I’ve been told that an engineer approaches the design process by first asking a simple question: what problem needs to be solved?
Obviously the political application of that is clear: not enough Americans are receiving the right information about what’s amiss in public policy and how best to solve the many problems facing us. This is the case when it comes to nearly every issue at the local, state, and national level.
Some people think one or more independent political organizations will rise up and reach enough Americans with what’s the best cure for the nation’s ills. Many politically minded people think this way because they keep forming new organizations, non profits, and political action groups. There are also Republicans who await a GOP version of Barack Obama — a person who can give people goose bumps and get them to blindly follow.
Still others think that somehow the media will change its stripes and begin to serve the valuable public purpose of providing news and accurate information without bias. A few folks even think that our current Republican elected officials will soon achieve an epiphany and begin to govern once again in line with the founding principles of limited government and traditional values.
I’m not holding my breath.
We need better leaders — but we also need a troop surge of new Republican recruits to the field of action to insure that those they elect actually follow through and seek to advance party platform based solutions.
It’s going to take both better leadership and a real party structure to effectively carry the message. As Ken Blackwell wrote here, Republicans — “must explain how conservative principles — expressed through bold policies — will improve people’s lives.” It will take a lot of Republicans pitching in if that information is going to reach and convince a majority of Americans.
Two examples: How many of our friends, neighbors, and family members truly understand how we got into this economic mess and the best way out of it? How many Americans know how the health care system should be reformed?
Of course there are issues that are ripe for reform. Tax simplification polls well, as does school choice. But we have yet to see the construction of a Republican Party that is even up to the task of successfully advancing issues already enjoying public support.
That’s why we need more Americans to engage in the fight. Specifically, we are inviting participation in the political process by getting involved in local GOP organizations.
Some Republicans around the country are already engaged in building a meaningful party.
There is no one quick fix. The struggle ahead will require the help of many rank and file Republicans. If the left wing interest groups, liberal media, and massive Obama political organization are going to be matched, it will require conservative troops by the tens of thousands helping to build a Republican Party that doesn’t just resemble the local private country club.
It’s my personal opinion that few Republicans are willing to face the enormity of the problem. The left has kicked our rear in so many facets of outreach. Just take one example here in Illinois: they run the K-12 public school system.
Consider the workings of over 800 public school districts. How many school boards have a majority of people who understand education or how to manage a sizable financial operation? At best only a handful. The proof is in the bloated costs and mediocre test scores.
If you think some Republican candidate for governor — or even a dozen state legislative candidates can cure this mess you’re sadly mistaken. Genuine school reform — to stay on this one issue — won’t be achieved until conservatives get serious about the political process and build a real political movement.
In 2009 our Illinois Republican Party continues to resemble an EPA Brownfields project that has yet to see a clean-up crew. At this point — without a change of leadership at the top of our party — expect the 2010 general election to look just like 2006’s.
Rod Blagojevich’s federal trial won’t make any difference since the Democrats are well on the way to stealing the reform issue from Republicans. If you think tax increases are the death knell to Illinois Democratic Party control in this state, you don’t know Illinois.
Cook County and the City of Chicago have experienced many tax increases through the years. Republican Governor Jim Edgar raised taxes and got reelected. Property tax increases have rarely ever impacted school board elections.
People must be presented a credible alternative, and for too many years they haven’t been. It’s expected that Illinois General Assembly Republicans will not make a serious attempt to rally the public against an income tax increase this spring.
That’s the bad news. The good news is with your help, the Republican Party can clean itself up and new leaders can arise on our side that will be serious about fixing the bipartisan created policy mess that is the Land of Lincoln.
Up next: Message and Messengers.