By Scott Tibbs, May 9, 2008
What was expected to be a caucus that would see the election of a new Monroe County Republican Party chairman last week turned into a mess that saw the three remaining members of the Central Committee resign and the state Republican Party cancel the caucus. The turmoil engulfing the GOP will likely continue into the summer and will be a distraction for the candidates. So where do we go from here, as a party?
First, someone has to stand up to the people who are dividing and destroying this party with petty bickering, backbiting, personal vendettas, malicious personal gossip and backstabbing. There are a few bitter old hags in the party who have little else in their empty lives but to personally attack those they disagree with. Those people need to be told they need to either stop their despicable behavior or they are no longer welcome in the party. If it is possible to strip some of these people of precinct committeeman positions, that should also be done.
Once the bitter old hags are purged or silenced, the GOP will need to find a way to fold diverse interests into a formidable unit. The first step should be to stop worrying about "party unity". As much as some people may not like it, the reality is that you cannot have a big tent and a unified party. It is one or the other. If the MC-GOP is going to have a big tent with people from several ideological perspectives, there are going to be intra-party disagreements.
Demanding that all Republicans support all candidates on the ballot is an unrealistic and unachievable goal. Some liberal Republicans may not be find of a conservative candidate, while some conservatives are unwilling to support a more liberal candidate. Instead of trying to create a Borg hive, the Republican Party needs to recognize reality and encourage Republicans to support and volunteer for the candidates of their choice. Instead of wringing hands that a conservative activist will not support a more Left-leaning candidate, find out which candidate that conservative does support and get him (or her) involved with that campaign.
If Republicans hope to win this November, we cannot continue to allow the Democrats to dominate the debate on national issues. Whoever the Democrat Party's nominee is will win Monroe County, as will Baron Hill. What Republicans need to do is get the Republican message out on national issues to reduce the margin of loss on national campaigns, which will put local candidates within striking distance to win county races. In 2004 and 2006, Democrats were extremely energized on national issues and got their voters to the polls to vote straight ticket. If Republicans do not counter that in 2008, it is going to be another ugly year.
Ultimately, Republicans need to stop fighting about who the chairman is going to be and focus on individual campaigns and issues. I do not think it matters at all who the chairman is. His (or her) role should be to provide infrastructure such as phone banks and a place to store campaign materials, and nothing more. Make the election about candidates and issues, and encourage individual campaigns to stand on their own. Obviously, some coordination is good, but that should be up to the candidates themselves. It is also critical to get the College Republicans involved and plugged in to local races. CR's can be an invaluable resource for local Republicans.
The local GOP has had two tough elections. (I am not counting 2003 and 2007. The city is what it is.) It was only 6 years ago that Monroe County Republicans won three of four County Council races and came close to a clean sweep, in addition to knocking off an incumbent Democrat County Commissioner. Two years before that, Republicans won two of the three at-large County Council seats and came close to winning all three. There is no reason the party cannot rebound and be competitive in the 2008 November election.
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