What’s wrong with the Republican Party? The thought occurred to me a couple years ago while attending a Candidates Forum at the Crow Canyon Country Club in Danville. At this “rubber chicken” event were the Central Committee members of the GOP, who were trying to figure what and whom to endorse in the sample ballot to be sent out to voters.
Sitting on one side of me at the banquet table was a lady who was trying to convince me of the connection between marijuana, heroin, and the recent robberies of convenience stores. On the other side was a gentleman who prided himself in connecting with young voters since he related so well with his Grandchildren. I was trapped. Compared to these folks I felt little better than a parolee from San Quentin!
As it turned out, the people at my table were flaming liberals compared to some of other speakers that spoke to the audience. One candidate was fixated on anti-abortion matters referring to the Pro-Life proponents as “Baby killers.” Another conservative candidate came just short of calling his Democratic opponent a “communist”; but the thought was definitely there for those in attendance at this GOP get together.
For a moment I thought I was either attending a John Birch Society reunion or an AARP convention. These people were old, nasty, mean zealots, who were totally out of touch with the electorate they were trying to get to vote for Republican candidates. Welcome to the GOP in California, circa 2013.
Let’s face it. In partisan races for any office above City Council, the GOP in California has fallen off the Relevance Cliff. I can’t think of any Republicans who have recently been elevated to higher office. There is not one Senator, Assemblyman, or “dog catcher” in Northern California who even admits to being a Republican. The closest one the GOP has to having one of their own holding office is Jerry Brown!
Were the Republican Central committee operating a football team, the coach, general manager, and scouts would be fired and new people brought in to run the franchise. So what is happening with the Republican Party these days? To find out, I checked with the local Contra Costa branch and left a message to see if an interview could be arranged.
Phoning the local Contra Costa Republican Party did not bring me any call backs. Things worked out even worse when I spoke with Chairman of the State organization, Tom Del Beccaro. When I identified myself as a columnist for Halfway to Concord, he said “I hate Bill Gram-Reefer and won’t talk to anyone affiliated with that libelous piece of trash.” Apparently, Mr. Del Beccaro did not care for, among other things, the review on this web site for his 2008 “book,” The New Conservative Paradigm, that Gram-Reefer referred to as “Ebonics for Republicans“.
I then considered attending the GOP holiday party at a private house in Blackhawk. On second thought I was intimidated by my lack of “resort casual” apparel and the ban on red wine at this event. With no co-operation from CoCo GOP big-wigs in sight, I was left to find out how prominent Republican legislators planned to resurrect the party to eventually overcome the current Democratic veto proof “Super Majority” in the legislature.
Senate leader Bob Huff admitted there was a problem when he said, “Many have asked me after the election How will the Republican Party remain relevent with a Democratic Super Majority? The answer to that question is admitting the status quo is flawed, that’s our first step. Next we must make efforts to move forward and learn from our past mistakes.” Huff went on to say, “There are plenty of opportunities for us to reform California through good ideas and hard work. Senate Republicans are willing to do our part.”
GOP Assembly leader Connie Conway took a similar tact when she stated, “Our Democratic friends like to say the Republican Party has struggled because we are the “party of no”. Conway wants to overcome this perception by presenting proposals to reform education, prisons and excessive spending by the legislature.
These lofty goals are easier said than done as Republican power has steadily eroded in the legislature. Along with this downward spiral the GOP has almost ceased to be force in Northern California politics. Ex-Congressman Peter Stark is especially aware of this as he was defeated by another Democrat in the general election because a Republican candidate did not qualify for the November ballot.
Outside of alienating single women, Latinos, young voters, blacks, and virtually anyone under 40 years of age, what is to be the Republican’s new course?
Joe Mathews, Senior fellow with the New America Foundation feels education reform will provide the best opportunity to resurrect the GOP. Mathews asserted, “schools are attended mostly by young people. They”re interested in the schools. The party has been speaking mostly to old people. A focus on schools forces Republicans to engage with younger Californians, to listen to their aspirations, and try to use the party’s values to serve these young people.” In addition, Mathews thinks Republicans concentrating on education will help connect them with ethnic minorities who have given up on the party.
Regardless of whether education, taxes, pension reform, or job creation provide the ammunition to propel Republicans to at least eliminate the current “Super Majority”, in the 2014 election, they have a daunting task ahead. The question is where to start.
On a personal note, I suggest stop hanging up on people such as myself and getting rid of some of the social conservatives running the party whose ideas more resemble “Ozzie and Harriot” than what is seen on Facebook and the social media.
Assemblywoman Huff pointed out. “All political parties have their ups and downs but remember the Republicans served in the majority in the Assembly just 16 short years ago.” I am confident that Republicans have the solutions Californian’s are seeking”, Huff added.
Perhaps so, but the GOP might want to consider seeking protection under the Endangered Species Act along with “Lying Newts”, “Mitt Hamsters”, “Mango Vols” and elected representatives in Sacramento.