MD GOP – It’s Time for the Revolution (Part II)
In an earlier post I called for a revolution in the Maryland Republican Party. No, it doesn’t have to start today, although we should start planning for it. November 5th will be fine with me.
We’ve already discussed bold strokes. If Republicans wish to cease being second class citizens in the not so Free State, we need to give Marylanders a reason to vote on the GOP line. Offering up “Democrat-light” ain’t it.
Look at our two most recent statewide electoral “successes”. In 1994 Ellen Sauerbrey ran as a conservative and nearly won the Governor’s Mansion. In 2002, a moderate GOP congressman named Bob Ehrlich ran for governor – as a conservative – and won.
Sure, I know “almost” doesn’t count and that Ehrlich lost in 2006. However, conservative candidates lead to conservative grassroots activism. THAT, along with true conservative leaders and candidates, is what leads to consistent electoral success. You need to have all three. In Virginia there were several cycles where we possessed an army of grassroots activists and strong leaders. Unfortunately, we didn’t have strong candidates. There were cycles when we had candidates like Mills Godwin, John Dalton, George Allen and Jim Gilmore. We were electorally successful. We also had cycles where we had good conservative candidates, but they just weren’t “conservative enough” for certain segments of the grassroots. The all too common internecine wars cost us some elections.
Now before anybody starts questioning my motives, one thing that I DO NOT advocate is any Stalinist purge of moderates and liberals from the GOP. What I do advocate is a restructuring of the MD GOP to allow for more grassroots participation. More participation within the party structure will lead to more participation across the board. As more people become involved, more leaders AND candidates will emerge over time.
These things require a long term outlook. You can’t decide in 2010, that X is going to run for statewide office. We need to start recruiting solid conservative candidates years in advance; for every office from town council to Governor. Simply filling the Republican line with names, 50%+ who can’t win is not a viable strategy for victory.
One way to motivate future leaders, and even candidates, is from within the party. Unfortunately, the current structure more closely resembles a government bureaucracy than a political movement.
I like mass meetings (caucuses) and conventions for nominating candidates. Primaries, which appear democratic, usually become little more than a money race – money that could be better spent in the general election. Mass meetings and conventions get people involved. They get people excited. They particularly involve and excite the people who will be out knocking on doors and making phone calls – the people who win elections.
I’ve participated in three Republican National Conventions, but the largest political convention in our history was the 1994 Republican Party of Virginia convention that nominated Oliver North. Imagine, a state convention that was larger than any national convention held before (and I believe since). Imagine 10,000+ people motivated to go out and work for GOP candidates.
Perhaps there is something in Maryland state law that prohibits nominating candidates by mass meeting / convention. Even if it is, that shouldn’t preclude the MD GOP from using mass meetings and conventions to bring together local GOP activists for the purpose of electing party offices.
STATE CENTRAL COMMITTEE –
Currently we elect seven Republicans from each county to serve on that county’s GOP central committee and to be members of the GOP State Central Committee. While this arrangement may seem fair, there are numerous flaws with this system.
First, when the state central committee meets (in their version of a state convention), voting rights are based on population. That means that the seven members from counties like PG County or Montgomery County receive more votes than smaller counties that actually elect Republicans to office. While there may be some valid reasons for keeping elected county central committees, there certainly isn’t a good reason for keeping the GOP state central committee under its current structure. It’s too large and unwieldy for starters.
An alternative – select state central committee members by congressional district. As an example – elect three (or four) members from each district at a district convention during the presidential election year. IF that district votes for the GOP candidate for President, they are awarded another seat. IF that district is represented by a Republican in Congress, they are awarded another seat. You could even add some premium for state legislators. The District Chairman would also get a seat. You can also add seats for state officers, national committee members, etc. The point is to reward areas of the state that elect Republicans to office. It helps to give an incentive to those areas don’t.
I admit that I don’t know any committee members from Baltimore, PG or MoCo. I am certainly not casting dispersions on people I’ve never even met. However, it is easy to imagine how these areas can dominate a party central committee, yet be the most ineffective (certainly the most unsuccessful) group in the state.
The bottom line is that you want to provide as many opportunities as possible for local activists to get involved in the party AND be rewarded for their service. Believe it or not, this adds motivation to keep working – and working hard. It also provides opportunities for local activists to stretch out beyond the confines of their own club, or county. This is one way to learn new things.
Nothing irritates me more than hearing, “Well that’s the way we’ve always done it.” That may be, but when was the last time you sent a new Republican to Annapolis or Washington? In too many counties the question would apply to their own county seat as well.
Let’s face it. An election every two years and a Lincoln Day dinner just isn’t enough to keep your core group of activists sharp, and involved. We need more if we ever want to see Maryland become the Free State once again.