The election of 2008 was the slaughter of the highest order. A large part of the Republican base in Contra Costa and America voted for Obama because they were tired of the disastrous Bush administration and the stupidity of elected republicans and their party leaders. In Contra Costa County the slaughter continued down ballot as well. In congressional District 11 the hapless Dean Andal campaign which had the smell of Washington Republicans and leftovers from old Bill Baker campaigns was crushed by Jerry McNerney by thirteen points. And Mayor Abram Wilson of San Ramon gave a valiant effort but lost narrowly to Joan Buchanan.
Now we must survey the ruins that are the Republican Party. The wilderness years are now upon us. For years now I have written that we have been heading off of a cliff. Yet nobody seemed to be listening. Our local and statewide Republican leaders just wax on about Reagan or the crucible of the discussion. I have been receiving email tombs lately from Tom Del Baccaro vice chair of the California state Republican Party about liberty and Thomas Jefferson. To me this just shows how Republicans are not living in the 21st century. It sounds like they want to look back to the 18th. If you have ever attended a local Republican event you are struck by the fact that the Contra Costa GOP is not interested in winning so much as they are in keeping the Contra Costa GOP a safe place for conservatives to play out their ideological fantasies. Yes they did make tens of thousands of phone calls for Republican candidates this year and that was all well and good but the bottom line is Republican registration is in decline and we continue to lose partisan elections. The final blow came on November 4th when the so called “conservative district” fell to the Democrats. State Assembly District 15 lies in ashes as Joan Buchanan has vanquished the legacy of Baker-Leach conservatism. Even if proposition 11 brings relief and hope of a more competitive district it will be four long years before that happens.
The Republican Party needs to spend these wilderness years reevaluating its message and its leaders. Maybe we can start locally with the Contra Costa Republican party whose stock is currently on par with General Motors. Why don’t we elect a new leader in 2009. The current leader Greg Poulos is not going to get it done. He did not even get elected the last time the central committee had an election. We need a leader who will raise money and bring new people into the mix.
On a state level we should focus on a creating new message. The quaint emails coming from state party leaders about the founding fathers and liberty help them maintain their conservative support but do not connect with the growing parts of the electorate the GOP needs to attract, young people and Hispanics. What the Republican Party needs a makeover and an appealing message. We need to throw out the old leadership and start talking about opportunity. Unlike 1992 we are facing a much stronger and unified Democratic Party. The wilderness years will be long and hard but from the darkest hour where we sit today there is always the opportunity to change and reform and become an appealing party again to the American people.