Clearing Up the Confusion: What Actually Is the Republican Party?

To stay sane while working in Republican and conservative politics it is healthy to laugh when you can. One of the things that makes me laugh is when good conservatives get angry at that terrible awful nasty miserable thing called the Republican Party.

You have probably read the articles or heard the commentary about individuals leaving or threatening to leave the party. They are going to take their vote elsewhere until the GOP cleans up its act! And if Republicans aren’t careful, those very people are going to start a third party (that’ll show them!).

Their anger is in large part due to a misunderstanding of what a political party actually is. Many people have never had it explained to them, nor have they taken the time to learn about it on their own. They think a political party is an entity much like a global, mega corporation that is owned and controlled by nefarious people committed to doing evil.

If you need to, you might want to sit down for this earth-shattering revelation: the Republican Party is a volunteer organization recognized in statutes set up to consist of a ballot line and powers granted for the conduct of elections.

If that doesn’t satisfy the reader, a more detailed definition can be found at the website. Their definition opens with this: “[A] group of persons organized to acquire and exercise political power.” (Compare that definition with that of a corporation.)

When someone gets mad at the Republican Party (and there are many reasons to get mad), they are, in fact, mad at those people who have voluntarily joined and stepped up to run the party. The fact is, those people probably have a different agenda from the angry people. Well, duh.

Yes, the Republican Party at the national, state and local level typically under-performs (to say the least). Why is that? Now you already have the answer: the party’s effectiveness at all levels succeeds or fails based upon who steps up to lead and work in it. It is that simple.

Unlike a mega corporation with a moat and steel doors preventing entry, the GOP is open.

Of course in many places, the Republican Party organizations act as if they “don’t want nobody nobody sent,” and resembles an old boys/old girls network more than it does an entity organized to advance good public policy. The red carpet is not typically rolled out for new participants because often new blood is interpreted as a threat to the old guard.

That reality, however, does not prevent a group of citizens organizing over time to take over and revamp that local party.

It has been my experience (based on decades of experience) that few inside or outside the Republican Party truly understand its role or its potential. Years ago I wrote extensively on what state and local GOP organizations can be doing with the right leadership—that series can be found here.

Just because most GOP organizations resemble closed, vision-less clubs that have little or no serious impact in their areas doesn’t mean all is lost.

First, as mentioned already in this series, there is a growing movement to get more MAGA conservatives to join and help lead the party (like some of us called for a dozen years ago).

Second, and probably most important, is that a lot of what constitutes real election work can be done outside of the party in cooperation with the party where its leaders are open to that assistance.

Right now the Republican Party is a ballot line limited by those who have stepped up to run it. Less complaining and more participation from the MAGA crowd is what is required.

Up next: The Republican Conservative Industrial Complex Human Nature Problem.

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The Ground War ongoing series of articles can be found here.