Friday, June 01, 2007

If it's not the chairman himself, I don't want to talk to 'em

Today the Washington Times is reporting the Republican National Committee is seeing a donor fall-off. Rumor has it the grass-roots are disappointed with the President's immigration policy. When solicitors call for donations, instead of getting checks for $10, $20, or $50 they're getting an earful--and none of it is what they want to hear.

Lately, I admit to be among the people hanging-up on republican fund raisers, calling me with an important (recorded) message from Newt Gingrich or sometimes even the president himself. If Gingrich, chairman Mike Duncan (national party chairman), Saul Anuzis (Michigan party chairman) or even the president want to talk to me they can call me at home themselves.

The only time I hear from these guys is when they want money. When they ask for money it's so the party can defeat the evil Speaker Pelosi or to defend itself against the fund raising powerhouses of Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama. It's always so we can do battle with democrats in general or specifically by name.

In my head, the party has become less about politics than it has fund raising. It's in constant fund raising mode. I even get calls for races in other states. Every arm of the party wants to make sure it has enough money to beat the democrats.

I want to know if they have enough ideas.

Instead of calling people and asking for money they should be calling folks asking for clues. They seem to have forgotten what drew us to the party in the first place. Republican leadership seems to have become less about fiscal responsibility and smaller government than about beating Hillary Clinton. Why doesn't Mike Duncan just change the party's name to the Anti Hillary Foundation--doing business as the Republican Party? At least their corporate name would reflect their corporate mission.

Like any good company, political parties need salesmen, but they also need a product. Exactly what is the Republican Party product these days? The party of Lincoln used to sell social conservatism, fiscal responsibility, a strong military, strong borders, federalism, states rights, lower taxes, and constructionist judges.

Michigan's most recent gubernatorial election wasn't about product (billionaire Dick DeVos) as much as it was an anti Granholm campaign. The party didn't help DeVos articulate his ideas to citizens and DeVos couldn't debate a governor who had overseen swelling state deficits and a crashing economy rivaled only by two other states devastated by hurricanes. That's about as easy as it gets.

Two big things, I think, sabotaged DeVos' campaign--his refusal to back Michigan's Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) and the lack of any primary competition. When a billionaire announces his candidacy it basically eliminates the competition (unless they're also billionaires). In a party focused on sales more than ideas it mattered little what great ideas other candidates may have had. As a result DeVos went head-to-head with a beauty queen (Granholm) before he proved he could go head-to-head with a grandmother (Nancy Cassis).

As it turns out, billions in sales without a product can't beat a beauty-queen from Canada.

The MCRI passed because it was all about product.

If I could place a plaque on every State or National Republican officers desk similar to Bill Clinton's "It's the economy, stupid," it would say "It's the product, stupid."

And without a product, the Republican Party is looking kind of... well... let's just say lost.


  1. Right on Tom. Again, you are guilty of clear thinking. No wonder you're not Republican Party Chairman - you're a Conservative!!!

    But hang in there, sooner or later you, and I, and others, will bring the party together. This is sorely needed now.

  2. Are you still sitting in the boat?

  3. Sounds like a good subject for a future article...