What does your local Republican Party organization do? For people on the outside of politics, their understanding of what happens on the inside on a daily basis can be a bit vague (or completely non-existent). Even if you asked insiders, the answer you’d get would echo only the most basic: a local party supports candidates for election.
The next question is — how many times has someone from your local GOP knocked on your door? How many phone calls — or mailings have you received from them? I’m not asking about the individual campaigns of candidates — but rather how many times has the local party attempted to reach out to you?
Do you know who your their local party leaders are, whether or not they have an office, or what goes on in that office year-round?
Sure there are exceptions, where a township, ward, or county party has worked to create a presence in the community. Those exceptions prove the rule – to the point that even those Americans who identify themselves as Republicans have little understanding about what their state or local party organizations are up to.
Again — forget the candidates and campaigns. Have you been invited to participate or help out by your township, ward, or county organization? If you wanted to volunteer time or pick up information, would you know where to go or who to talk to?
Chances are if you live in the city of Chicago you know that somewhere nearby is the office of an alderman or Democratic Ward organization should you have a question or a problem in need of a solution. Unfortunately, we know from the media why that political machine exists — and it’s not to ensure good government.
At the local level most elective offices are non partisan, so some people would wonder about the necessity of a local GOP office. Around the country many local offices are non-partisan affairs — no R’s versus D’s. But don’t be fooled, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a Democrat whether the ballot identifies him as such or not. And it’s a safe bet your local library and school boards are packed with Democrats.
Many rank and file Republicans who have wanted to engage with their local Republican organizations haven’t exactly had the welcome mat rolled out for them. Your fresh energetic face might not be what they want to see barging into their little fiefdom.
It’s not necessarily that they’re up to no good — or that in the Chicago tradition — “they don’t want nobody–nobody sent.” Sometimes local party “activists” are just inactive, tired, or lazy. They wouldn’t know what to do with someone attempting to inject some life and energy into the group.
For some “active” Republicans, it’s too much work to attempt to actually fulfill the mission of the local party. This democracy thing is sometimes just too much trouble. It’s more fun to have the title of local party chairman than it is to do the work of reaching the uninformed and misinformed.
Obviously, when there is no welcome mat set out for would-be volunteers, you have several options. You can get involved anyway and seek to work within the confines of the faulty leadership until an “overthrow” can be accomplished by you and a group of friends who also want the party to work.
You can get involved instead in a neighboring organization. Sometimes your time and energy would be valued not far down the road. Residency in a township or ward isn’t necessary if the organization is active and accomplishing real things next door to where you live. Technically Republicans have no borders, and good organizations need all the help they can get — even if it’s from the town down the road.
There’s more to say on this next time.