GOP 101: Message and messengers

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”  ~ Thomas Paine

Political consultant Cathy Santos has summed up best what the Republican Party is supposed to be — it’s a message and messengers. Those two words also get to the heart of what the Republican Party all too often isn’t — especially in Illinois.

For those of you who are new to the Party structure or who haven’t been around an organization with much of one, in the next few articles I’m going to present an outline. It’s not exhaustive — but it will cover the basics about what is generally seen as the role of the party organizations.

It’s abundantly clear from Republican fortunes in recent years that the Illinois GOP isn’t in good shape. Much of that is due to the fact that our nineteen member State Central Committee has been AWOL and our current and previous State Party Republican Chairmen have been completely useless, in fact destructive.

As we noted, few highly populated counties in Illinois went “red” in the last presidential election. The responsibility for fixing that belongs to all Republicans in the Land of Lincoln. We need to get our township and county parties in order — even as we fight to clean house at the top.

It’s obvious that not enough of the voters living in those counties got the message that what the Democrats continue to offer is an expensive version of “change you can believe in.” Bigger government, higher taxes, government managed health care, government run public schools…the list goes on and on.

It doesn’t matter how well the local Rotary Club or VFW or Moose Lodge is organized and run. But for those who’d like to see their government straighten up and fly right, it’s very worthwhile to understand what the local Republican Party is and what it should and can accomplish.

As with any successful endeavor, it comes down to personnel. With the right players, a team can win. Often in politics — while a lot of good people participate — the vision of our leaders is lacking, limiting what gets done.

The simple purpose as stated above is to raise a standard — lay out a set of principles — convey a message. This is typically accomplished through the party’s platform. When the content of the platform is ignored, voters eventually don’t understand the difference between the parties.

That’s certainly the case when it comes to our state government. Elected Republicans supporting tax increases, failing to stand for school choice, or advocating a massive expansion of gambling are ignoring their party’s platform. They should be honest about what they believe in and join the Democratic Party.

How the party’s principles apply at the local level make a difference as well. For example, there’s no such thing as a Democratic or Republican pot hole. But ideally, Republicans shouldn’t be involved with the Chicago style “hired truck” scandals to fill those pot holes.

Another example is your local bloated, ineffective, and inefficient public schools that are not managed according to Republican Party platform principles. How many voters in your community are aware of wasteful and excessive school spending on things like exorbitant pensions.

So what is that standard? How is your local party organization helping to carry the message?

The textbooks explain that a political party is an assemblage of people with similar ideas organized to win political support of those ideas. The practical application of that of course is registering voters and mobilizing them on election day.

But the work shouldn’t just take place during election season. In this information age, a revitalized party should be the political infrastructure that helps carry the message all year long. Local party organizations should invite participation, act as a watchdog over government, and assist candidates who seek to advance party’s platform.

As of right now, in most places that infrastructure needs repair. This is the problem in more places than in Illinois, of course, but first we have to be about fixing our own political back yard.

Up next: A working political party.