This election should be a gigantic wake up call for all of us. The ugly truth, in my opinion, is that we got complacent and lazy and it was assumed that the rank and file would always be there, no matter who the candidates were.
The Republican party has always been the party of less government interference, strong national defense, free market systems, and fundamental faith in our country and ourselves. I don’t think we have done a great job in adhering to these principles.
Do I think we are doomed? Do I think it is over? Not by a long shot. In fact, I think that our recent losses could be exactly what we need to look introspectively and decide exactly who we are and what we stand for and if we are going to follow through on those beliefs.
It is now time for us to regroup and rebuild.
First, I urge the party to outreach to all of its members. You committee chairmen have lists of those who are members, have been members and have attended your meetings. Most of you have access to information on those who voted in Republican primaries (or registered Republican), and/or political organizations to which they belong. Send an outreach letter asking them to help in the rebuilding process. Tell them their ideas are valuable and are needed. Allow the rank and file to take ownership of the party and their committees. And when the rank and file speak, LISTEN.
Too often, the committee level leadership follows its own agenda and has almost a secret handshake society. Take stock of your members, find their strengths and utilize those strengths. If you have someone interested in computers, find a way to use their skills. If you have a maven, use them to find others. If you have a fundraiser type, kiss the ground they walk on.
I have a classic example of how we fail to identify the strengths of our members. I attended a Republican women’s leadership course here in Virginia and there was a young, dynamic woman in the course with me. A second year law student, bright, articulate, energetic and extremely gifted at speech writing and analysis. We had a campaign manager come in to give a seminar on campaigns and the young woman asked how she could get involved. The canned answer was “we can always use someone to make calls”. I realize that there is that need but I see many times where talent is cast aside for failing to simply take a moment to find out where a volunteer talents lay and how those could be best utilized.
When your committee is rebuilding, look for ways to bring the committee to the attention of your communities. Send newly registered voters in the area a welcome letter thanking them for registering and give them information on their elected officials, important government numbers and websites and do an outreach to those new voters inviting them to join. Give specifics on when the meetings are held and where. Don’t wait for them to find you.
Think about ways to enhance your visibility with the community with good works. Many units have Young Republican clubs in the high schools and most of those young members will attend college. Brainstorm ideas for scholarships through the committee (if eligible) or the Republican Women’s Club or PACs and follow through on those.
Engage in community service outreach such as a food or toy drive, tackle literacy issues in your area to show that we are part of the community and the party is actively enhancing our own home areas.
We have spent too much time being reactive, it is now time to get busy and get proactive.