[Source: California Republican Party News]
by CRP Chairman Ron Nehring (in Fox & Hounds)
A wave is building in American politics. Whether that wave produces a second Republican Revolution, or a more mild course correction for the nation–s politics, remains to be seen. In any case, victory for the GOP in November hinges on the Republican Party–s success in convincing the American people it is a viable, preferred alternative to the leadership and direction offered by Barack Obama–s Democratic Party.
History is clearly on the side of the GOP. In the last 12 mid-term elections, the party not holding the White House has enjoyed a net gain in Congress and state legislatures in 10 of them. The magnitude of the net gain has historically been in inverse proportion to the President–s approval rating, and President Obama–s is in the tank and likely to remain there. Historically Presidents enjoy little improvement in their public approval during the second year of their term.
How best to maximize the party–s opportunity for victory and build on the party–s recent successes in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts was a major focus of last week–s meeting of the Republican National Committee in Hawaii.
One proposal to demonstrate the party–s commitment to conservative issue positions would eliminate RNC funding for any candidate who did not score 80% on a 10-point ideological litmus test. The proposal was largely symbolic, since most candidate funding in America is generated through individual donations, not support from the national committee. State GOP leaders found the proposal unworkable, and voted unanimously to oppose it. Ultimately, it was withdrawn.
Yet the debate reminded everyone of the reality that candidates are not hand-picked by officials in Washington, but instead are elected in party primaries that are just now getting underway. Unlike Europe–s parliamentary systems, in America, it is the rank and file voters who choose the candidates, not party elites.
While high school textbooks tell us that political parties use platforms to communicate their principles, the reality is that any political party is ultimately defined by its candidates. Every day, candidate statements on issues and votes on important legislation are transmitted to millions of potential voters by the news media and in the blogosphere. By contrast, party platforms are rarely read once adopted.
Just who Republicans nominate in primary elections over the next few months will directly impact the party–s ability to win in November, and govern thereafter.
Put another way, the direction a new, Republican Congress would take will be determined not just by which party wins the majority of seats in November–s general election, but by which candidates voters choose to carry the party–s banner in the primary elections that will take place months before.
Republicans must choose nominees who will prove formidable against their Democrat opponents in the Fall campaign, while also selecting candidates who, once elected, will put Republican ideas into action.
Of course, Democrats also get a vote in how this year–s campaign progresses. The President–s approval rating has tanked as his party took its eye off the economy and instead pursued an unpopular legislative agenda. Yet, in the wake of the GOP victory in Massachusetts, we have seen no sign the White House or the Democratic leaders in Congress plan to choose a governing agenda other than the unpopular one they have pursued so far, marked by stimulus, cap and trade, and health care bills that have proven to be losers with voters, particularly independents.
Finally, it is worth noting that Republican leaders understand that voters expect our elected officials to put Republican policies into action once elected, not merely become moderate Democrats in practice. Today–s Republican leadership believes this, and as a result on issue after issue we have seen Republicans offer constructive alternatives to the Democrats– liberal proposals, both when the President–s approval was sky high, and today.
The Republican Party is ready to work hard to elect the candidates who are chosen to carry the Republican banner to Washington and Sacramento. Voters should choose wisely. The future of our party, and our nation, depends on it.