Sure, the GOP must change, but …

Elephant orphanage - wikipediaDec. 26, 2012

By Steven Greenhut

Without fail, whenever Republicans lose elections, liberal commentators eagerly chime in with advice designed to “help” the GOP become more relevant and competitive. The advice is so common and predictable that it leaves me wondering whether the journalists who offer it simply regurgitate old columns saved on their computer. The latest dose of this comes from Thomas Elias, a liberal columnist who has been offering Californians the same liberal advice for many years.

Elias argues: “Calls for change by the Republican Party — especially its California branch — came from all sides in the days immediately following President Obama’s reelection last fall. But don’t expect that to go anywhere fast. For this is a party that values its core principles and predilections more than it does victory.” Pretending to be fair, he notes, “The GOP is now generally supportive of equal pay for women. But it has not changed much on anything else.”

He then quotes various Republicans who say they will not abandon their principles and concludes, “Expecting change, even though the GOP now has sunk below the 30 percent level among California registered voters, is as realistic as expecting a dog to quack.”

For starters, the line about equal pay for women is just a back-handed cheap shot designed to suggest that the GOP is a party of men who want to keep their women in subservience, whereas most Republicans simply opposed the discredited idea that the federal government should use the federal bureaucracy to enforce a equal-pay scheme that doesn’t account for issues such as, say, field of endeavor and the cost of leaving the workplace (i.e., women tend to take long breaks from their careers for child rearing). The goal isn’t to pick on Elias’ reasoning skills or to dwell, either, on his use of bad cliches (dogs quacking). Elias is simply the latest in a long line of writers offering advice to a party they loathe.

The bigger point: It’s always a bad idea to listen to people who hate you. Almost always, the advice-givers in these situations support gun bans, higher taxes, union give-aways, more regulations, etc.


On the surface, the Eliases of the world are arguing that losing parties need to abandon their principles so that they can win. Sure, parties need to adapt their messaging and change a little so that they can get into power, but folks who make this argument are betraying their cynical view of the world. Although I am not a Republican (I’m a Libertarian) and have a long published history of criticizing Republicans and many of their positions, I think it’s a compliment to say that “this is a party that values its core principles … more than it does victory.”

If the goal of politics is to win and given the voters anything they think they want, then what’s the point of the whole political battle? We can elect any ciphers to become elected officials. In fact, we often do. The Legislature and local councils and boards of supervisors are filled with unprincipled hacks who stick their finger in the wind and try to do whatever is popular with the special interest groups and public opinon polls.

Of course, these leftist writers never argue that Democrats should abandon their principles when they lose, which suggests that their stated argument isn’t for real. Elias quotes conservative Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz correctly calling for the GOP to do a better job reaching out to Latino voters, but he somehow doesn’t call for Texas Democrats to abandon their commitment to that party’s big-government principles in the wake of the Cruz victory.

The real argument from Elias and others who are hostile to the GOP’s generally stated philosophy is that there should be no organized opposition to the current program of the state’s Democratic Party.

There’s an entire cottage industry out there that blames the GOP for just about everything here in California. I agree that the Republican Party needs to change. In my coverage of it in Orange County and at the state level, I’ve seen a party run by second-rate politicians who already are doing what Elias suggests they ought to do: trying to give voters what they want rather than offer a detailed alternative vision of how the government ought to operate. When they take principled stands, they often do so on the wrong issues (i.e., social issues, immigration, law and order, etc.). When opportunity knocks — i.e., efforts to end property-rights-destroying redevelopment agencies — Republicans often pick the wrong side of the issue.

Sure the GOP needs to change, but it doesn’t need to abandon principled ideas. If the Republicans simply become like the Democrats, then the state will be in an even bigger mess because no one will be reminding legislators that there is an alternative to giving away the Treasury to the public-sector unions, increasing taxes and treating businesses like they are evil.

Libertarian case

In my view, the GOP needs to make a more consistent libertarian case and live up to its state principles by genuinely embracing a consistent philosophy of limited government. In a state that is as socially liberal as California, a more libertarian focus will help it package the sound fiscal ideas that remain at the foundation of the party’s belief system.

But let’s not forget the obvious point leftists would ignore: The Democratic Party has long been dominant in California. Democratic officials are far more culpable than Republicans for the state’s fiscal mess. The Democrats control every state constitutional office and have gained more than two-thirds majority control of both houses of the Legislature. The GOP has no real power base and even conservative bastions such as Orange County are tilting in a Democratic direction. The Democrats own the government.

Yet the state has consistently high deficits. The state’s tax and regulatory climate is a nightmare. Businesses are fleeing, poverty outside of the wealthy coastal enclaves is worsening. California no longer is the land of opportunity. Business owners wisely expand their operations in other states. A state that was once a land of opportunity where people came from all over the country and all over the world is now a place that people leave to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Is that the GOP’s fault? Partially so, perhaps, but come on.

Why don’t these columnists write about how the Democratic Party should change?

You know the answer.


Write a comment
  1. Hondo
    Hondo 26 December, 2012, 11:39

    I agree the republicans need to change. But the democrats have become Santa Claus, everyone gets a free toy, a chicken in every pot, a welfare check in every hand, and the republicans can’t get in a ‘Santa Claus’ race, becoming ‘Santa’ lite. The Republicans may give the ‘gift’ of amnesty(which I support for the illegals who were brought here a young kids) to illegals. But the democrats will just double down, promising toaster ovens, Obama phones, and $100,000 pensions for meter maids. It’s an arms race the republicans just can’t win.
    And the notion that we give up on ‘crime’ is insane. When your daughter gets raped and her arms cut off (which happened here in Kali). When you have democrat city attorney in San berdoo that says lock your doors and get your guns because they don’t have the money to pay police officers, I say the republicans have an issue on their side.
    The repubs certainly have to welcome more from the pro choice movement. The debacles in the Missouri and Indiana senate races were a kick in the nuts to the republicans. And gay should be welcome in the party. My cousin is a millionaire, is gay and lives a conservative life, outside of being gay. Gays I’ve known are profoundly anti crime, pro business, and don’t like taxes at all.
    The Republicans can’t be ‘Santa’ lite, but there are things they can do.

    Reply this comment
  2. Donkey
    Donkey 26 December, 2012, 13:25

    The Republicans have changed. When you look at what the Republicans have brought to the American people: The prescription drug boondoggle, the EPA, many phases of the war on drugs and with it a huge PIC that dwarfs every other nation in size and cost, and the cost is both social and monetary.

    Arnold was Grey Davis with an accent. Bush had no more monetary sense than Obama. The last four POTUS’s were all anti-freedom and promoted government power at every chance. Even the last POTUS that I felt was pro-American, Reagan, did things that increased to power of the police state.

    The only difference today between the Demonrats and the Repubrats is the amount of money they are willing to steal to fund public workers.

    Now there are Republicans like Ron Paul, and Tom McClintock that see and understand the limited role government is supposed to play in our lives, but they do not control the party or hold the power to make changes, but it is nice to see a few people with common sense remain in at least one of the big trditional parties. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  3. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 26 December, 2012, 13:51

    No matter how liberal the Republicans become, they still lose. I don’t recall Meg Whitman winning the governorship, or am I missing something? The goal of Elias and other leftists is to turn the GOP into an extension of the Democratic Party. Then even if they do win, it matters not. Consider Arnold Schwarzenegger. No matter how Left the GOP candidate, the Dems still trot out the “right wing extremist” attacks. Maybe McClintock and others like him can’t win statewide office here any more but at least they raise worthwhile arguments while losing.
    –Steven Greenhut

    Reply this comment
  4. RT
    RT 26 December, 2012, 15:29

    The GOP in California is a mess. They have gotten in their current mess the old-fashioned way, they earned it. Where is the GOP on issues? I have no idea. Who is the face of the GOP? I know they have one, but why are they not on TV, on the radio, and online spreading the message?
    The problem is that the GOP establishment that runs California’s GOP has no idea how to deal with the current political climate in California. They do not know how to compete against the takers and their allies. They continue to moan a little from time to time on a given issue but do little else other than fold up like a cheap lawn chair. The GOP in California needs a new framework that takes a clear stand on taxes and social programs.
    The good news for the GOP in California is that as things gets worse budget wise (and they will) they may become more popular. However, if they do not get their act together, and become a force, the GOP will become much like the Green or Liberation Party, that gets the support of a few loyalists but has no ability to effect change.

    Reply this comment
  5. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 26 December, 2012, 17:08


    I agree with what you say about the lack of message and lack of recognizable faces.

    But it’s almost a chicken or egg question….Is California a mess because the state’s feckless GOP, or is the California GOP a feckless mess because of moronic Californians?

    You would have to travel far and wide to find a place with a greater number of Low Information Voters than the erstwhile Golden State.

    Which is to say….I agree with Steve’s suggestions, but even implementing all that I don’t think it’s enough.

    I am not optimistic. For every one of the 4 million who have left in the past 20 years, they have been replaced mano-a-mano by someone who comes from a country where statist solutions – no matter how ineffectual – have been the norm for millenia. Explaining principles and benefits of limited government to most of these people is like explaining algebra to your dog.

    Reply this comment
  6. Hondo
    Hondo 26 December, 2012, 20:21

    I agree with jimmydeeoc, I am not that optimistic. We can’t ‘out give’ the Democratic Santa’s. The welfare class just doesn’t see past their own outstretched hands. They are told they will get all the welfare they want and that ‘someone else’ will pay for it. The endless deficits that Kali and the country are facing shows there simply isn’t enough ‘someone else’s’.
    The republicans will get back in power when the lights go out because there isn’t any money left to run the state. Then, how do the republicans govern in the darkness? How do you teach people to be self sufficient after generations of welfare dependance?

    Reply this comment
  7. BobA
    BobA 27 December, 2012, 08:33

    The problem the republican party faces, as I see it, is twofold:

    The democrats have spent the better part of the last 50+ years inculcating a welfare dependency mentality in Americans and then telling them that the reason they are poor and dependent is because somebody else is rich.

    Secondly, in recent years the democrats have made a concerted effort to balkanize America into insular ethnic groups and then cater to those groups with the promise of discriminatory advantages and a place at the public trough in return for loyalty to the democrat party.

    That mentality is difficult to overcome. Moreover, that mentality will persist as long as the republican party here in California and elsewhere fail to point this out and why it is wrong for America and how it is ruining America.

    Simply put, today’s republican party is bereft of anyone with the charisma and intellectual adeptness to articulate conservative principles and values without equivocation. It’s an exercise in futility to sound like a democrat and act like a democrat but call yourself a republican (re: “RINO”).

    Reply this comment
  8. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 27 December, 2012, 10:16

    Until the Repubs reject the hate filled, odd ball, ultra right, Bush knocked down building 7 element from the tea baggy spooky right Jesus squad…….they will continue to lose. And a weak GOP is REAL bad for the USA!

    Reply this comment
  9. BobA
    BobA 27 December, 2012, 16:57


    Still constipated and stuck on stupid aye? Try pounding salt instead of sand sand and see if that works.

    Reply this comment
  10. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 27 December, 2012, 20:01

    Relax BobA— it will be ok—- you just need to back away from the fanatics little buddy.

    Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 December, 2012, 20:39

    BobA says:

    Still constipated and stuck on stupid aye? Try pounding salt instead of sand sand and see if that works.

    LOL….Teddy, face it, you’re a tree hugging trougher, always will be 😉

    Reply this comment
  12. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 27 December, 2012, 22:53

    CalWatchdog says:
    No matter how liberal the Republicans become, they still lose. I don’t recall Meg Whitman winning the governorship, or am I missing something?

    –Steven Greenhut
    First off she tried to “buy” the election, and as Al Checchi proved 15 years ago you cannot by the governors seat in this state no matter how rich and how much money you spend. You need to address issues and have solutions for those issues.

    Nutmeg wanted pension reform that exempted public safety-OK, that is just plain nuts, and if anyone needed a reason on why Nutmeg flopped that alone is all you need.

    Reply this comment
  13. BobA
    BobA 27 December, 2012, 23:20


    Ted because is not particularly articulate and is at best on the shallow end of human intelligence. He’s your typical information deprived liberal moron.

    Reply this comment
  14. BobA
    BobA 27 December, 2012, 23:22


    Correction- my comment should read:

    Ted is not particularly articulate and is at best on the shallow end of human intelligence. He’s your typical information deprived liberal moron.

    Reply this comment
  15. BobA
    BobA 27 December, 2012, 23:25

    Darn it!!

    Rex, my comment should read:

    Ted is not particularly articulate and is at best on the shallow end of human intelligence. He’s your typical information deprived liberal moron.

    Reply this comment
  16. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 28 December, 2012, 08:13

    Teddy was an abused child I think, maybe that caused his shallow end intelligence 😉

    Reply this comment
  17. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 28 December, 2012, 09:01

    Are you ok Bob?

    Reply this comment
  18. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 28 December, 2012, 09:57

    Meg Whitman is not the only wealthy individual who has tried to buy an election. The Mungers just tried to buy CA and Sheldon Adelson just tried to buy the Presidency. That is why I usually side with the groups, such as unions, that are composed of regular folks like me.

    Reply this comment
  19. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 28 December, 2012, 10:14

    SeeSaw: At least Meg, the Mungers and Adelson spent their own money.

    The unions lifted dues from their members, the money actually robbed from me through taxation. So I was forced to subsidize my own slavery.

    The unions now own California, and all of us will have to put up with the coming devastation — or leave.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  20. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 28 December, 2012, 10:17

    Rex: Arnold bought the governorship twice.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  21. SkippingDog
    SkippingDog 28 December, 2012, 19:29

    It seems the larger problem is that you Republicans have allowed your once respected party to become nothing more than the political arms of extremist groups like the John Birch Society. Until you show them the door again – as William F. Buckley did when he created your contemporary conservative movement – you are destined to become an ever more isolated and irrelevant regional party.

    Personally, I like the path you’re on.

    Reply this comment
  22. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 29 December, 2012, 10:00

    CWD— The unions didn’t lift any money from me back when I was a member— I gladly paid. Please keep your hyperbole on a chain……….

    Reply this comment
  23. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 29 December, 2012, 13:39

    Mr. Seiler, how do you know for sure how those rich ones got their money? I guess that one millionaire buying up large companies and firing all the workers his/her own personal gain is a lot more honorable than joining a union.

    The union that I belonged to when I was working in the public sector was completely voluntary, and the dues were less than $15/mo. Those who didn’t join laughed in our faces because they were covered under the same MOU, regardless. Since I retired, I heard that they voted in an Agency Shop, requiring the freeloaders to pay their fair/share–too bad that some must be forced to do the right thing.

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Leave a Reply

Tags assigned to this article:
DemocratsEliasRepublican PartySteven Greenhut

Related Articles

Initiative filing fee hike moves closer to approval

A proposal to make it more expensive to file a ballot measure in California is moving closer to becoming law, worrying both liberal

CA GOP Convention delegates urge retired congressmen to help party’s finances

March 2, 2013 By John Hrabe SACRAMENTO — Meeting in the state capital this weekend for its spring convention, the

Lockyer blusters about symptom of union power — but not union power

Oct. 18, 2012 By Chris Reed The recent spate of attention paid to California school districts’ use of capital appreciation