08 July 2013

Parts 2 and 3: Political Parties and election tools

I started this post back after the 2012 election, and worked on it again some more last March.  It fits well into what I wanted as parts 2 and 3 of my series, and I didn't feel like I could chop it up.  So here it is.

I've been in politics far too long for my age.  If you'd like to read about how I got here, check out the "About Me" page.  The short of it is this: my mom has said time and again that she knew I'd be in politics since I was very young.  I was lucky enough to be homeschooled so my education could be geared towards that end.  I volunteered for the Republican Party for the first time in 1998, as a 9 year old, and it's been all downhill since.  I spent my high school years as a volunteer at the Colorado State Capitol.  I've volunteer far too many hours doing many things, particularly walking more precincts than my feet care to remember for more candidates than I could list.  And, as if that wasn't bad enough, I got into the management and consulting side of politics.  In other words, over the past 15 years, I've done more in politics than most people do in their entire lives.

Politics is frustrating, annoying, disheartening, disappointing, and down-right obnoxious most of the time, but somehow the masochist in me keeps coming back for more.  It's made me incredibly jaded, which is a sad thing to say for a 24-year-old, but it's true.  I'm a pessimist by nature, and have become increasingly cynical, which doesn't help much.  It does help me, however, to be much more realistic than the starry-eyed folks I often come across in politics on every side of the political spectrum--those kinds of folks annoy me more than anyone else in politics.

I've always been a Republican.  My parents were always Republicans.  My great-grandmother's grandfather was a Republican President of the United States (Benjamin Harrison).  This Party runs through my blood, very literally.  I haven't always been the "type" of Republican I am today, that's been quite a journey in and of itself, but this Party has always been my home.  Politics in general, and the GOP in specific, have also allowed me to meet most of my dearest friends... and my husband.  And, while I have yet to find someone I agree with 100%, I've found many allies and like-minded individuals along the way, so it isn't all bad.  I've had victories and losses, and learned much more by doing than I ever would have in a classroom.  Politics, strategy, and sometimes even my political philosophy, is an ever-evolving beast (the latter often because I've come to a better understanding of an issue rather than my mind actually changing about it, though)--but it's always been based on one thing for me: core principles.

Limited, Constitutional government.  
Free markets.  
The rule of law.  
Personal responsibility.  
NO EXCEPTIONS.

If I can agree with you on those issues, we can be political allies.  If I can't agree with you on them, we might still be able to be friends, but I don't compromise on those issues--and that hasn't ever changed, nor do I see that as being likely to happen in the future.  I believe there is, theoretically, room in the Republican Party for people who disagree on a whole slew of issues, so long as they can agree on what makes us all Republicans.

Except...

That no longer seems to be the case.  Those in power in the Republican Party keep pushing us closer and closer to the "middle"--or more specifically, closer and closer towards big government--and many have become out and out Progressives.  That is simply not acceptable.  We haven't had a truly limited government Presidential nominee in my lifetime.  Even Reagan, the paragon of "conservativism," wasn't totally limited government.

I'm all about a big tent, but without a foundation, that tent will just flap around in the wind.  And we wonder why we continue to lose in Colorado--something we've been doing badly since 2004.  It's not the message, it's how we message it.  It's not needing to catch up with the Democrats and their strategy, technology, etc. (we're 10 years behind them on that as it is, and yet we still use 30+ year-old campaign strategies), it's needing to surpass them.  It's not that we should move more to the "middle", it's that we should rebuild the trust in our brand that has been so thoroughly tarnish, people are leaving the Republican Party in droves--not because it isn't center enough, but because it isn't limited government enough.

At this point, I'm fairly sure my opinion of what's going on (and has gone on) in Colorado is no big secret.  Nor is it a big secret that the "elite" in power and I don't get along at all.  I can't imagine why, since I like winning and they seem to like losing... over and over and over and over...

And that's just it--the bottom line.  They keep losing.  Some of us on the ground--the ones they despise--have started winning.  We beat their "moderate" candidates in primaries.  We have been, slowly but surely, taking over spots of leadership in the Party.  But they don't want us in the Party.  Many have told us as much.  Sure, they try to look welcoming and preach far and wide about being so open to everyone, but anyone in the Republican Party who is not in lock-step with the Karl Rove types knows just how "welcoming" they are--and what they do to you if you don't agree with them.  Case in point.

It is beyond my ability to comprehend that those at the top still haven't figured out why they are losing, either.  Could it possibly be that they keep doing the same thing over and over?  That people keep leaving the Party as it moves more and more towards big government?  That their candidates suck?  They truly can't be that stupid... can they?  Worse yet, some people are so blinded by "power" and "access" that they continue to elect these buffoons to "lead" us into another electoral disaster--which makes them equally culpable in those future losses.

We can't afford that anymore.  By we, I mean WE THE PEOPLE.  Parties are simply tools.  There are many tools in the political arsenal.  I am, by no means, under any illusions that any third party is a viable option right now--let's be honest, the numbers just aren't there.  But I'm also tired of being taken for granted, kicked in the teeth, and ignored by a Party that is supposed to represent ME.

I haven't left the Republican Party (yet), but the Republican Party has left me--and I'm not the only one they've left, either.

I've been saying for quite some time that the results of 2012 would determine my affiliation in some form or another with the Colorado Republican Party.  The State Party Chairman's election back in March was an extension of that, and just proved once again that the Republican Party, especially in Colorado, is not only the Party of Stupid, but the Party of Insanity (per Einstein's definition).

While I make up my mind about future Party affiliation (the new deadline being 2014, proving once again I'm just a sucker for punishment), let me be perfectly clear about one thing: the GOP does not have my "loyalty".  Party does not trump principle.  My vote must be earned, and trust must be rebuilt.  Right now, the Republican Party is nothing more than a tool to elect limited government candidates when we can get them through the process.  It could be much more.  It should be much more.  But it won't be anything but that until there is a paradigm shift in leadership and attitude.

Everyone in the Colorado State Republican Party leadership is part of the problem, and the majority of the State Central Committee who put those people (two of the three back there, one is new) in power are entirely culpable for the results of the 2014 election--for every single loss we suffer.

Any win a Republican in Colorado might have will be entirely in spite of the Party, not because of it.  We can't take a losing strategy, dress it up in lace and pink bows, and expect it to be anything other than a hideous monstrosity that will also continue to drum up more of the same--sustained losses in this state.  I've seen absolutely no indication that this Party, under the leadership of a loser, Ryan Call, will go in any other direction than continued losses across the board.

We have other tools in our arsenal to advance liberty and limited government ideals besides just the Republican Party.  We need to start making better use of those, because continuing to rely on the Colorado Republican Party is na├»ve at absolute best, and, as far as I'm concerned, just plain stupid and insane.  The Party can't help us anymore, it's simply one of the many tools (and essentially only there now for ballot access).