Good morning. Out Guest Dispatch this week is from South Florida Attorney Arthur Freyre. It is a great read. There was one point, however, that stood out. Arthur talks about avoiding the “messianic” leader if the GOP is to succeed in the years ahead. Indeed. It has been less than a week since the elections, yet the punditocracy is already talking up possible GOP candidates for 2016. GOP victories will be won if we focus on our core values and effectively communicate them to all voter groups, not with token rhetoricians. In my ancestral homeland of Cuba, focusing on slick speakers, rather than substance, gave them Fidel Castro. We also need to be a party that moves beyond weekend political warriors and yesterday’s technology. While the outcome of the election is not what we wanted, or as Arthur discusses expected, we have a GOP House and a majority of states with GOP Governors. That is a solid base to fight the good fight and advance solutions, hold the Obama Administration accountable, and lay a foundation for the midterm elections in 2014. — Jason Poblete
Post-Election Thoughts from South Florida
Arthur Freyre, Esq.
Boy, was I wrong. I anticipated a close Romney win. The signs were there: a bad economy, a President whose approval ratings were between 47%-49%, and the Redskins lost. There was no way that the President would get a similar turnout in 2008. There is no need to rehash last Tuesday. However, the fact that Mitt Romney got fewer votes than John McCain was surprising. As you can imagine, Republicans and conservatives got an important message-we need to make changes. Here below is the electoral map of Tuesday’s election on a county by county basis. What do you notice?
You will notice very few pure blue states. While there some states that are purple, meaning half of the state is blue and the other half is red. Then take a look at Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and even Florida-states won by Obama. You have a few blue counties that dominate a lot of red counties. Please do not misread this map as a way of stating that there was no problem with the election or with the messaging. Again, the fact John McCain got more votes than Mitt Romney should give us time to pause. With this map in perspective, here are some post-election thoughts:
Message matters: What is the core message of the Republican Party? Can you define it in such a way that is seamless? Unfortunately we have a lot of nice slogans, but no real message. As Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras explain in Built to Last, successful businesses “do not rely on any one program, strategy, tactic, mechanism, cultural norm, symbolic gesture, or CEO speech to preserve the core and stimulate progress. It is the whole ball of wax that counts…all pieces working together to create an overall effect that leads to enduring greatness.” Before we discuss the get out the vote programs, micro-targeting, and voter outreach, we need to address this fundamental issue-what is the Republican Party’s core ideology?
Collins and Porras defines core ideology is what defines who we are as Republicans. It describes “what we stand for, why do we exist, what we aspire to become, achieve, and create.” It is the only “sacred cow” that should not be sacrificed. We will live and stake our political careers with these principals. Our core vision consists of a free society where people have the opportunity to use their talents, skills in order to make a better society. To work through this concept, I would like to use George Weigel’s four freedoms as a framework. Those freedoms are freedom of religion, freedom from fear, freedom for excellence and accomplishment, and freedom from unpayable debt.
Freedom of religion: It is not only the freedom to worship at one’s church. It is the opportunity to live out one’s faith in a community without government intrusion or persecution. Unfortunately, the Obama administration views freedom of religion as the freedom to worship. Anything outside the worship service is fair game. Look at the contraception issue under Obama care. Notwithstanding Biden’s assertion that churches are exempt from the requirement, the fact is that the Catholic bishops along with other religious organizations, as well as small business entrepreneurs whose faith is an essential part of who they are and how they conduct business are suing.
Freedom from fear: There would not be enough space in this post to discuss the issues of national defense or foreign policy. But there is one issue that can be discussed: immigration. We need to have an effective immigration program, which addresses the process of becoming a citizen in an efficient manner. Our citizenship is a privilege, not an entitlement. As some have suggested, any discussion of immigration needs to discuss the issue of assimilation, which has not been addressed by either party.
Freedom for excellence and accomplishment: The Republican Party should be the party of entrepreneurs and not big business. We are the party that is not afraid of competition. We need the party of review, reform, and reduce. We should initially review our tax codes to see what tax policies are burdening small businesses and families. The next step would be to reform our tax code and eliminate those burdening tax provisions. The same approach should be taken for the voluminous federal regulations that burdens businesses. Regulations do have a role, but we need to make sure that it does not unduly burden businesses.
Freedom from unpayable debt: Government has a duty to be good stewards with the people’s money. This means that government needs to look at what it can honestly accomplish. It needs to recognize that it cannot solve all the people’s problems. It means that our safety nets are there to help people get back on their feet and not become a spider web that sucks the incentive and energies out of them. It means looking at agencies and ask what is their core functions. If those functions can be resolved elsewhere then we either merge agencies or disband them. By doing this we begin the process of reducing the debt. I do not have a family yet, but I shudder to think the debt that they would be assuming. What we are doing is criminal.
Expand the map: Looking again at the map again, it is frustrating to see that the voters of one major city separate a state from becoming a red state or a blue state. We do need to be more effective in the cities. In order to do this we must make a concerted effort to reach out to one particular group of individuals-those who seek to live in a free society- a society that gives them the opportunity to succeed or fail. The vision of America is of people who are judged by the content of their character, not on the basis of wealth, class, or ideology. Our job is to find them, recruit them, and keep them. The message of opportunity resonates with all regardless of ethnicity and culture.
Avoid the “messianic” leader: Right now, it is very tempting for Republicans to seek that charismatic leader. Collins and Porras classified leadership in two types-the clock builder and the time teller. The clock builder is the leader who works on building on the core principals of the business. He is the one that leaves a legacy that others can build upon. The time teller is the charismatic leader or the one with the “big idea” in which the company rides “the growth curve.” When the growth curve ends, the company is at a loss of what to do next.
In terms of today, Republicans need to find clock builders-leaders that will build on the vision of our core principals and build upon them. The worst thing for the Republican Party is to have a charismatic leader-one whose leadership is based only on the strength of personality. Our main focus should be on the vision. How we explain it, how we define it, and how we defend it.
We will be living in some interesting times. We cannot jettison our core principles. We do need to adjust our message in the way it is presented. We failed because we did not make a compelling case. It will be times of frustration, but we cannot despair or become cynical. To do so would make us no different than the Democrats.