging road ahead of us to be the party that is relevant and a force that can help our candidates and county organizations. But with your help and your input, we will get the job done!
"The Party Blew It"
The party blew it when it rejected the most conservative, most honest man we've seen in decades - Ron Paul. He had real solutions.
A lifelong Republican, I will will be changing my affiliation to "independent."
I am not alone.
The Republican party is not significantly different from the Democrats. They're both only concerned with party first while the country falls apart. I don't think it's worth saving.
I only hope the Democrats also self-destruct, so liberty reigns.
The Party of Principles
My frustration with the election and the Republicans' performance in it is due to several factors. Most importantly is that I think the Republican party was well positioned to be the "party of principle" this election and to win based on our platform after leaving the state convention. I spent hours working on the platform, and the majority of the amendments I offered were passed both at district and at state. I had overwhelming compliments from several committee members about how we needed this passion for Republican values. The party of principles can only stay strong when we stick to those principles and only vote for Republicans who keep our Iowa platform. Then the Iowa Republican party threw that away, to follow what the media and the rest of the states thought we should vote for in a president.
It was not funding or the media that cost us the election but our choice of candidates. For the right candidate, I would have sold my car, canceled my cell phones, and walked to work just to max my contributions and pass literature along the way. As a constant conservative activist for the past 15 years, I have become very familiar with most candidates, but especially those at the national level that have a history of crafting legislation and voting for it. John McCain has sided with the Democrats in the Senate more often than the Republicans. He has supported most gun-control schemes unless the vote was announced far enough in advance for his constituents to mobilize. He created the McCain-Feingold bill, taking away our right to information in the critical stages of an election. He supported illegal-immigrant amnesty, twice, including a secret closed-door drafting to try and sneak it by. John McCain was endorsed by the liberal New York Times; he was endorsed by the Des Moines Register; what were we thinking?
John McCain's support during the campaign of the poorly planned, anti-Republican bailout of major banks sabotaged any chance we had of keeping the few wavering conservatives who bolted to the Constitution and Libertarian parties.
Now for solutions.
First some procedural changes. As the party of principle, the Iowa GOP should start debating the platform first before selecting any candidates. Since there is a chairman of the platform committee, he could start off and run the proceedings, and we could elect a permanent chairman after we discussed our principles. We must know what we believe before we vote for a candidate.
Second change. The Iowa GOP must endorse the candidate that best matches our platform, not who looks like most of the rest of the states have endorsed. The national GOP came up with a "New Platform of New Ideas for a New Party." That stinks of abandoning our principles so a few political hacks at the national level can destroy all we worked for at the district and state levels. We must be prepared to break with the national party when they craft a platform that deviates significantly from our own. That is the only tool left to coerce the national GOP into listening to the little people again.
Third change. If a sitting incumbent votes against our platform, he must lose the support of the party. The liberal Republicans such as some states have produced must be replaced in the primary despite losing the "incumbent advantage." Our county sheriff who won't support concealed carry is a local example; a sheriff who issues and a district attorney who won't prosecute self-defense would go a long way to building trust at the local level. We must start rebuilding the trust in our principles, and only placing principle over winning can we rebuild enough trust to win. We had a candidate whose principles were so solid that the Libertarian and Constitution parties both offered not to run candidates if we would nominate that candidate. Had we nominated him, we would have had their energetic grassroots support. Sadly his loyalty to our platform and principles put him at odds with the national party, and Iowa toed the line. We held our noses and voted for McCain, a liberal RINO much like Arlen Specter, Democrats running a false flag operation in our party.
We must also start displaying loyalty to the people by weakening the national power center that takes so much from us in taxes, in liberty, and in voice. Only by returning power to our legislature not Washington can Iowa matter again. I urge all Republicans to support a constitutional amendment repealing the 16th Amendment. Only then can the federal government and its vast bureaucracy run by Democratic policies be reduced to a level not detrimental to the welfare of the states and people. Our local elected officials must ensure that due process is granted to all Iowa citizens when dealing with the national bureaucracies.
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