GOP 101: Personnel – A housecleaning is in order

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If you’re wondering why more good people aren’t stepping up to run for office in Illinois as Republicans you need not investigate any further. The reason is that talented individuals typically won’t join a dysfunctional statewide GOP organization. I pointed this out in part one of this discussion of personnel.

Smart, successful people won’t waste their time joining a losing political party any more than a quality athlete wants to be signed by a team with a history of defeat.

Too much of what constitutes Republican politics today falls into two different categories. Whether you’re talking about a congressional seat, a county government, a state legislative district, or a county, ward, or township GOP organization – often what you have is comparable to a private country club or a pathetic fiefdom.

Neither of those things tends to invite – let alone welcome – the volunteer efforts of people who can add value.

So, the discussion about personnel isn’t a secondary issue – bad players have plagued the IL GOP for a very long time. The Republican Party isn’t in bad shape in Illinois because Democrats here are so smart or are offering such great policies. Dems run the show because Republicans are mostly led by people who should have left the stage long ago.

As reform-minded Republicans begin to raise questions about the effectiveness of their local organization, some will no doubt be accused of “disunity” or “divisiveness.” The fact is Illinois Republicans are where we’re at simply because our leaders have failed to lead. Pretending otherwise wastes everyone’s time.

The last thing the old guard wants to hear is a call to arms – a call for volunteers – or any talk about cleaning house. But a house cleaning is what’s needed at the state party level and all too often within local parties.

We need better people stepping up to serve – people who are in it for the right reasons and willing to submit to a metric. If the party doesn’t accomplish its goals then it should revamp and try anew. If it fails to try, or then tries anew and still fails, the leaders should do the honest thing and step aside.

I will keep saying this until it no longer needs to be said: Republicans will not be able to take advantage of the myriad opportunities presented by Democratic Party failures as long as our own party is a mess.

Blagojevich-Quinn-Durbin-Burris et al continues to present us with the same kind of ridiculousness we’ve seen from the Obama-Reid-Pelosi led federal government. Their failures, however, won’t guarantee Republican success.

To take power Republicans have to get back to the basics. It’s all about reaching as many people as possible using all available means. Any sustained outreach effort includes the fundamentals of door to door, mail, community presence, and web.

Republicans must build the party structure with good people. This party structure must serve as a support system that will encourage more talented individuals to run for office.

The unfortunate reality is that too many Republican “activists” have thrived financially – either in their careers or in simply holding onto power – and thus couldn’t care less about implementing platform principles through legislation.

In Illinois, the problem even extends to the grassroots level, where local or state government employees get involved with the party not to help build a strong, vital organization, but to preserve their job. The result is that more often than not the bad players (activists and leaders) are enabled. By the way, don’t think those bad players don’t appreciate the useful idiots – they do enormously.

Two more related points to conclude this discussion of personnel. First, right now there isn’t much of a “bench” on the Republican side. I’d venture to suggest that most of the good future candidates our party will field are probably not yet involved in politics. The only way such a bench will be built is if the GOP becomes the kind of resource and support system that it needs to be.

I have no doubt that many Americans – many Illinoisans – give thought to possibly serving in public office. I also have little doubt that as they think about it, they’re deterred because of the daunting challenge that running for office would be.

Even those with personal funds and extensive contacts see the political arena as a foreign field. A vital Republican Party organization at the state and local level would help dissipate that strangeness.

Surely, better people would step up because they would see that the volunteer rich, talent laden local GOP would be the kind of asset required for them to tap. The talent is out there – it must be found. The money is out there – it must also be found. Ways to reach the public need not be reinvented; they only need to be utilized.

Second, long ago the Democrats realized that they could use government employees and union members and the radical left wing interest groups as a standing army to win and hold power.

Much of this is being maintained at taxpayers’ expense. Author David Freddoso referred to what the Democrats do as constructing and utilizing “corrupt systemic arrangements.”

Republicans will have to rely mostly on an all volunteer force, so the need to build the GOP is not an option. We need to organize a sufficient force that can not only retake power, but then govern properly.

A strong, growing political party can be the home of a “government” in exile until victory is won on some future election day.

Up next: Defending and promoting the party platform.

©2009 John Francis Biver

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