Is the GOP going to be able to once again compete?


By Richard Eber

I think it was Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall fame who once quipped “Vote early and vote often”.  While such advice should not be taken literally today, it is a good illustration of the enthusiasm political parties should have in getting their supporters to participate on Election Day.

In California, the Democratic Party has done an excellent job in recruiting new eligible voters to join their ranks.  At country fairs, civic events, and anywhere a large group of families congregate, a table can often be manned to recruit new members to their organization.  Often times, members of various labor unions can be found on the ground pressing the flesh as Democratic representatives.

In addition the party of Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, and Gavin Newsom, can be seen reaching out to young voters in the schools and to racial minorities whenever possible.

To put this in actual numbers twenty years ago Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a margin of 6,858,806 to 5,227,013. Declined to state and other party affiliations were less than 18%.  At that time electoral politics in California were considered to be in a dead heat because members of the GOP voted in greater numbers than their competitors.

Since then the roof has caved in the Republican Party. They now have less than a quarter of eligible voters in their ranks.  At the same time Democrats have maintained about the same percentage as before.  The biggest change has been the growth of decline to state voters from 1.84 million to over 5 million today.

This disparity is increasing each day with new participants in the political process being registered automatically by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) when new driver’s license applications are being processed. Ironically, almost half the people at DMV in declaring their status weren’t sure what if any political party they belong to.

Why such a major change in voter registration totals in The Golden State.

  • Democrats have done a better job of actively signing up new members
  • A general disgust of both political parties (especially by young people) has resulted in the rise of the decline to state column which is now the second largest voting block in California
  • The total ineptitude of the Republican Party in California under the leadership of Jim Brulte to recruit conservatives and independents to join their ranks.

According to the Brulte/ Charles Munger model, the sole purpose of the Republican Party is to do fund raising for candidates.  Such thing as taking a stand on issues and recruiting new members to their ranks has been left up to regional GOP organizations to accomplish.  This methodology is totally out of touch in 2018 given the total defeat of the party n every category from Governor to City Councils.

Gavin Newsom’s successful campaign was centered on reaching potential covers hearts and pocketbooks on the internet.  He sent out more than 250 pleas for assistance (mostly redundant) during the last five years.  In contrast Jim Brulte and the GOP sent out one message 10 days prior to the election asking for donations to assist the campaign of John Cox.

Even with the disparity of Newsom outspending his opponent 10 to 1, Cox received almost 44% of the vote.  One wonders what might have happened if Republicans worked just as hard and smartly as Newsom did.

With no party platform or direction to the rank and file, the Republican Party is a rudderless ship in a static state. Support of Donald Trump at times has been at best “luke warm”. How can new and old voters alike be expected to register as GOP members when they don’t know what the party stands for?

Even worse not one Republican was victorious seeking a state post in 2018.The closest they got was electing former GOP member Steve Poizner as Insurance Commissioner.  The only problem is that he renounced being a member of the party and is now registered as declines to state.

Things are so bad that in the US Senate Race, two liberal Democrats incumbent Diane Feinstein and progressive Kevin De Leon faced off.  There is a considerable amount of bitterness from the primarily where third place finisher conservative James Bradley, with practically no money, almost came in second place.  It is widely believed by knowledgeable observers that if the State Party put any effort into financing Bradley’s campaign, he could have advanced.

While it is unlikely Bradley could have defeated the 85 year old Feinstein, he could have had a field day talking about her chauffer for 20 years who was a Chinese Spy. Let’s not forget Di-Fi’s conduct during the Kavanaugh hearing, and the questionable financial dealings involving her husband Dick Blum.  The fact is because of the ineptitude of the Republican Party, voters were robbed of an opportunity to have a real choice in this election.

Being in the M.I.A. category in statewide elections for Republicans is of minor consideration compared with the dismal state of the State Assembly and Senate where the Republican opposition is well less the one third of total members.  This is very serious because with the GOP having so little power, progressive legislators such as Antony Rendon, Scott Weiner, David Chiu, and Toni Adkins, can do just about anything they want.

It is sad to consider that ultra liberal Governor Brown has ended up in some cases being a moderating influence over some of the zany bills passed by the legislature. Republicans have almost no influence in the Capital. It has gotten to the point where Lobbyists, have more power in creating new legislation than GOP lawmakers.

Although Jim Brulte and his supporters in some cases tacitly supported Donald Trump in 2016, this does not account for the vacuum of power that has been created by their failures in electing Republicans. Were it not for the weakling status of conservatives, would Jerry Brown and his progressive buddies been able to gain support for the Sanctuary City Movement or abolishing I.C.E.?  The answer is emphatically “no”.

What to do.  If the Republican Party is to survive and provide a viable alternative to Democratic rule, they will have to find a new chairman who will not only recruit new voters and candidates carrying the GOP label, but will have to put forward a platform that contrasts to the current Progressive agenda that is ruining to the state.

This means voters knowing that Republicans stand for:

  1. Public employee pension reform
  2. Gas tax revenue going directly to road improvements
  3. Reduce bureaucratic regulations that make any sort of land development or manufacturing process more costs.
  4. Stop Sanctuary City policies and trying to do away with ICE.
  5. Improve public education even at the expense of stepping on the toes of the teachers unions
  6. Increase housing starts by reducing government regulations and making more land available for development.

This sounds like a mouthful but things can change quickly in California, especially an economic downturn occurs.  One thing that is essential is that the GOP spread their message to growing numbers of Hispanics and Asians. These groups with their strong devotion to family, conservative values and improved education opportunities for their kids are a good match to Republican values.

What is badly needed is to find new leadership to deliver this message.  Republicans as a group will either step up to the plate or perish. Should they “screw their courage to the sticking place”, the GOP will face the possibility that another political party will emerge to provide opposition to the Democratic monolith currently in power.

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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