Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Republican party, heal thyself

In spite of a good game face, the GOP faces some rough sledding on the way to November 2008. Some are already looking beyond this year's elections to some long-term rehab for the Republican party. An interesting article on this subject recently appeared on Politico, "Six ways the GOP can save itself," by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen. While it focuses on the national GOP, it contains some critical lessons for the Minnesota GOP as well.

1. Draft a contract with Minnesota. The standing platform of the MN GOP states principles, but has no accountability. The Taxpayers League of Minnesota's "no new taxes" pledge drew a line in the sand between fiscal liberals and conservatives, and gave the governor and legislators some backbone and a fiscal conscience for the tough choices during the legislative session. Today, Minnesota voters and activists need a broader statement of principles, modeled on Newt Gingrich's Contract With America, to identify the leaders of a conservative revival in Minnesota. If you won't sign the contract, OK, then we won't be signing any checks to your campaign. After the elections, the contract would be a compass constantly pointing legislators and the governor to true-north conservatism.

2. Fix the house. The Republican Party of Minnesota's voter and volunteer data bases are broken and so outdated that some candidates opt to create their own from scratch. As the Politico article says, "Influential Republicans feel the party must fortify intellectual think tanks, establish new activist groups and get a clue about using the Internet to rally its forces. The GOP also needs to fund programs to train young Republican candidates and activists." Some of this work has begun, but much work remains.

3. Find some fresh faces. Governor Tim Pawlenty was quoted in the Politico article, "We have to do a better job of recruiting women candidates, candidates of color and diversity." I think that we should judge people by content of their character, not by the color of their chromosomes, but the party actually has done a pretty good job finding and electing top-quality female candidates: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau, Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, State Auditor Pat Anderson, Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, and many incumbent state senators and representatives like Sen. Michelle Fischbach, Sen. Gen Olson, Sen. Julianne Ortman, Rep. Laura Brod, Rep. Sarah Anderson, Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, and candidates like Barb Davis White and former Plymouth mayor Judy Johnson, and would-be gubernatorial endorsee Sue Jeffers. Identity politics aside, a more ethnically diverse slate of candidates would help to attract the attention of voters in traditionally strong-DFL constituencies.


Brent said...

The Republican Party of Minnesota's voter and volunteer data bases are broken and so outdated that some candidates opt to create their own from scratch.

Honestly, how do you update these and keep them current? Where do updates come from and why does the MNGOP refuse to keep their databases up to date? Is there a up-to-date "Voters and Volunteers" subscription program that the MNGOP refuses to buy?

xenophon1 said...

"Find some fresh faces."

Right On! Let's run those "RINOs" (McCain, Coleman, etc.) back to Africa!!

Theres's plenty of new Ron Paul supporters on board. Here's a couple:



Rich G. said...

Seems dangerous to list Michele Bachmann in the "top quality female candidates" category. Her main claim to fame is a bizarre campaign against CFLs and a nigh-incoherent rant about Iran's plans in Iraq.

The Defenestrator

www.felixforhouse.com said...

2008 is looking grim for the GOP in MN and on the National front. We need to build our GOP base by supporting Rural and Urban Republicans... there is an especially large gap between Urban Republicans and Suburban Republicans over key issues such as the Marriage Protection Amendment and Preemptive War. We must support rural and urban candidates.

The GOP fundraising machine is broken, and Party unity is not possible under current party leadership… A few candidates have already started to work together to by-pass the broken state apparatus, like www.mnforlibery.com

Scholar said...

Brent: If it were only as easy as buying a data base. They are built one record at a time by party or candidate staff and/or volunteers. Current best practice is to get feet on the street, house-to-house with PDAs gathering micromarketing data, the better to target for example the "married, college grad, fiscal conservative hunter or fisherman with one or more children under 18 years old."

Brent said...

Matt, that's exactly my point. When you say that candidates are starting from scratch, (I take that figuratively), isn't that what they are supposed to be doing? The MNGOP has the infrastructure, but not the data, because the data doesn't 'exist.' The candidates and their volunteers have to bring that data up to a current point. So, I'm not exactly sure what your point #2 is getting at

Rich G. said...

I don't really buy that the fundraising machine is broken -- unless the MN GOP has been unable to take notes from the national party. Despite the dire national picture for the GOP, the coffers are far more flush than the Democrat competition. If the MN GOP can't take advantage of that trend, maybe we should be asking ourselves if we want them in charge of a state budget?

The Defenestrator

Scholar said...

Brent, yes, grassroots volunteers bear some responsibility for collecting and keeping the data current, and MNGOP claims high overall accuracy for their data base (Voter Vault), but every year I hear the same complaints about VV from the campaigns. My point #2 also mentions the need for visible outreach to sympathetic groups and making better use of technology. By saying "the GOP should do this or that," I don't mean to put the entire onus for this on paid staff at MNGOP. Grassroots volunteers are also "the GOP" and very much needed to make it all work.

Dan said...

"Her main claim to fame is a bizarre campaign against CFLs and a nigh-incoherent rant about Iran's plans in Iraq."

There is nothing bizarre about Bachmann's "campaign against CFLs" if you are informed enough to understand that incandescent lights have been banned! That's the bizarre situation. Edison's lightbulb has been banned, forcing consumers to buy the more expensive, potentially hazardous CFLs.

Bachmann is trying to undo the ban on Edison's light before it kicks in in 2012. Evidently, it will catch a few people by surprise (no doubt by design - those responsible will mostly be long gone by then).

Rich G. said...

Actually, saying it's a ban on incandescents is rather disingenuous. The bill establishes energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs. If bulb manufacturers can sufficiently advance incandescents, we'll still have them available. I'm relatively certain Edison would happily conduct another 10,000 trials in an attempt to reach the energy efficiency threshold called for in the bill rather than whining about it. His place in American history is secure even if we move away from the technology he pioneered.

And as for your "potentially toxic" concerns -- the sushi people eat and the salmon we grill in our backyards has more mercury than a CFL bulb does. And if you wander over to Walmart or Home Depot for a new one after the old bulb burns out after three years, you can recycle it safely there.

I know, I know, we fear change and all that.

The Defenestrator