Monday, March 29, 2010

The Marion County GOP Youth Movement? Sorry I'm Not Buying It

Today Francesca Jarosz of the Indianapolis Star reports on the supposed youth movement going on inside the Marion County GOP organization and in particular the Indianapolis City-County Council. The article reads in part:
Local Republicans are hoping the fresh faces -- with their new ideas and ability to relate to typically disengaged younger voters -- can help keep the party competitive in a county that has trended Democratic.

The selection of Angel Rivera, 28, and Aaron Freeman, 32, to fill the council seats vacated in the past two months by middle-aged men is just one piece of evidence that the push for youth in the local GOP is bearing fruit.

Earlier this year, Republican Ryan Vaughn became the council's youngest president at 32. The median age of Republicans on the council is 50 -- three years younger than the median age for council Democrats.

Examples also abound outside the council. Carlos May, 30, is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, 35, for the 7th District seat. Wes Robinson, 23, is running for a spot in the Indiana House of Representatives. And all members of the local Republican Party's staff, as well is most of Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's campaign staff, are younger than 35.

"We realize that things are changing," said Rivera, one of the new councilmen. "Our institutions need to be forward-thinking, forward-looking and ahead of the game. A lot of that is equated with youth."
To read the rest of the article click here.

Youth movement in the Marion County GOP organization? I am so not persuaded.

It is not that there are not young, energetic Republicans in this county. Indeed they are all over the place. They just aren't attracted to organizational Marion County GOP politics or get quickly turned off if they do become involved. I remember last year running into "Nicole" the former head of the Wayne Township Young Republicans at a dental office where she works. She was in the early to mid 1990s an up and coming coming Republican. Attractive, intelligent and energetic, she was the epitome of the type of person the party should have coveted and retained, especially Wayne Township which had a dearth of youth. Nicole had reenergized the Wayne Township Republicans as well as playing a role in the Marion County Young Republicans which also was an active, energetic group in the 1990s.

Today, Nicole, like virtually every Young Republican I was involved with in the 1980s and 1990s is out of Marion County GOP organizational politics. Nicole told me the party didn't want her. It's a refrain I have heard a 1000 times before.

On the same day I saw Nicole, I met an early 20s woman who worked in the same dental office where I saw Nicole. She too, along with her boyfriend, was interested in becoming involved in local Republican politics. She began talking about how important conservative politics was to her and how she wanted to be involved. She had no idea what I knew - that the local GOP party leadership does not care one whit about conservative politics. They care about using the party machinery to assert influence and make money. I knew that if I turned her name in to become an organizational Republican, she would be chewed up and spit out a few years later, totally disillusioned on local politics. I instead gave her the name of two candidates who I felt could better utilize her energy and talents without turning her off from politics.

As far as the young members of Ballard's staff, again I am again so not impressed. The real decision-makers in the Ballard administration - people like Joe Loftus, Bob Grand and John Cochran - are leftovers from the Goldsmith administration. They purposefully staffed the Ballard administration with young, inexperienced people they know they could manipulate a lot easier than people who are older with experience. It is the same with young members of the Council. Even Council President Ryan Vaughn is little more than a water carrier for his true bosses, Loftus and Grand, who are responsible for Vaughn's paycheck six figure paycheck as a Barnes & Thornburg attorney and lobbyist. An older, more experienced Council President would likely show an independence from Loftus, Grand and even Mayor Ballard, an independence you certain are not going to see from the young and inexperienced Ryan Vaughn.

I will be more impressed by the Marion County GOP organization when those Young Republicans of today become the future leaders of tomorrow. I will be convinced of the Marion County GOP youth movement truly exists when my party stops booting out young Republicans who have independent minds or who want to talk about the issues that motivate them to become Republicans.

A youth movement in the Marion County GOP? No, I'm not buying it.

1 comment:

jane said...

Yes-and it's so much better to hang out in bars and showclubs, and get arrested for driving drunk, as opposed to socializing in country clubs.

Youth and energy are welcome and valuable when partnered with those offering wisdom, experience and maturity.