Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Washington Township Blogger Panel - The Future of the Republican Party

Tonight I am participating in a blogger panel at the Washington Township GOP Club meeting. The other panelists are Gary Welsh of "Advance Indiana," Sean Shepard of "Shepard on Politics and Policy," and Josh Gillespie of "Hoosier Access."

Liz Karlson, President of the Washington Township GOP Club, is to be commended for putting on the event. Having attended hundreds of these GOP club township meetings, it's nice to see a club president try to provide an informative program where alternative ideas can be discussed. In the past GOP club meetings have too often become nothing more than pep rallies for the troops. As a Republican activist and former township GOP club president myself, I know that the people attending these meetings want to discuss ideas and even debate those ideas.

While some might oppose the inclusion of Shepard, a libertarian who ran for Congress in 2008, the fact is the local Republican Party would be wise to listen to the Libertarians. Some of the brightest minds and most committed individuals are in the Libertarian Party. Although the Libertarians have never been able to garner more than a single digit when it comes to percent of the vote in Marion County, the fact is that that single digit could be the difference between victory and defeat. Many of the Libertarian ideas of limited government, low taxes, etc., fit well with Republican ideology. Unfortunately, Republicans too often don't live up to these principles they often campaign on. For example, see Mayor Ballard's strong and relentless support for tax increases to bail out the Capital Improvement Board.

If this blogger panel is about anything, it needs about the willingness for the party to be more open to discussing alternative ideas and debating the issues. That has not been the history of the Marion County Republican Party. Exhibit A is the fact that even though the CIB bailout and possible tax increases has been on the front page of the paper for months, not a single Republican council member has felt secure enough to publicly address the problems with the CIB. I have talked to several council members who fear retaliation if they speak their mind on this and other city business. That shouldn't be the case.

The last baseline mayoral election the Republicans won was in 1995 when Steve Goldsmith was re-elected. The difference between 1995 and 2009 are substantial. In 1995, the Republicans had approximately a 55% base line vote in the county. Today, the baseline is about 44% and the low profile county-wide races of 2008 would suggest it could be as low as 40%.

My limited math skills tell me that Republicans cannot win a majority in Marion County by starting at 44% and subtracting. It just can't be done. Yet that is exactly the strategy that is being pursued. For the Marion County Republican Party to operate as if this were the 1990s, employing the same 1990s people with the same 1990s strategy, is fool-hardy. The numbers simply aren't there.

The rank and file of the Marion County Republican Party is open to new ideas. There is an untapped energy among county Republicans that that needs to be unleashed. Leadership needs to get over the notion that everyone in the party must walk in lockstep, or at least publicly appear to do so. Retaliation against elected officials or party workers for daring to speak their mind should not be tolerated. Yet it still goes on in 2009.

The times, they are a chagin.' It's time for the Republicans to adopt to the new political landscape or find themselves permanently a minority party in Marion County.


Unknown said...

No Frugal Hoosier?

Patriot Paul said...

There are 2 issues: the Rep.Party's future nationally and the one statewide and locally. The bad perception as the 'no' party needs more than a cosmetic change. Among the messages from the Tea parties is that both parties have corrupted themselves into one big indistinguishable party mess. Locally, as long as the city council legalizes its corruption by its codification of $1,000.00 per person per vote in perceived conflicts of interest, and the state legislature continues to insulate itself from citizens' voices (ie. taking away the school referendum it established this past November), then the politics of self-serving protectionism will trump anything. The Indianapolis Star constantly points out that standing in the way of political reform is political will. There you have it.

M Theory said...

Patriot Paul...sorry, but the message from the tea parties is a lie coming right from the inside of the Repubublican party and hell bent on alienating people like Libertarians with a great deal of activist experience.

M Theory said...

While, I am not a Republican party member, I did get an invite via Facebook and will attend this GOP Club meeting tonight.

Paul is right on everything he says here.

The R's in a world of hurt if they think they are going to win another mayoral election in this city without a candidate that can enact massive reform.

Ballard is not that guy.

Diana Vice said...

Happy Birthday, Paul! You're almost as old as I am. : )