Guest post by Karen Kwiatkowski, President of the Republican Women of Shenandoah County
I’m a liberty Republican, a constitutionalist. I supported Ron Paul and still do. I’m from “that” part of the Republican Party.
How many of you Republicans reading or hearing this now have already recoiled? Got an itchy uncomfortable feeling? Maybe are feeling a bit nervous, or even angry? I’m probably what you would see as an unwashed Republican, an angry Republican, someone who claims a purity of mission and theory, and one who looks down on what we have been calling “establishment” Republicans. Stand up if you think I’m wrong!
Problem #1. The majority of Republicans in Virginia don’t like Ron Paulers, constitutional conservatives, or liberty wingers. Some of this is geographical, but a lot of it has nothing to do with geography. It has to do with prejudice. We were always here, but we used to be a lot more passive, a lot less trouble. I get it!
Problem #2. Republicans are losing the vote. Our party brand in Virginia is not exciting voters – instead, it is angering them. When normal people are angry, they don’t become activists. That’s for us “1 percenters” the politically active, the standout party members. Most people, the vast majority who are angry, simply turn off. The Republican Party in Virginia has a happiness problem, and we’ve given the voters an anger problem, and they are turning away. It is a deafening silence of protest and we are not even listening.
Problem #3. The Republican leadership, with a few exceptions, is backward-looking. We are behaving like a kicked hound dog, rather than surging at our leash, excited and happy that a hunt is beginning. We got kicked because we had our head in the cat food bag. Let me make this as plain as I can. If Republican legislators and leaders take federal handouts, accrue unpayable debt, grow government by hiring more of everybody, they are eating the cat food. Private enterprise is where government needs to get out of the way, not involve itself in getting a piece of it. As a party, we are behaving like a kicked dog, because we knew we shouldn’t have done it. But we did, and now we want to justify the past. Yes, it tasted great. But cat food is for cats, and we ain’t cats.
Here’s what the RPV needs to know:
It doesn’t matter if we like each other. It’s OK. We don’t have to be friends to be allies. At every level, the RPV should be utilizing constituionalists, liberty wingers, fiscal conservatives and angry Republicans in some important way. Where can we help? We are pro gun and pro civil liberty. We are opposed to the security surveillance and police state. We are young, and we actually are NOT oriented toward being government bureaucrats. Yes we are difficult to control, but who cares. We are speaking the language of a lot of people who right now won’t vote, and won’t vote Republican. But they would if they knew the party cared about them, and was open to them as people, as citizens, and as neighbors.
Money doesn’t matter as much as the older party thinks it does. The underfunded Cuccinelli race, closing to within 3 points with a 6 point Libertarian in the race tells us that. But the establishment still thinks it does. Guess what? The future Republican Party is going to be poorer than it has been in the past forty years. I hate to be the one to point it out, but part of why we are the great unwashed in the party is because we tend to be working class and young, meaning by definition, under employed and struggling to make ends meet. We are too busy for stupidity, and we are upset that fat cats can’t hear our message. Especially cats that got fat eating the big government cat food. So if money doesn’t really matter, what does?
Local Republicans matter 10 times more than the state level candidate machines. Why ten times, and not just two times? Because local races matter, those votes actually count, and only those races can consistently turn out voters. And if the local Republican is good, or where the local Republican is running a popular conservative Independent, we bring in the votes for the rest of the ticket. It’s that simple. It isn’t about who the state party knows about, and how they voted last time. It isn’t about candidates lists and top down exhortations to get out the vote. It is who my neighbors, my friends, my coworkers, and my relatives are supporting in the local race. Because that’s who we really know, not some lying politician who keeps calling us on the phone and asking for money we don’t have. There is a lot of money to be made in managing campaigns, and lists, and organizing neighborhood walks, but the easiest thing for our party to do is to run outstanding local conservatives, and let those trusted people bring out our party’s vote. That’s how you rebuild a brand.
There you have it, RPV!
1) Get over your sense that we all have to love each other. We don’t and we never will. It’s OK.
2) Drop your obsession with money, because this country has changed. The rich in this country are more hated than ever, and the poor are the majority, even in the GOP. Money isn’t power unless you have only three TV channels. We’re watching Duck Dynasty and Elysium, and hating on the Wolf of Wall Street. Money doesn’t mean what it used to in our hearts and lives.
3) Finally, use what networks and influence you have to get conservatives elected as Republicans at the local level. Make sure popular and true (some may be social, and some may be libertarian) conservatives are backed by the Republican Party, not rejected by the old boys and girls at the top. Shenandoah County is a shining example of how that works, and what an epic fail it has been for the county GOP. We dumped two RINOs for two conservative constitutionalists. But that was only after the county party rejected them in a system that is true Tammany Hall in Virginia. If any of you read Barbara Comstock’s piece after the November election (and if you didn’t shame on you for sitting here uneducated), she gets it. The R in Republican should stand first and foremost for “Represent!”
I left out one other thing, but it kind of combines all of these. The RPV has an authenticity problem. It can’t be fixed from distant capitols telling us what to do, by money or by hating up a good portion of your party affiliates. We can do better, and I hope you’ll take to heart what I am observing from the trenches.