Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whose Republican party is it, anyway?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Sarah Anderson
  • Sarah Anderson

Sarah Anderson, the El Paso County Republican Party secretary, has created quite a stir, first by taking a public stand against SB 200, then by talking to the media at length about what she sees as the problems within the party, and what is the preferable direction for the party to take.

She says that the response to last week's Independent cover story, Anarchy in the GOP, has been mostly positive. Not only has she received plenty of encouragement from El Paso County Republicans, she says that she has been contacted by people in more than 20 states who say that they are facing the same struggles inside their local parties.

There has, however, been some blowback from older, established Republicans who are concerned that the party's dirty laundry is being aired in public. Plus, they are kinda scared of the libertarian hordes outside the castle walls — they look pretty surly.

Today, Anderson got a copy of emails that have been circulating among Republican elected officials and party leaders, of which the gist has been: What do we do about a problem like Sarah?

She has written a response, which you can read in full after the jump.

I wanted to respond to the letter sent out by {sender}, and the response by {an elected official}, which outlined the concerns some feel about current issues, and talked openly about the struggles of our party.

First and foremost, this IS the party of Reagan Republicans. This IS the party of Ron Paul Republicans. This IS the party of Mitt Romney Republicans and John McCain Republicans and Paul Ryan Republicans and Michelle Bachmann Republicans and Gary Johnson Republicans and Amy Stephen Republicans and Dave Schultheis Republicans and Shawn Mitchell Republicans. That’s the beauty of our “big tent” party—we can all agree on core issue (limited government, lower taxes, free markets and personal responsibility) and hash the rest out.

The problem is, it seems like our party no longer knows how to win. This is largely in part to the Party infrastructure continuing to campaign like it’s 1980. It’s no longer 1980. Instead of adapting to changing campaign times, the party establishment continues to campaign with the same old tired campaign strategies. Where has it gotten us? We have two Democratic Senators from Colorado, another Democrat Governor, a Democrat majority in the State Senate, and a slim Democrat minority in the State House. We were able to fight back some in the last election and change it from five Democrats in our Congressional delegation to three. I have little faith that will last if we keep this up.

This party HAS to grow in order to win. The “Republican” base is shrinking, and we have to win independents, libertarians, and yes—some Democrats. This can be done without compromise, but only if and when we stand for what this party is supposed to believe in. We must once again become the party of limited government, lower taxes, free markets and personal responsibility—but more than that, we must say it and MEAN it. There is a trust deficit—the American public, and even large parts of our own party, no longer believe we mean what we say and say what we mean. This has to change if we are to win future elections.

Your assertions that the “silent majority” supports power over principle may or may not be accurate. The overwhelming response from all over the city, county, state and country has been quite the opposite. Why do you think the Tea Party started and grew so rapidly? It’s because Americans, and many voting Republicans, are tired of the government intrusions into their lives that both the elected Democrats and Republicans support. We would easily win 60% or more of the vote if we capitalize on that momentum. Sadly, we’re not. The party will continue to decline because the same people keep doing the same things. Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Continuing to ignore the clear example of the past has created a losing environment for our Party. We must change it, as this Party seems to be doing an awful lot of both ignoring history and expecting different results from the same actions.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There is hope. This hope lies in change—good change—not the corrupted “hope” (hype) and “change” (government take-over) that our sitting President is trying to bring about. This good kind of change is one that reaches out to new people—who stand solidly with us on our limited government, lower taxes, free market and personal responsibility principles—people who will actually elect Republicans. This good kind of change is one that adapts our campaigning to the 21st century. This good kind of change is one that recognizes wisdom and experience but encourages innovation, inclusion and constructive dialogue—yes, we still have the same ideals and principles, but we can’t use the messaging of yesteryear, because it doesn’t seem to resonate in the same way. There should not be compromise, but we can and should change the way we talk about issues now.

As for taking this public, it starts with why the Republican Party is different from the Democrat Party. You don’t see this kind of infighting in the Democrat Party because they simply don’t allow for difference of opinion. The Republican Party is about coming together on core beliefs and letting the rest be sorted out through vigorous debate and, yes, sometimes ‘infighting’. These growing pains only strengthen the party—iron sharpening iron. The idea that this is a bad thing is proof we must have this discussion, and have it now before 2012. If this Party continues on the same path, Barack Obama will win a second term. This country simply cannot afford another 4 years of a President Obama.

There are some in this party that see stifling dissention and debate at all costs as something the Republican Party should engage in. Intimidation and fear are not the tactics of the Republican Party. We are better than that.

Here is the question you must ask yourself: Is the Republican Party going to stand on its foundational principles (limited government, lower taxes, free markets and personal responsibility) and fight for them; or will it allow power, insulation and protection of elected officials who no longer seem to remember those principles, and corruption of principle to rule?

This is a battle for our nation. This battle is about and for the heart and soul of our Party… and whether or not it should be sacrificed on the altar of “power”.

The Republican office in El Paso County hasn’t been stagnant. I ran on several issues to become Secretary.

One of them was to get more volunteers in. We have a solid group of volunteers in this office every week, and I would go so far as to say probably one of the larger groups we’ve ever had in a non-election year.

Another was to significantly increase the interaction with Precinct Leaders, to help them do their job in the best way possible. A calling committee started this last Monday, and will be speaking with every sitting Precinct Leader and helping to recruit new leaders for the over 100 vacancies we have. Training will begin this fall for Precinct Leaders and continue after the Caucuses.

Finally, one of my goals was to change the way this party speaks to non-Republicans—be they Independents, Democrats, Green Party, Libertarian Party, American Constitution Party or non-registered voters. There will be issues conferences this fall with many big names in Colorado Republican politics, think-tank fellows and average Republican voters coming together to discuss issues, the Republican platform, and how to take our platform out there into the larger voting population. There are so many issues Republicans will win on if we just talk about them a little differently… if we learn to know our audience.

Caucus preparations are underway. With the change in Primary date, thanks to Senate Bill 11-189 (moving the Primary to the last Tuesday in June, in 2012 this will be 26 June), the timeline for Caucus and Assembly has changed a little as well. The Caucus date will be 6 March and the State Assembly will be 14 April. We likely will not have a finalized reapportionment map until December (the “official” map will come out on 7 October, with changes to be made afterwards). If you would like to get involved in the reapportionment process, contact me and I’ll let you know how. The commission is still meeting and just earlier this week passed the El Paso County map—which I am sure will surprise you if you look at it. We won’t have finalized Districts until December or new Divisions drawn until then, so we can’t finish our caucus plans until after those things occur. However, we are starting the process now and are setting up as many things as we can in advance so that it’s not a big rush once we have finalized Districts and Divisions.

Should you have any further questions, comments or concerns, please direct them to me. I’m happy to answer. My email and phone number are below.

For Victory in 2012

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