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Grassroots Network of the Republican Party of Virginia

Ideology, Party Discipline and Campaign Organization

Ideology, Party Discipline and Campaign Organization

This is a long post. It took several hours to write. I hope you find it worth spending 5 minutes to read.


Anyone who scans these forums, even briefly, recognizes Virginia Republicans are engaged in an often painful examination of where we are, how we got here and, most importantly, how do we move forward. Most of the discussions have been useful but there still seems to be something missing. A great deal of discussion has focused on identifying a single cause (and corresponding silver bullet solution) for our declining fortunes in Virginia, particularly in NOVA. Attempts have been made to pin the blame on RINOs, ideologues, party elites, herd mentality by grassroots and sheer incompetence on the part of RPVA. I believe that none of the above are fully responsible for our current situation and all of the above share at least a portion of the blame. We can separate these issues into their component parts, it makes for easier examination; but must conduct a full 360 degree assessment of past mistake (and successes). Only then will we be able to craft a comprehensive plan to change direction.

Ideology -- This is unquestionably the most hot button issue in these forums. Most commentators advocate either compromising core believes to gain votes from moderates or taking an unyielding position in order to avoid losing conservatives. I think we need to reexamine these issue and recognize they can be broken into sub-issues that allow us opportunities to focus on areas where moderate voters may agree with us, seek compromise on non-core sub-issues and even do a little horse trading on some of them.

NOVA moderates who want a variety of government services, particularly enhanced transportation systems, do not necessarily want to pay $1.50 in taxes for $0.75 in services. Many of them also work for small nimble beltway bandits and instinctively understand that a smaller government focused on achieving excellence in providing critical services is more desirable than a large over bloated bureaucracy that tries to do everything. A strident anti government message that dismisses the need for services they value drives these voters toward the Democrats. A message that government cannot only live within its means but deliver a better quality of service in the process will bring them back.

Many voters in NOVA, and increasingly the rest of the state, are more libertarian than liberal or conservative. The want government to stay away from their finances, their gun cabinet and most particularly their family. This means they tend to shut out pro-life messages they perceive as purely anti-abortion intrusions into their personal decisions. But they are also often open to parental rights message that government officials in schools, social services agencies and the courts should not be allowed to insert themselves between parents and their daughters. This issue are was actually something of a success story for Virginia Republicans during the 80s and 90s when many pro-life candidates for State House and Senate races gained support from nominally pro-choice areas by using these sub-issues effectively. These moderate voters also tend to see gay rights issues, including gay marriage, as one of government intrusion into personal decisions. But many of them would be open to a trade-off whereby government recognizes their right to live and marry as they please but school systems are prohibited from advocating lifestyles of any type and government respects parental rights to determine values in their family.

My basic point regarding ideology is that it is more complex than left, right, center / black, white grey / surrender, stand-your-ground, compromise etc. We will never gain votes from hard core liberal ideologues and attempting to run to the left of Democrats is both demeaning and ineffective. But I believe there are actually far fewer of these voters than election returns indicate. Republicans can win NOVA with a basically conservative message if we focus on delivering the message correctly. We need to listen to all voters, determine what is most important to them, identify areas of agreement as well as disagreement, deliver compelling messages focused on areas of agreement, look for areas where we can horse trade without compromising truly core principals, respectfully but clearly articulate the areas where we cannot compromise and offer voters every possible opportunity to support us without compromising their principals.

Party Discipline(Leaders) We name streets in Virginia after the type of party discipline and unity demonstrated by many of our leaders: “One Way” and “Dead End”. This has been a growing cancer since 1978 when grassroots conservatives not only held their noses to vote for a Senator not of their choosing; but, actively made phone calls, walked precincts and worked polls in one of the most impressive volunteer efforts the state had ever seen and delivered a narrow victory. That Senator returned the favor with lackluster support for RPVA fundraising efforts, tepid endorsements of most conservative candidates, refusal to endorse others even after they had won the nomination, outright opposition to the Republican candidate for Senate in 1994 and a decision to retire when it became clear that he was the only nominal Republican who could hold the seat against the very real possibility of Democrats gaining 60 votes in the Senate. Today he is acknowledged as one of our most honored party leaders.

He has set the example for others to follow. In 1993 when the RPVA funded a three part bumper sticker for the statewide ticked reading “Allen/Ferris/Gilmore” in red, white and blue, Republican party officials in some areas handed out smaller white stickers reading “Beyer” that could be put over the center portion. I remember arriving at a parking lot in Centerville for a percent canvassing effort and being so disgusted by their open opposition to one of our candidates that I got in my car and drove home. In 2001, many of these same so called party leaders openly supported Mark Warner against Mark Early, helping to give Warner a relatively narrow victory in a campaign where he outspent Early 2 to 1, as well as giving the Democrats the opening wedge they have used so effectively in the past 10 years. We have had State Senators give radio interviews in which they proudly stated they were “Republican In Name Only”. More recently we have seen the State Chairman of RPVA encourage, or at least not stop, robo-calls aimed at our candidate for governor. Meanwhile, from last June to April 4th, members of the SCC were spending more time, money and political capital removing the chairman than supporting Republican candidates.

Our party leaders have evolved from emulating Benedict Arnold to impersonating the Three Stooges. This cannot be allowed to continue. Virginia Republicans enjoyed a steady growth in volunteers, fundraising and grassroots activism from the mid 70s through the late 90s. Since then we have had a slow steady erosion of all three. Prince William County, the second largest in the state, had less than 200 people attend the 2009 county convention. There are no leaders without followers and very few people will follow a leader who is disloyal or incompetent.

We ask a great deal of our grassroots supporters, including voting and working for candidates they may have opposed during the nomination process. We should demand no less of our leaders. Candidates for statewide office should be required to commit to raising $500,000 for the RPVA and $500,000 each for other statewide candidates if they are elected. They should commit to raising lower amounts for Congressional, State legislative local candidates and local party organizations. Similar targets should be established for candidates for other offices. All elected Republican office holders should commit to endorsing the Party’s candidates within 3 days of the convention or primary. Failure to meet fundraising or endorsement commitments should result in a proportional loss of support from the party for the individual’s reelection.

I am about the furthest one can get from a doctrinaire ideologue, often agree with moderates on policy issues and have voted for several moderates in primary elections; but few things make my blood boil more than elected party leaders deliberately undermining the campaigns of Republican nominees or withholding support for party fundraising. If they cannot or will not support the Party, they should not accept its nomination.

Party Discipline(Followers) Grassroots activists can, should, MUST make their voices heard. They must also recognize they are not the only constituency in the political environment. Donors, who may or may not overlap with activists, have a right to be heard as well. But voters trump all else. Party rules facilitate the ability of small groups of activists to dominate sparsely attended county or state conventions, nominate marginal candidates, pass dogmatic resolutions and issue “interesting” public statements in the Party’s name. It may feel good for a day or even a week but elected officials are in office for 2, 4 or 6 years and nominating a fringe candidate or handing the opposition a resolution/statement that can be used as a club against us is just plain stupid. The sting of the voters’ rejection at the polling place will remain long after the triumph of the resolution in the high school auditorium has faded from memory.

Grassroots activists in Virginia are some of the most sophisticated in the nation, particularly in NOVA. Most of them have been active at some level for decades. Many of them work or have worked for elected officials or government agencies. More than a few of them have held elected office. They read newspapers and public policy journals, watch television talk shows, listen to talk radio and educate themselves about both issues and public opinion. They know very well how most of their neighbors will react to certain candidates, resolutions or statements. Many of them simply don’t care. Too many of our grassroots are more interested in maintaining a dogmatic ideological purity than in advancing a public policy agenda.

Equally important, elected officials cannot, should not, and in most cases will not allow themselves to be dominated by groups that represent a small fraction of 1 percent of voters. The same rules that allow activists to dominate conventions also allow incumbents to bypass them and seek reelection through primaries.

Grassroots activists in Virginia have more ability to determine the Party’s nominees and policy platform than in almost any other state. To my knowledge, only Utah comes as close to empowering the grassroots as Virginia. But with power comes responsibility. The continual efforts to reshape the party as the private play toy of small groups of activists has decimated party organizations in NOVA, driven away many potential voters, donors and volunteers, and culminated in a state leadership fight that may yet cost us the governor’s race.

If these small groups of activists cannot or will not control their desire to “make a statement” regardless of the cost to the party’s ability to win elections and shape public policy, than the SCC should dilute their power by adopting party rules that broaden the nominating base and limit the role of conventions. At the very least, if a convention is called for the purpose of nominating a candidate to local office and does not receive applications for certification as a delegate from at least 5 percent of the Republican vote in the last election, the convention should be cancelled and a primary held in its place.

Campaign Organization – Close examination of statewide campaigns since 2001 indicate Republicans could have and should have survived ideological splits, disloyal leaders and runaway activists while continuing to win a string of state wide victories. All of these factors hurt but none were fatal, individually or collectively. No, we defeated ourselves with some of the worst campaigns in history. Larry Sabato has made a fairly good living chronicling some of these errors. They could serve as textbook examples of how not to run for statewide office.

Mark Early seemed to believe that he would win ROVA as a conservative and NOVA as a native son so he could get by with less than impressive fundraising and wait until after Labor Day to get serious about campaigning. By the time this campaign got started, Mark Warner had already raised twice as much money, albeit mostly from himself, recruited and trained the most extensive field staff the state had seen upto then, and developed a comprehensive list of over 3 million voters complete with contact information and policy preferences. Nevertheless, Warner only won by about 4 percent. If we had actually fought this fight instead of assuming we had it won, Mark would only be remembered as the “other” Warner.

Jerry Kilgore had one of the best and most comprehensive transportation funding proposals ever put forward by a Virginia candidate. You could find it about 6 levels down on his website and there was a passing reference to it in one of his brochures. When I asked his NOVA field rep when or if they would hand out copies of the transportation plan at slug lots, she asked “what is a slug lot?” She had however already lined up her next job as a field rep for Jim Nussle’s campaign for governor of Iowa. He also lost. Meanwhile, the Kilgore campaign poured limited resources into an easily dismissed commercial about the death penalty. The same field rep told me this was because over 80 percent of voters in Va. supported the death penalty. It’s called preaching to the choir. In Virginia the ACLU supports the death penalty. No one ever believed a Virginia governor would try to repeal it, Kaine promised to apply it, end of debate.

George Allen truly was coasting to reelection. So his campaign decided to conduct a series of grueling bus trips around the state in August where he would get little sleep, be constantly moving, give the same basic speech till saying anything different to spice it up seemed attractive and just to make it interesting, the staff would feed him some of the jokes they told about the “monitors” the Democrats were sending to his events. Instead of responding to the inevitable gaffe with a quick apology and the sacrifice of the staffer who provided the wrong name, the campaign decided to conduct a case study in how to make a bad situation worse.

By 2008, the damage had been done. Nothing Gilmore, or anyone else, could have done would have changed the outcome. He and his campaign went through the motions and made fewer mistakes than his predecessors but it was obvious their hearts weren’t in it.

Two common threads run through all these races. Excessive reliance on paid staff who were unfamiliar with the state and an attempt to apply a cookie cutter campaign plan that had worked previously in some other place and time. Mark Early more or less tried to repeat Gilmore’s successful gubernatorial race based on following a popular incumbent and running against a weak self funding opponent with next to no base outside NOVA. That plan worked well in 97 against Don Beyer. It failed miserably in 2001 against Mark Warner. Kilgore tried to repeat George Allen’s successful race using the death penalty instead of parole reform and substituting Tim Kaine for Mary Sue Terry. Again, worked well in 93 and failed in 2005. Allen was trying to recreate his own successful statewide wins with the help of the campaign manager who had defeated Tom Daschle in South Dakota. There is no question; Tom Thune beat Daschle with a combination of an early campaign start, grueling bus tours across South Dakota, hard attacks and shoot from the hip tactics. All of which were particularly ill suited to an incumbent sitting on a double digit lead against an opponent with almost no name recognition.

The instructor at the College Republican Field-rep School I attended in 1977 told us there are no cookie cutter campaigns. Each race is a unique event in time, location and personalities. Every campaign must be approached as if it were the first ever to be conducted. The planning must be meticulous and based on a comprehensive analysis of the state or district which must be conducted anew for each and every race. The manager must learn and know every item of quantitative or qualitative information available regarding the district and the field staff must become as familiar with their assigned areas as they are with their home towns. This is the bare minimum required to even have a chance of winning. That instructor was Karl Rove. His weekend seminar still stands as the best I’ve ever attended.

We need to insist our candidates apply these lessons in Virginia. No funding without a detailed campaign plan. Staff must commit to learning their assigned regions quickly and demonstrate they have done so early in the campaign. Most importantly, each candidate must clearly articulate who will vote for them and why with minimal dependence on voting against the opponent or force of habit.

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Brian,

Your team is down 35-0 in the 4th quarter. The ball is on your 35. You can slap high fives for holding their offense to a 15 yard gain in the next play because you didn't let 'em go all the way. But, you are still playing defense and still losing the game. You can call it a victory to prevent the other team from scoring on the play. But, doing so isn't optimism, it's self delusion.

The Republican mainstream can cling to the notion that all you need to do is find better candidates, organize more effectively, moderate public statements and compromise to make progress. But, history shows that this strategy has elected only one conservative President and one conservative Congress in this century. Meanwhile, conservative ideas, capitalism and the American system and government have been buried. In addition to the government, you have lost the media, the entertainment field, the education system and the popular culture.

The idea that Republicans can win the swing vote by moving toward the incoherent, uncomprehending, disloyal middle is bankrupt. What needs to happen is to bring the swing voter to conservativism and the Republican Party, not the other way round. Republicans should be running against Congress and reform of the corrupt political system that has taken root.

I think you an Peter have it exactly backward. Instead of breaking issues into sub-issues, mini issues and micro issues until you can find some common ground and compromise to make Republican candidates more attractive, you should be focused on promoting the founding principles of liberty, opportunity and justice. There is where the answers to transportation, education, job creation and so forth are to be found. Doing so not only provides a guide but the rationale and justification for the solution.

This is the view of this grassroots conservative.



Brian W. Schoeneman said:
George, there's a difference between winning elections and governing effectively. That's the issue. Most of the time, unless the issue is one where bipartisan consensus exists - and those issues are far fewer and far between then they've ever been before - there's going to have to be some kind of compromise to get anything enacted.

What drives voters to the polls on specific policy issues is the belief that the candidate understands what the average person is going through, has a plan to solve the issue, and that the plan has a legitimate chance of being enacted. But that's only for specific policy issues where people recognize there is a problem that needs to be solved, such as transportation or energy.

For more amorphous issues like education, health care and all of the social issues, you're never going to be able to come up with a plan to fix everything that has a legitimate chance of being enacted. So there, your goal as a candidate is to convince and reassure voters that you have the good judgment and understanding to make the right decision on the issue when it comes time to vote.

And yes, I have to say that if the other guy wants to spend $700 billion and you want him to spend nothing, getting him to only spend $350 billion is a victory. Next time, you have to get it down even more. In the current environment, with Democrats controlling everything, getting that down to $350 billion is a major victory, because the Dems have the votes to get their full $700 billion without our approval and despite our opposition. Again, we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. It's better to slow them down if we can't stop them completely. I don't believe the system is corrupted beyond repair, but I understand the frustration - we all are frustrated.
It's not hard to tell that politics is what you do Brian. I appreciate that. I am an operations person and not a salesman. Unfortunately in my position I am also the salesman. In politics you are a salesman who deals with the operations later. I am an operator who has to find a way to make the sale first.

I think if what I was selling were conservative principles I would be a better salesperson. I am actually pretty good at getting my ideas across without being abrasive as long as the person listening has an open mind. Most moderates do have open minds. That's why they are moderates.

I think it's very diplomatic that in a discussion with a moderate you look for areas of agreement. I prefer to convince them to agree with me. I have difficulty working the other way. I'm good though with agreeing to disagree and lets agree that at the state level or local level we have more control over these things. That's my preferred line with a moderate.

When I moved to Vermont I was expecting to find all of these uber liberals. What I found was that the majority of the people were just like me. They just were'nt politically active. Don't you think that if we had a solid conservative message of States Rights, Individual Rights, Self Reliance, and Doing Unto Others.... we could get some of those people to hop on board.
Brian- The "Republican Party"s trying to gain the votes of a diverse number of people. so called the "Big Tent." You are a moderate that pushes "not promoting the social issues, as they are so very divisive." I am thinking of the Hispanic community, who are more Conservative, than say, people like you. I am talking about "legal" hispanics in particular. They are hard working, have family values, and yes, they will work for little money to provide food and necessities for their famlies, they mostly are very Christian and are a mostly religious people, they surely are for lower taxes, and have their children, rather than abort them. I am not sure of their position on "Gay Marriage", but, I will guess that they have an opposition to it, just as the black voters in California. It really is seeming to me that the Gay Marriage issue is more "white" than hispanic and black. You want to take the argument of "social issues" off the table, because it doesn't fit your beliefs, even though the Conservatives could use it as a very winning issue (if the candidate keeps to his word). I cannot even believe that you would take the very important Conservative value off the table, in order to talk the talk, but, not walk the walk. I am absolutely amazed that you would even promote saying one thing in a campaign, and, then going your own way, once voted in. Isn't that what Obama, Clinton, and Gillebrand have done? You say to Mark that you get more "flys" with honey than vinegar. I have no interest in attracting flys, and, there is a simple remedy to get rid of insects with the use of vinegar. You are misguided, a true Politician, and an enabler for a third party.
Brian- I have been reading the posts here, and, I want to say that I have been astounded at some of your comments. I thought that the Republicans were supposed to be the party of "ideas." You have sp totally spun your positions, with no ideas of solutions, but, with every political spin known to man. You post long posts that have absolutely nothing to do with anything that is being asked of you, it is becoming hilarious. Do you have any ideas of exact messages, or ideas for what you are saying, other than "spin."?
There is a clock and time is just about up. Rules may change but it's the other side that, over time, has moved the ball ever closer to the goal line. As I said, optimisim is one thing, self-delusion is another. Victory is vicroty, defeat is defeat and in the culture war as well as in politics, conservativism and Republicans are losing...badly.

The reason that only one conservative has won the Presidency in the past century is that Republicans have only nominated one. What this demonstrates is that the Republican Party, though it talks a good game, is not the conservative party. The financial crisis created such rage in the country that the Republicans, if they'd only had the stones for it, could have nailed Democrats to the front door of Freddie Mac and won the Presidency, the House and the Senate *if* they'd had a Presidential nominee that could string two consecutive coherent sentences together in the same paragraph. But, Republicans, after squandering their conservative legacy, nominated the quintesential moderate, the man with bi-partisan credentials, known for opposing his own party and willingness to reach across the isle, Garblefarb.

The proof is in the election results, my friend.

Stealth and deception works great for Democrats and never works for Republicans. Below, you justifiably decry hipocracy in politics but advocate it at one and the same time. Well, the question that keeps popping up around here is just what is the Republican Party all about? Is it the conservative party or the moderate party? Which is to ask, is it the conservative party or the slightly less than moonbat liberal party? Well, you can't out liberal a liberal. There is no reason to buy the cheap imiatation when you can get the real thing. So, in my opinion, if the Republican Party can't build a majority on a conservative base there is no reason for it.

Once again, I contradict Tip O'Neil and assert that today, all politics is Federal. It's top down, not bottom up. There is no "grassroots" that is going to arise and sweep Republicans into office on school boards, county boards and then to state and federal offices without the coat tails of popular national leaders.

And, there will be no popular national Republican leaders for so long as the Party fails to encourage, recruit and inspire conservatives. Moderates follow the popular sentiment, whatever it happens to be on any given day. Without conversatives, you got nada.

Brian W. Schoeneman said:
George, the football analogy doesn't work. This isn't just a game. There's no clock, the rules change on a daily basis, and there are thousands of different things that can be called a "victory." As I said before, campaigns are campaigns and governing is governing. You can't have one without the other, but what wins campaigns doesn't always make for good governance.

You can't implement conservative principles in government if you can't get elected. And, as you've noted, only one president and one Congress has managed to get elected in the last century espousing those principles. If that's the case, what you should be arguing is that Republicans should campaign as moderates and govern as conservatives. But I'm pretty sure that's not what you're advocating.

Personally, I wish people would campaign and govern the same way - I don't want to have a candidate run as a moderate and then juke to the left when he's elected. And I don't want a candidate to run from the middle and then juke right, either. Liberals should run as liberals, conservatives as conservatives and moderates as moderates. One of the reasons I believe that many are cynical about politics is the disconnect between what candidates say and what elected officials do. That's one of the biggest areas we need reform, frankly, and that is only going to happen when our candidates have the courage to be honest and aren't punished when they are.
Here is a pretty simple question Brian. If a politician is willing to mold his platform to win the middle. How do we know he is not also molding his platform to bring in as much as the base as possible. In which case we have no idea where he actually stands. You say you are for a lot of the same conservative priciples that I am yet don't want to use them to win elections. I don't doubt your sincerity but I would doubt the sincerity of a candidate who was constantly molding his speach to fit the election level (state/National or Primary/General). I don't know if he's pandering to me in the primary, pandering to the middle in the General Election, or just lying to all of us. Haven't we had enough of candidates who will say whatever they have to say to get elected then show their true colors in office?
Peter,

A fantastic post. I've been so disconcerted by many who after losing not only seem to lose perspective of why they lost but then go on to misdiagnose the conditions under which they lost. Here in VA I have not seen the people changing as much as I've seen the tactics of our opponents change and the money factor is a huge one with liberal activists repeatedly targeting VA. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine cast themselves not as the liberals they are but as centrists which they most certainly aren't. We are not losing because of social issues but we can not win with them alone. We are losing because of several reasons but one big one is the media wall, money, and disunity. If you can't raise money to run ads and get your message out then don't bother. If you can't win or lose the party nomination with some dignity and class then don't bother. I've seen some really horrid zealots who don't understand the difference between an ally and enemy such as with the pro-life issue. The only thing I care about is that someone is friendly to the pro-life cause and will not promote the ugly issue and can be counted on. Straining over minutia of how pro-life someone is once they are already with you is stupid. I had far too many arguments in support of Gilmore and others who were clearly on the side of life with proven records on the issue but that wasn't enough for some especially for those whose favored candidate lost the nomination. At the end of the day I care about one thing moving the ball down the field and as long as I know the candidate I support is moving the ball the right direction I can be happy supporting them and I believe we'd win far more races if we saw it that way.
Totally agree with you about the platform conforming to the level of government. Then again if a local candidate is asked a question about a Federal issue he/she should answer that it is a Federal issue and not relevant to the post which he/she is running for. Even better, if a candidate running for Federal office is asked a question about say..Gay Marriage.. he/she should say "my personal feelings aside, I feel that each state has the right to decide this issue on their own according to the will of its people. As your representative I will stand for this states right to stick by it's principals on that issue."

Unfortunately as citizens we cannot afford to drop these issues or stop protesting for our beliefs. The other side is winning the war as far as winning the hearts and minds of our young people. If you poll most young people they believe in gay marriage as a constitional right, they see abortion as a way out of a sticky situation, they view sexuality as something that they have a responsibility to explore, they believe that marijuana should be legalized and the drinking age lowered, and they are in general too near sited to see the damage done by governmental overspending. On one hand we need to win elections, on the other hand we need leaders who can explain conservative principals in a way that makes people see them for the truth that they represent.
"George, the Republican party isn't strictly a conservative party."

Yes, that's the problem as I've said. Voters get to choose between the crazy party and the stupid party.

"The Democratic party isn't strictly a liberal party."

Then I cannot imagine what your definitiion of "liberal" could be. Some Democrats may not be liberal but they may as well be since they vote that way and the result is the same. As mentioned earlier, 89% of Democrats approve of the President's national suicide policies. Either they are liberal or too stupid to walk about without supervision.

"Our party is a center-right party, and instead of fighting that, we should embrace it..."

This is an example of "gimblebabble." We should "embrace it"? What does that mean?

"...because there are honestly more center-right people in this country than there are center-left. But if we kick out the center, we're left with a rump that can't win elections and can't influence policy."

Good grief... You already have "a rump that can't win elections and can't influence policy." Your strategy and approach has already failed. Republicans aren't left with only the choice of "embracing" the center or "kicking it out". Instead, the Republican Party might "embrace" conservativism and work to attract the muddled middle. Does that require too much effort for consideration?

"You can't pin the loss of the last election solely on McCain."

I didn't. I wrote, "Republicans, if they'd only had the stones for it, could have nailed Democrats to the front door of Freddie Mac..." Even as inept and ineffective as McCain was, he was belatedly right on taxes, energy and terrorism. Republicans could have swept the elections if they could have and would have gone after the Democrats for the political scandal that is instead known as the "financial crisis". Congress is corrupted beyond redemption. Democrats and Republicans divide the spoils. So, too many Republicans were too busy looting for themselves to interfer with Democrats looting at Freddie and Fannie. Too many Republicans were acting as you would have them act; cutting deals, horse trading, compromising and looking the other way. When the music stopped, too many Republicans hid under their desks instead of exposing the Democrats and standing up for the people of this country.

"The entire environment was bad, both economic and political, and there was significant voter fatigue from having Republicans in control for so long."

Fiddlesticks. There was a significant lack of action on a conservative agenda and a significant lack of agressive promotion of conservative principles, a significant amount of complacency about reforming the Congress and a significant sense of urgency about looting as much as possible before the next election.

"Sometimes losing clenses the political pallet and lets us rebuild stronger than we were before. That's what I'm hoping is the result of 2008."

Gimblebabble. There is no substitute for victory. Let's see... After FDR's election, Republicans failed to win a majority in the House for 45 years. Think the political pallet will be cleansed by 2053?

"I'm not advocating hypocrisy at all. I just wish that we, as an electorate, wouldn't force our candidates to become hypocites in order to get elected."

No one is forced to become a hipocrite. That's a choice.

"But when we base most of our decisions about their stances on issues that they will rarely, if ever, have to decide in office, what do we expect?"

Honesty. Many or our local politicians are going to run for state offices, then federal positions and possibly the presidency. Bob McDonnel will run for the Senate when he's term limited, that's how it works.

How does Bob McDonnell's stance on abortion matter when he's trying to handle budget deficits? Why spend so much time on it?"

I'm not spending any time on McDonnell's stance on abortion. Democrats, not Republicans and liberals, not conservatives are obsessed with abortion. Abortion is the law of the land accoriding to the "emanations and penumbras" of the Supreme Court and that's that. However, Democrats are not content with that outcome and are constantly working to expand abortion however and wherever possible. It's bad enough that Americans have lost their right to decide political issues like abortion, they must also give up their daughters to state control and pay to abort babies both in the United States and around the world. What's the right-center position on spending $309,000,000 of federal taxpayer money on abortions in the U.S. and $400,000,000 on abortion overseas? Is that a Supreme Court mandade? 'Cause I can't find that provision in the Constitution.

"The only reason I call myself a moderate is because I don't want to be accused of being a 'traitor' to conservatism when I don't follow blindly all of the tenets that have been erected over the years. Frankly, I wish we would stop with the labeling..."

Why? I've always taken pride in being a member of the Right Wing Conspiracy. Meaning no personal offense, it seems to me people who complain about labels are the same ones who are just a bit ashamed of the labels they choose to wear. Here's a new label; Constitutionalist. I now declare myself to be a "Constitutionalist" and I vow to support any party and any candidate that promises to restore it. Will you join me?

"...at all and look to the candidate, his record, and his ideas first, and worry about labels later. In my opinion, most good policy has conservative underpinnings, and I can readily see those when I read the policy - I don't need lip service about how conservative someone is. I want to see that through their action, not speeches."

Well, since I believe in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (absent imaginary penumbras, emanations and festeriums), I'm a Right Wing Extremist as well as a Constitutionalist.
Your a wordsmith George.
George- Absolutely excellent post! In one rebuttal post, you have said what many (myself included) have not been able to say in ten posts.

I am going to find a way to make a bumper sticker that says-

I now declare myself to be a Right Wing Extremist, and will support any party or candidate that promises to uphold the Constitution. Will you join me?

George Daily said:
"George, the Republican party isn't strictly a conservative party."

Yes, that's the problem as I've said. Voters get to choose between the crazy party and the stupid party.

"The Democratic party isn't strictly a liberal party."

Then I cannot imagine what your definitiion of "liberal" could be. Some Democrats may not be liberal but they may as well be since they vote that way and the result is the same. As mentioned earlier, 89% of Democrats approve of the President's national suicide policies. Either they are liberal or too stupid to walk about without supervision.

"Our party is a center-right party, and instead of fighting that, we should embrace it..."

This is an example of "gimblebabble." We should "embrace it"? What does that mean?

"...because there are honestly more center-right people in this country than there are center-left. But if we kick out the center, we're left with a rump that can't win elections and can't influence policy."

Good grief... You already have "a rump that can't win elections and can't influence policy." Your strategy and approach has already failed. Republicans aren't left with only the choice of "embracing" the center or "kicking it out". Instead, the Republican Party might "embrace" conservativism and work to attract the muddled middle. Does that require too much effort for consideration?

"You can't pin the loss of the last election solely on McCain."

I didn't. I wrote, "Republicans, if they'd only had the stones for it, could have nailed Democrats to the front door of Freddie Mac..." Even as inept and ineffective as McCain was, he was belatedly right on taxes, energy and terrorism. Republicans could have swept the elections if they could have and would have gone after the Democrats for the political scandal that is instead known as the "financial crisis". Congress is corrupted beyond redemption. Democrats and Republicans divide the spoils. So, too many Republicans were too busy looting for themselves to interfer with Democrats looting at Freddie and Fannie. Too many Republicans were acting as you would have them act; cutting deals, horse trading, compromising and looking the other way. When the music stopped, too many Republicans hid under their desks instead of exposing the Democrats and standing up for the people of this country.

"The entire environment was bad, both economic and political, and there was significant voter fatigue from having Republicans in control for so long."

Fiddlesticks. There was a significant lack of action on a conservative agenda and a significant lack of agressive promotion of conservative principles, a significant amount of complacency about reforming the Congress and a significant sense of urgency about looting as much as possible before the next election.

"Sometimes losing clenses the political pallet and lets us rebuild stronger than we were before. That's what I'm hoping is the result of 2008."

Gimblebabble. There is no substitute for victory. Let's see... After FDR's election, Republicans failed to win a majority in the House for 45 years. Think the political pallet will be cleansed by 2053?

"I'm not advocating hypocrisy at all. I just wish that we, as an electorate, wouldn't force our candidates to become hypocites in order to get elected."

No one is forced to become a hipocrite. That's a choice.

"But when we base most of our decisions about their stances on issues that they will rarely, if ever, have to decide in office, what do we expect?"

Honesty. Many or our local politicians are going to run for state offices, then federal positions and possibly the presidency. Bob McDonnel will run for the Senate when he's term limited, that's how it works.

How does Bob McDonnell's stance on abortion matter when he's trying to handle budget deficits? Why spend so much time on it?"

I'm not spending any time on McDonnell's stance on abortion. Democrats, not Republicans and liberals, not conservatives are obsessed with abortion. Abortion is the law of the land accoriding to the "emanations and penumbras" of the Supreme Court and that's that. However, Democrats are not content with that outcome and are constantly working to expand abortion however and wherever possible. It's bad enough that Americans have lost their right to decide political issues like abortion, they must also give up their daughters to state control and pay to abort babies both in the United States and around the world. What's the right-center position on spending $309,000,000 of federal taxpayer money on abortions in the U.S. and $400,000,000 on abortion overseas? Is that a Supreme Court mandade? 'Cause I can't find that provision in the Constitution.

"The only reason I call myself a moderate is because I don't want to be accused of being a 'traitor' to conservatism when I don't follow blindly all of the tenets that have been erected over the years. Frankly, I wish we would stop with the labeling..."

Why? I've always taken pride in being a member of the Right Wing Conspiracy. Meaning no personal offense, it seems to me people who complain about labels are the same ones who are just a bit ashamed of the labels they choose to wear. Here's a new label; Constitutionalist. I now declare myself to be a "Constitutionalist" and I vow to support any party and any candidate that promises to restore it. Will you join me?

"...at all and look to the candidate, his record, and his ideas first, and worry about labels later. In my opinion, most good policy has conservative underpinnings, and I can readily see those when I read the policy - I don't need lip service about how conservative someone is. I want to see that through their action, not speeches."

Well, since I believe in the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States (absent imaginary penumbras, emanations and festeriums), I'm a Right Wing Extremist as well as a Constitutionalist.
It has been interesting reading the direction this discussion has taken. I notice for example that all of the comments have related to the first point I made regarding ideology. Yes it is important but so are the other two points regarding party loyalty and campaign organization. Many of us fail to appreciate the importance of these two issues. It is much easier to reach an ideological accomadation with someone in the nominating or platform development process if you trust them. And runnign stupid campaigns hurts everyone.

I've often felt that much of our "ideological" divisions in Virginia were more reflective of the fact that Conservatives felt moderates were not holding up thier end of the bargain in terms of supporting candidates and moderates felt conservatives were deliberately forcing the party and its candidates to take public positions even the conservatives knew would result in defeat at the polls. So would the more doctrinaire ideologues be more willing to tone down the rhetoric if the moderates were more supportive of conservative candidates and would the moderates be willing to provide that support?

And can we please get RPVA to hire some campaign managers who do not start micro-targeting in April?!

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