GOP2 Reflections on the GOP Convention by Richard Eber

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By Richard Eber, California Political News and Views  

Wandering around the Republican Convention as a reporter was a new experience for me. Having been a decline to state voter since Bush Jr’s second term, I was expecting with Donald Trump’s victory last fall, this place would be a hot bed of political activism.

Was this reporter ever wrong? The GOP confab reminded me of a 1950’s costume party.  All that was missing were “I like Ike” and “Nixon’s the one” buttons.

After witnessing what transpired at the GOP confab, what contributed to my negative assessment of Republican’s ability in California to remain relevant?

On the top of my list:

  • The Party is running victory laps for their accomplishments in the past four years. Chairman Jim Brulte ran unopposed for another term while during this period 302,000 fewer voters registered as Republicans. What’s wrong with this picture?
  • In both houses of the State Legislature less one third of the members are now from the GOP. This renders them virtually useless of having any influence in formulating policy. Arguably, aside from selected lobbyists, liberal Governor Brown, with hard core progressive wack jobs in charge of the legislature, has become the defacto leader of conservative thinking in Sacramento.
  • Not one Republican has been elected to a significant state office or to the US Senate in a decade. Even worse under the new primary rules where the two top vote getters qualify for the November ballot regardless of party affiliation, conservative alternatives are not even contemplated by voters. (Example Harris vs. Sanchez for US Senator)
  • Outside of San Diego, the Central Valley, and sparsely populated areas of Northern California near the Oregon border, the Republican Party has all but disappeared. Republicans now comprise less than 25% of registered voters. Except for talk radio stations, the conservative cause is in an MIA mode.

Those attending the GOP Convention seemed to be oblivious of this reality. The tight security there was hardly necessary because this group wasn’t important enough to garner attention from anti-Trump protesters, The Occupy Crowd, and the other usual Marxist suspects who normally picket these types of meetings.

Most of the liberal news media present was not interested in doing any more than collecting a 30 second clip of Representative Darrel Issa’s unremarkable speech for the six o’clock news.  How dull?

Who in their right mind would want to write an article on the Young Republican contingency? Clad in three piece suits, the GOP of tomorrow reminded one of the fraternity guys John Belushi terrorized at the conclusion Animal House.  A few fringe groups ranging from tax reformers to the Gay Log Cabin Republicans manned booths downstairs at the Hotel providing some energy. But in general, there was nothing much happening of any substance to tweak the media’s interest.

Inside the confines of the Hyatt, the folks attending this event could easily have passed (save a few people having dark complexions) of being delegates at the American Independent Party Convention.  How in the world can such an organization such as the GOP pretends to be relevant in a diverse State like California when Latinos, African Americans, and Asians were virtually absent from the proceedings?

These ethnic groups should have been present at the Republican convention in large numbers. Instead, most of the delegates were the same folks who show up at speeches held at country clubs where those present are basically talking to themselves. Doesn’t the hierarchy of the Republican Party know that without pro family Hispanic, Black, and Asian support, they are doomed to failure?

Donald Trump, who the State Party hierarchy tepidly backed, knows better.  Much of his appeal in winning 60% of the 50 States came from his desire to initiate policies to break the cycle of crime, poverty, and hopelessness in the inner cities. He was the first Republican in a generation to overcome the Democrats monopoly of “identity politics”.

Putting the interests of legal residents first, especially in the areas of education and reducing governmental regulations to promote job growth, played a large role in him winning the Asian voting block by a large margin.  He also received more support from African Americans than most Republicans garner, as Hillary Clinton was to learn on November 8th.

With the concerns of minority voters cast aside, where does the Republican Party in California stand on issues such as high taxes, school choice, cap and trade, urban planning, transportation, water, pension deficits and other hot button topics?  If the truth be known Jim Brulte and the leadership of the Party can be found in the declines to state category on these matters.

How has this “silence is golden” strategy been working?  The results speak for themselves.

For the last couple of years I have tried to ask these Republican leaders about what issues are important to voters? During this time I thought that the non response received from them was because of me being a hack blogger. At the GOP Convention I was to learn that ignoring the press was not only encouraged, but has been a policy of theirs.  It would seem only candidates and office holders are qualified to discuss substantive matters with the 5th estate.

This contrasts to similar functions held by leadership of the Democratic Party where participants battle, to see what faction can be more progressive than the other.  But for their Republicans counterparts, substantive issues are seldom mentioned under the auspices of promoting party unity.

The end result is that perspective voters in California don’t have a clue when it comes to what the GOP brand stands for in the Golden State.  One would think this “ignorance is bliss” approach was working,  judging from the way delegates in Sacramento were acting.  They were high fiving one another like Publishers Clearing House had just knocked on their door with the Prize Patrol!

Given the dismal performance of the Republican Party for the last decade, it was like giving General Custer a special commendation for his superior military strategy at the Battle of Little Big Horn.” All logic seemed to me to be on hiatus from the pages of a Bertrand Brecht Theater of the Absurd play. Were these guys for real?

Later a friend told me not to be so disgusted for what I witnessed in Sacramento.  He reminded me that the Republican Party is now financially solvent and is on a course to make major strides in the coming years.  Thank God! I thought if they call what I witnessed progress, what might their mood have been if things had not gone so well?

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.


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