After the Tea Parties, it’s time for conservatives to take over the GOP

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich has been on TV a lot lately both commenting on President Obama’s blunders and promoting the Tea Parties taking place all over the country on April 15th. Newt is eminently quotable – and here is one of my favorites from him:

On the really big things it is repetition that matters. I think our leadership has to get back in the habit of understanding that if you truly want to have a dialog with America, with over 300 million Americans, you have to pick a handful of big ideas, you have to talk about them endlessly, and gradually, over time, you’ll build an echo effect and a resonance and the country will learn and you’ll have a genuine dialog.

In the spirit of repetition, let me repeat what I wrote just yesterday: It’s time for conservatives to take over the Republican Party.

I applaud the initiative that is going into the tea parties – but conservatives need to realize that it’s more fun to win elections. That won’t happen until we build a strong, principle-based political party that Americans find credible.

My colleague Cathy Santos has summed it up well by pointing out that not enough people are willing to do the hard work that is party politics. Think about it. People prefer the wonderland of think tanks. They enjoy Don Quixote-like ego-satisfying campaigns for high office that leave no lasting good in their wake. Or they prefer to join in the work of “issue advocacy,” which seldom secures substantial political ground.

With all due respect to those endeavors — Republicans are where they’re at today in large part because conservatives choose to play pretend politics and ignore the battle to control the organization that controls the ballot line – the Grand Old Party.

I’ve written about the consequences of this — and what has to be rebuilt – in a series titled “GOP 101.” The sad fact is that the Republican Party structure which exists to advance the principles outlined in its conservative platform has atrophied. Proof is all around us. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Quinn, Madigan and Cullerton.

And as I’ve outlined — anyone who pretends that Illinois GOP party chairman Andy McKenna hasn’t made things worse during the past four years isn’t paying attention or isn’t being honest.

Voters in this country won’t be reached through the media. Is that news to you? I’ve been listening to conservatives complain about the biased press for decades and I’m sick to death of the whining.

First, there is talk radio and the Internet. I’ve noted that talk radio can and must be improved in one key respect — few fail to see the potential of the Web.

Second, there’s something called the Republican Party. If ward, township, county — and yes, the state GOP — do their part — information will reach voters about policy problems and the right solutions.

The conservative message won’t be adequately disseminated without a genuine political movement called the Republican Party.

When platform-supporting voters don’t engage in party politics, vapid “Republicans” advance guys like Mark Kirk for our party’s leadership. When a guy who should be a Democrat is suggested for high office as a Republican, you know the party is in really bad shape.

Tea Parties are fun. They’ll get a lot of attention. But after the parties, some of us hope that participants will join in the real work of democracy.

Rank-and-file Republican voters don’t need any more stream-of-consciousness or misinformation blogs. We don’t need any more think tanks. We don’t need any more issue-advocacy organizations. We need a political party manned by committed volunteers raising money, recruiting candidates, and reaching voters.

Again, to repeat: I continue to offer specific, positive suggestions on how the party can be rebuilt and ground can be recovered.

For over twenty-five years independent conservative groups have tried and failed to make any lasting impact in American political life. It’s time to adapt – and build something lasting. After the tea party, participate in bringing life back to the GOP by crashing the party.

Up next: Tapping into “that something different” in the American fabric.