CA GOP needs ideas, not just money 11, 2013

By Steven Greenhut

SACRAMENTO — Most of the activists, insiders and lobbyists I talked to during this month’s California Republican Party convention in Sacramento expressed optimism about their party despite blistering election losses and persistently falling voter registration levels.

Their optimism came from the election of former lawmaker Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga as state party chairman. “California Republicans have chosen a former state lawmaker known for his fundraising work to lead the party back from the brink of irrelevance in a state that once was a GOP stronghold,” pronounced an Associated Press report.

Given Brulte’s financial connections and vast Capitol experience, he was able to unite the conservative and moderate wings of the party at the convention.

Unite might be too strong of a word. The GOP has its back against the wall, is deeply in debt, has no blueprint for regaining momentum and is thoroughly lost ideologically. Brulte’s election may have been more of a “If you want it, you can have it” situation.

Also good news, the party event featured less of that internal bickering that has plagued past California GOP events (although it did have a couple of scandals, including yet another one involving some party member talking about rape). The old saying about academic battles being so vicious because the stakes are so small should be refined. The stakes now are so minimal, given the powerlessness of the state GOP, that it’s not even fun for them to fight with each other anymore.

Cynics joked that the convention theme was: “Republicans love Latinos.” Almost every public event was designed to highlight the party’s embrace of the state’s burgeoning Latino community. The party finally has recognized that it can’t win without deep support from a group that doesn’t vote for Republicans in large percentages, that it is paying the price for its past approach to immigration issues, and that its outreach efforts are ineffective.

Sending GOP emissaries into Latino neighborhoods to convince them to vote Republican worked as well as if left-wing Latino activists sent emissaries to Newport Beach to sign them up for the Democrats. The new efforts are designed to “grow” candidates and send them through the Republican pipeline. Unfortunately, it’s hard to launch this effort without it smacking of pandering. I’d feel better, also, if the new candidates were more about principles, less about ethnicity and values.

If I were giving the convention a theme, I’d have borrowed the title of the 2009 Jennifer Aniston movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You.” California’s voters just don’t care about the party. Ginning up fundraising by electing a deal-cutting former lobbyist makes sense from a party-structure standpoint. But where are GOP leaders who want to engage in the battle of ideas? And do they even know what ideas to engage in?

Karl Rove

The weekend convention’s Saturday luncheon featured campaign strategist Karl Rove, who blasted the Obama administration for increasing the federal government’s debt and failing to deal with the crushing entitlement burden from Social Security and Medicare. But, as former President George W. Bush’s top adviser, Rove pushed policies that doubled the national debt and worsened the entitlements situation under the faulty idea that voters would embrace the GOP if the party handed out goodies. Delegates in attendance for Rove’s speech should have at least walked out of the room or booed loudly.

Former Irvine assemblyman Chuck DeVore spoke at a lunch event. He is a solid conservative, but one who fled the state for Austin, Texas. He makes great points about Texas policy, but many California Republicans might have come away with a different lesson: How do I find a good job in Dallas?

Some of the politicians even were championing their newfound willingness to reach across party lines. That sounded nice, but the Democratic Party is committed to expanding regulation, increasing taxes, blocking reform to union entitlements and creating new government programs and agencies. Once in a while, an occasional “point of light” will emerge — i.e., a growing consensus for reforming the project-halting California Environmental Quality Act. But the Democrats don’t need Republican support for that or anything else.

New approach

What’s an irrelevant party to do? Its new approach will take many years, at best, to change the state’s political climate, and California needs help immediately.

Instead of worrying about the political process, the party needs to build ideas that resonate with the public. Republicans will never compete with Democrats in the game of government giveaway. They need to boisterously rebuild that old “Leave Us Alone” coalition and point out why government is the main obstacle to so many Californians’ freedom and prosperity, although I’m not sure how many of the party’s leaders or activists believe that.

Look at how Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster dragged into the national spotlight the Obama administration’s police-state policies on drone attacks on Americans. Likewise, California Republicans need the courage and vision to engage Californians about how the ways the union-controlled Democratic majority is degrading our state.

That might not make the GOP lobbyists and consultants happy, but the party now needs ideological leadership even more than political leadership.

Steven Greenhut is vice president of journalism at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Write to him at: [email protected]


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  1. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 11 March, 2013, 06:55

    Here’s an idea Greenster– ditch the hate filled teabag extreme of the party and regain power and the trust of the American’s who will put the GOP back in power.

    Reply this comment
  2. Phil
    Phil 11 March, 2013, 09:53

    It’s almost funny how often those that urge against the “hate filled” right use hate-filled derogatory language.

    Reply this comment
  3. Hondo
    Hondo 11 March, 2013, 10:17

    Teddy: Your support of the most violent political movement in amerika’s history, the Occupy movement, by not saying anything against it, is disgusting.
    The Tea party is the most peaceful political movement in amerika’s history. Not one crime has been documented at any of their events.
    Your party, the democrats, and the Occupy movement,are the party of hate and rape against women. 93% of all felons (including rape and child rape)are self identified democrats. The Occupy movement is in a frenzy of rape, they are a raping machine. They have more rapes of women, per capita, than any other organization on earth except for Stalin’s army when they marched into Germany in 1945 and raped nearly every women there. That includes a hate crime robbery in Oakland.
    Teddy, name one hateful thing the Tea party have said, or done. You can’t. I can point to the Occupy movement and the Democratic party as being in a felony frenzy.

    Reply this comment
  4. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 March, 2013, 10:36

    I don’t support the Occupy folks– even though you like to think so. And I also don’t buy in to the teabaggy info about them. Sorry.

    But again, you remain a case in point. This thread is about why the GOP is doing so poorly. It’s you little buddy. I posted hate filled tea bag activities and articles amigo– want it again? Happy to.

    That you cling to them is the point. You guys honestly don’t understand why your brand is losing. Unreal!

    Reply this comment
  5. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 March, 2013, 10:58

    Here’s a nice one for ya Honda— I know you can’t see this, but this is why your party in in the dumper amigo…

    Reply this comment
  6. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 11 March, 2013, 11:00

    “Instead of worrying about the political process, the party needs to build ideas that resonate with the public. They need to boisterously rebuild that old “Leave Us Alone” coalition….”

    Hard to see how the Reeps can preach “Leave Us Alone” when they encourage the government to enforce their ideological, religious and moral views on such things as gay marriage and family planning.

    And Hondo, the most violent political movement in the nation’s history is the militia movement, which spawned the likes of Timothy McVeigh. Tied for first is the KKK. Both of these movements still have support in the nether regions of the Rabid Right.

    Maybe if the Tea Party rallies didn’t have signs talking about killing the President and overthrowing the government, I’d believe you about how “peaceful” the party is.

    Reply this comment
  7. Republicans Need More Monitors
    Republicans Need More Monitors 11 March, 2013, 12:46

    Every time a small-fry Republican activist says something that could be construed as “unacceptable” to the Establishment Left when taken out of context, it is blown up in the news media for all to hear and is depicted as representative of all Republicans.

    There’s only one way to stop this. Do the same to the Democrats. You would not believe the stuff the average Democrat activist says and does in the big coastal cities. Those people are absolutely consumed with hate for anyone who disagrees with their “progressive” philosophy. The hate eats them alive.

    No one is tracking it. If someone did, states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio would swing back to the GOP, that’s for sure.

    Reply this comment
  8. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 March, 2013, 13:00

    Well said Steve. The chief problems the Repubs have are

    1. demonstrably, voters are afraid of their extremism.

    2. They don’t appear to be for anything that most Americans are for.

    Simple as that, put the party is hobbled by the teabag right. Sad.You can see it out here each time they post extreme views. It’s hard to understand what they’re afraid of. If the GOP was anything like it was in Nixon’s time, they’d win EVERY election hands down. They continue to be their own worst enemy. It’s not just Dems like me saying it– many Repub’s agree. Watch the replies below and see…

    Reply this comment
  9. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 11 March, 2013, 14:21

    StevefromSacto wrote: “Hard to see how the Reeps can preach ‘Leave Us Alone’ when they encourage the government to enforce their ideological, religious and moral views on such things as gay marriage and family planning.”

    Actually, it’s just the opposite. Obamacare is forcing Catholics and others to violate their deeply held religious beliefs by mandating insurance coverage for contraception and abortion, shredding the First Amendment right to religious liberty.

    In California, in 2011 Gov. Jerry Brown signed a “gay history law” that mandates a view of homosexuality taught in the government schools that severely violates the rights of Christians, Jews and other parents with traditional beliefs on sexuality.

    And in 2012, Brown signed a law banning “gay conversion therapy” that parents get for their children, a severe violation of parental rights, the doctor-patient privilege and the First Amendment rights to free speech and religion. Fortunately, it looks like the courts will overturn it.

    If you’re a traditional Christian or Jewish parent, California is an exceedingly difficult place for raising your kids.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  10. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 March, 2013, 14:43

    “absolute tyranical hell” ? John, are you ok little buddy? Isn’t that just a wee bit bombastic? I mean “absolute” tyranical hell does not leave room for much else. Haven’t we othwerwise required pacifists to be drafted? Required jewish kids to eat non kosher meals? Worked on the Sabath of several religions? I could go on but I think you sense the point. Isn’t some of this required for the social compact?


    Reply this comment
  11. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 11 March, 2013, 14:47

    Ted: Maybe “absolute tyrannical hell,” my original words, was excessive. I changed it.

    My traditional Jewish and Christian friends have an exceedingly difficult time raising their kids in their own traditions in this state, especially if the kids go to the government schools. The culture, especially in the schools, is toxic. The government always is attacking their faith. The textbooks are PC trash.

    And the parents also are forced to pay for it through sky-high taxes!

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  12. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 11 March, 2013, 15:52

    Point taken John.

    I don’t think all of the text books are trash though– at least the ones I’ve seen. PC is of course taken to an extreme. That is unless you’re a kid on the short end of the stick and a minority getting pre-judged or overlooked. And that of course we know well has gone on forever not only in California but everywhere.

    Taxes for schools? Worth every penny. Crown jewels of democracy. I am certain Adams and Jefferson would agree in principle. Public school education is still wonderful in this state. It got me through college and grad school. I am glad I had the chance.

    Reply this comment
  13. Donkey
    Donkey 11 March, 2013, 16:14

    Ted=the ultimate trough feeder. Adams and Jefferson would be appalled at he state of the nation, especially the schools and the RAGWUS of California.

    Ted Steals, your perspective on government use of power proves that your education and time was wated. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  14. Donkey
    Donkey 11 March, 2013, 16:16

    That was “wasted” Teddy Steals!!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  15. Donkey
    Donkey 11 March, 2013, 18:27

    Ted, your hate mail on the tea party folk leads me to believe you are an insane eco-freak. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  16. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 11 March, 2013, 19:34

    Duncey— shhhh— adults are talking here little buddy!

    Reply this comment
  17. Donkey
    Donkey 11 March, 2013, 21:10

    Teddy Steals, always speaks in hushed tone when the truth is absent.

    You could have never graduated from any High School, let alone college my debauched friend. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  18. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 11 March, 2013, 21:40

    LOL– ok little buddy!

    Reply this comment
  19. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 12 March, 2013, 11:15

    “always speak in hushed tone when the truth is absent”

    If that were true, we’d have to read jacka–s’lips.

    Reply this comment
  20. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 12 March, 2013, 11:16

    Meant to say jacka–s’ lips.

    Reply this comment
  21. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 12 March, 2013, 11:21

    John Seiler, I thought you were a libertarian. Libertarians support freedom of and from religion. Libertarians do not support having government mandate individual behavior. If it’s wrong for government to prevent people from buying soft drinks with sugar, it’s just as wrong for government to determine who should be legally married or whether they should have an abortion.

    Reply this comment
  22. Ted Steele, Navigator
    Ted Steele, Navigator 12 March, 2013, 16:08

    WOW– you’ve got him on that one Steve-o ! I think Steve is correct…

    John– you’re not bone fide! Say it aint so John!!!!

    Reply this comment
  23. Donkey
    Donkey 13 March, 2013, 08:10

    StevefromSacto, abortion is murder of the defenseless, only in the mind of a zealot could it be equated with marriage. But you are correct about marriage, why is the governemnt involved with it, other than the fact that people on the left have sought to redefine its definition and were rebuffed by the people. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  24. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 14 March, 2013, 06:46

    Poor Duncey— “people on the left”? Little buddy, they don’t want to redefine anything, they just want the Constitution to apply to all. You remember the Constitution, don’t ya little buddy?

    Reply this comment

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