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GOP communication failure and the power of a volunteer political army

Nutty (to put it mildly) socialist playwright George Bernard Shaw was wrong about a lot of things, but in this quote widely attributed to him, he was right:

“The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”

Republican Party and Republican public officials are stuck in ignorance when it comes to how to move public opinion. The gigantic irony of that, of course, is that shaping public sentiment is their chief task.

If you’re among those who are waiting for the liberal media to carry our message, it’s time for you to give up on that dream. If you think talk radio and the Internet are enough—think again.

Conservative publications like National Review and the Weekly Standard and many others are valuable but for the most part they are read by those who are already in the “choir.”

The only way we’re going to reach beyond the ranks of the converted is by building the Republican Party into the kind of volunteer force it can be—and by employing private sector communications professionals to do what the political consultant class is incapable of doing. It will require new thinking and the use of all available means and methods all year long to get the job done. I’ve written more about this here and here.

The first 100 days of the Barack Obama Administration have been truly amazing. Hardly a day goes by without some wacky, radical, and/or dangerous action taking place that originates in our federal government’s Executive Branch. Even Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi probably have trouble keeping up with the examples.

Despite all that—note this (from here):

“A recent Pew Research Center poll found two out of three Americans saying that they were optimistic that Barack Obama’s policies will improve economic conditions in the country.”

Friends, understanding the coming negative impact of all this wild new spending and excessive new debt is not difficult, yet here we are—two out three Americans still don’t get it.

The political left has many advantages. Billionaires like George Soros are committed to spending their own money to advance social and economic liberalism. Paid left wing advocates dominate the media, pop culture, and the education industry at all levels. The list goes on.

The political right will always be dependent upon volunteer support. That isn’t a bad thing. (To watch an interesting talk click here: “The Puzzle of Motivation.”)

It has been my experience through a quarter century of political involvement that the best work gets done by volunteers. The reason is simple—they are in it for the right reason. Their motivation isn’t impacted by a need to make a buck, as legitimate as that need might be.

Conservatives who attempt to earn a living in the political and governmental arena are often given countless opportunities to rationalize bad decisions and misguided loyalties. Few people I know seem to be able to pass up all of them.

The good news is that the tea parties proved that more people with talent and passion have moved down from the bleachers and are standing at the sidelines just waiting to be called into the game. They shouldn’t wait for the GOP to issue the call.

A week after the tax day tea parties, though, many national political commentators are still groping for an answer to the question, “what next?”

Those of you who are reading this article, please consider passing on this suggestion to as many people as you know. Americans who are upset today—just as they were when the GOP was over-spending—need to help out with the critical day-to-day of practical politics by getting involved in the Republican Party. Outside of the party activities are fine but it’s critical to remember that the GOP has the ballot line and that’s where the power is.

This past Monday evening I had the great pleasure of attending the Kendall County Republican Organization’s monthly meeting. The leadership there is still new on the job—they over-threw the old regime within the last couple of years. Hopefully by bringing in new leaders of their own they’re building something that will put to shame other organizations that don’t follow suit.

There’s a parallel to be found in what now retired four-star U.S. Army General Peter J. Schoomaker said back in 2004 about what was taking place on the ground in Iraq:

“This is a game of wits and will. You’ve got to be learning and adapting constantly to survive.”

Our political leaders haven’t been learning and they haven’t been adapting. They’ve been losing elections and losing public support. That has to change—and the quickest path to having leaders who will be forced to innovate and change will be to have a serious group of volunteers not only helping them —but holding them accountable.

As bad as the Obama Administration is, Obama’s so-called personal style seems to have distracted from the reality of the damaging policies he’s pursuing. Platform supporting Republicans need to recognize this reality and crash the party and force the GOP to reach its potential to communicate a winning message to voters.

PostScript:

How many folks understand about health care what syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote here?:

“My own preference is for a highly competitive, privatized health insurance system with a government-subsidized transition to portability, breaking the absurd and ruinous link between health insurance and employment. But if you believe that health care is a public good to be guaranteed by the state, then a single-payer system is the next best alternative. Unfortunately, it is fiscally unsustainable without rationing.”

I can answer that without hiring the Gallup organization. The answer is very few people, despite the fact that the Republican Party has claimed to support consumer driven health care reform for many years.

©2009 John Francis Biver

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