Thursday, November 29, 2012

Falling in Love or Falling in Line?

"Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line." 
(James Carville, Rolling Stone, 12/6/12 edition).

Since the November 6th election, the Republican party has been pulled in multiple directions by the same individuals and groups that have been pulling it in multiple directions for a number of years now. Our party platform even reflects this dynamic, both on a national and state level.

It's time we Republicans in the Republican Party put our foot down, take charge and seize control over our own party message, which has been long hijacked by a combination of radio and television personalities, political action groups, those claiming to be "conservatives" and others.

Consider some of the various outside sources:
  • The infotainment personalities on radio and television who prattle on with extreme views and positions. Everything is a fight to them, everything is a crisis, and they never pick and choose their battles. They are astounded when those same extreme views and positions that are adopted by certain Republican candidates lead to election losses;
  • Those who claim to be conservative while espousing Libertarian Party views or Constitutional Party views, and then refuse to vote for Republicans who do not completely agree with their particular philosophies. They decree who is conservative (themselves) and who is not (everyone else). How many Libertarian Party candidates win election to office? How many Constitutional Party candidates win election to office? They too are astounded when their particular views and positions lead to election losses;
  • The various Tea Party and Patriot Groups who use the Republican Party for their own unyielding agendas and purposes, and only casually support the party. To them, a step by step or building block approach to a goal is a non-starter. They are astounded that their unyielding positions and casual support of Republican candidates leads to election losses;
  • Those single issue groups who demand total adherence to their positions from Republican Party candidates, then are astounded when such total adherence leads to election losses;
  • Those who form their own "Republican" organizations and only support Republicans who narrowly meet their narrow views, which I call political vampire groups, and are later astounded when such candidates suffer election losses. My prior postings about these vampires appear here, over here, and again over here.
There is a pattern here. There is a pattern of infotainment personalities, single issue groups, Tea Party and Patriot Groups, and conservative third party groups cluttering up the basic Republican message and pushing it into extremist territory. And their post election chatter is identical. "If only they had followed our positions without exception, those candidates would be victorious today."

Except that the majority of voters generally identify themselves as being moderates, centrists, and middle class.  Even if they vote differently. Extremism from the left or from the right generally guarantees that candidates espousing such views will have trouble getting elected, and trouble getting reelected. Unless they are in "safe" gerrymandered Democratic or Republican districts.

So I'm no longer buying into that philosophy of 'if only they had followed our positions without exception, those candidates would be victorious today." It's time we questioned it.

One only needs to review the Democratic television advertising, mailings and talking points to see the Achilles' Heel of our party.

On a national and local level, Democrats attacked Tea Party and Patriot organizations, citing some extreme positions and portraying them as racist and against progress. They then linked  moderate Republicans like Congressmen Robert Dold and Judy Biggert to these groups and to fellow Congressman Joe Walsh, an avowed Tea Party adherent. Accuracy had nothing to do with these attacks. Democratic polling showed them to be an Achille's Heel. Ask newly elected Democratic Congressmen Schneider and Foster, just to throw out two such examples.

Democrats also effectively used single issue positions on abortion, gun control, gay marriages and taxes to distort our message and to attack all Republican candidates running for office. 

Moderate Republicans faced attacks from what I call vampire political organizations and single issue groups. The classic attacks were the ones on Dr. Arie Friedman for State Senate. While the Democratic Leaning Personal PAC attacked Friedman as taking extreme positions that would let women die, the Republican Illinois Family Institute attacked Friedman for not being pro-life, but a pro-choice candidate. Dr. Friedman was pro-choice. The Illinois Family Institute didn't attack Julie Morrison, his opponent, for having more liberal views on this subject. They attacked only the Republican. So a doctor would deliberately allow his patient to die and lose his license to practice medicine? Both vampire political groups were ridiculous when it came to Dr. Arie Friedman's candidacy. Julie Morrison must be extremely thankful these days.

That type of nonsense has to stop. It's one thing to have a Democratic leaning group attack a Republican. That is part of the election process and can be rebutted. But a Republican leaning group also attacking the Republican candidate? There are countless examples other than Friedman's that can be cited here.

Adding insult to injury, Democrats just didn't run attack ads. That would be an unfair statement. Democrats also positioned their candidates as being concerned about fiscal issues who were against waste in government and were pro ethics. That sounds pretty Republican at first glance.

And most importantly, Democrats nationally and in Illinois were able to run away from their pathetic fiscal records of governance by diverting the attention of the electorate back to the confused messages of the Republican Party.

Voters ended up not trusting Republicans this election. And why should they have trusted us? Our message was all across the board, being pulled at or distorted by certain Republican leaning organizations, certain Republican candidates for office, and certain infotainment types.

So let's start reforming the Republican Party by letting Republicans be Republicans, letting Tea Partiers be Tea Partiers, letting Libertarians be Libertarians, and sitting down those Institutes, PACS and political vampire groups and telling them: "Thanks for your advice, we will consider it, but our decision will be based on what is best for the Republican Party." Our party needs to lay down some basic ground rules.

Let's also develop official public spokesmen on a national, statewide and county levels so the press can go to them for answers and explanations on true Republican positions, and not to Palin, Rove and others.

Let's thank all the infotainment individuals, Tea Parties and others for their support, but indicate to them that the Republican Party stands for basic Republican principles, and not allow outsiders to distort or pull those principles and messages into something that can be misconstrued or be made to look ridiculous. Like the right to privacy. Personal responsibility. Smaller more efficient government. A strong national defense. For Liberty and individual freedoms. And I'm naming only a few here.

And what is best for the Republican Party? The purpose of political parties is to win elections. To win elections we need to return to our basic messages and positions and not allow them to pulled to pieces by so-called fellow Republicans. To return to our basic messages, we need to take control over them.

Now is the time to fall into line.


  1. If people put the same energy into the Republican Party that they do into side groups, just think what a difference we would be making. If we would work against the Democrats with the same energy we take to attack other Republicans, we'd be winning more elections and attracting more people into the party. I am not against "side groups" but I am against them if they take away from party unity and think we all have to agree on everything and if our party chairman has to bow to them to not have them attack the central committee.

  2. Excellent analysis and proposals for moving forward, Lou. Very insightful and comprehensive.

  3. If the purpose of a party is to win elections, why are you arguing for telling whole swaths of the Republican coalition to shut up, sit down, and/or leave the party.

    Elections are won by votes, so why divide the party?

    To be sure, elements of the "extreme" right, think tank types, and/or social conservatives are guilty of the same thing, but the "tell them to get to the back of the bus" strategy is the path to electoral failure. The last 10 year are proof of it.

    As for "attacking other Republicans," there are valid reasons for doing so. A pro-tax and pro-spend Republican looking load up his district with government jobs is clearly a bigger threat to the party than any Democrat.

    As I've pointed out everywhere I go, a patronage republican (big spending, government job creating, etc.) splits the party more than any aggressive conservative.

    How? It's simple. The patronage republican splits the rent-seeking, butt-sitting, government jobs/crony republican (think Jim Thompson) from the productive taxpaying base that must fund such largess.

    Lastly, your wish to find "approved" (by whom?) spokespersons to relay the "Republican" position is laughable. The people responsible for that role are, and always have been;

    1. The powerless Jim Edgar
    2. The mostly powerless JBTopinka, and...
    3. Our stellar Party Executive Director, and the House and Senate minority leaders.

    These folks above, all decent people personally as far as I know, have a record devoid of any success over the last decade.

    Yet we are supposed "toe the line," and follow their tepid and unpersuasive "lead."


    Let's do this Lou. Lake County is an important key to any statewide Republican success. Why not have a series of forums debating not only you position, but also some of your concrete proposals.

    It's not that I disagree completely with your view, but it deserves to be fleshed out and debated.

    What are "Republican positions?"
    Just who should shut up and sit down? Name some names.
    Let's take this on the road and debate it out in the open. Let's discuss the people, policies, and personalities that you think are so damaging.

    I'm game if you are.

  4. Woo! Bruno "I'm a conservative first, Republican second" is trying to lecture Republicans. Seems like he didn't read Lou's article. And when Thompson and the gang was around, Republicans were in control of State Government. Under the Bruno logic, losing is preferable, and that's what has been happening for the last 10 years.

    Lou can outdebate Bruno on this stuff. Bruno better watch his step "and fall into line."