It’s the time of year when the local encampments of political parties boot out the old and welcome in the new, in terms of leadership, that is. There was an article in the Skagit Valley Herald this weekend about the changing of the guard at the Skagit GOP. It seems that the Skagit GOP keeps a pretty low profile so I always read the article when there actually is one. I don’t know of the media doesn’t offer much coverage or if they aren’t really doing much that’s newsworthy or if they actually enjoy their anonymity. You’d think they would see the obvious benefit in having the public know that they even exist.
“Conservative leaders here say President-elect Barack Obama and Democrats riding his coattails at state and local levels grabbed the youth vote with tech-savvy campaigning and promises of the good life. Now, they say, it is up to conservatives to learn from their losses as they regroup and reorganize for the future.
‘I think the mechanics of the Obama campaign were stupendous,’ said new Skagit County Republican Party Chairman Bob Eberle, 72, a La Conner resident and former state representative. ‘And I think the Republicans better learn from that. They have got to get into the modern world.'”
That sounds promising.
“Not only did Democrats beat Republicans with better online campaigning and fundraising, Eberlesaid, they also won out because Republicans strayed from traditional conservative values: protecting the pocket book, acting ethically, holding regulation at bay and protecting the nation. Only on the latter did the Bush administration and Washington, D.C. Republicans succeed, he said.”
So we’ve been hearing this kind of trouble-shooting since November 5 but he is on the right track. No problems there. The thing that really resonates with me about Chairman Eberle’s statement here is that he puts the responsibility for GOP failings squarely where it belongs–with the Republican party. But when we get to the quotes from the out-going chair–that’s when we get a little insight into what’s been on the mind of leadership for the past four years.
“Ann Marie Humphreys, who just stepped down after four years as the county’s party chairwoman, wants to return to those same values. But it will be a challenge, she said, because young voters are not as galvanized around conservative ideas as they once were.
She said many first-time voters were drawn in by Obama’s youth and by what she calls his ‘socialist’ or ‘communist’ ideas.
‘We have a country that is turning on a socialistic scale, and in the process of doing that, you have young people that are going over to the other side, hand outs,’ she said.
Humphreys, 68, said children are being ‘brainwashed’ in universities and even high schools to be socialists and communists and, in short, to vote for politicians like Obama.
‘Everything is handed down to them that they do not have to go out to work,’ she said. ‘… The parents are not allowed to reprehend without the children saying, ‘Don’t you put a hand on me. I will report you to the police.’”
Hmm…where to start. I’ve read similarly incoherent quotes from former chairwoman Humphreys in prior Herald articles. Those incoherent quotes that I’m thinking of also had the same condescending tone towards younger voters. Maybe the reporter is taking her out of context…hopefully the reporter is taking her out of context.
“Annmarie Humphreys, chair of the Skagit County Republican Party, blames the youth for the election results.
‘You had the youth out this time like you’ve never had before,’ Humphreys said. ‘Young people haven’t been around long enough to know that a person is more than an individual standing up there and speaking.’”
Insulting younger voters is not the path that the Skagit GOP will successfully take towards re-building. Chairman Eberle’s first action as chair should be to make sure that former chairwoman Humphreys has no further contact with the media. Either she has a penchant for making ridiculous, inarticulate statements or she’s giving the reporter way too much divergent material, thus making it more likely that she’ll be taken way out of context.
When you blame a segment of the voting population for the outcome of an election, you’d better be basing that on something concrete. Just making a general statement about how the schools are turning all the kids into communists and socialists makes Conservatives sound negative, extreme and well…old.
In order to successfully renew itself, the GOP as a whole needs to articulate a clear Conservative message. They need to translate for the general public how the philosophies of Conservatism are relevant to how a lot of us live our lives. They need to talk of the free market, of individual rights and responsibilities, of reducing the tyranny of government. They need to make people understand how a more Conservative government would benefit them. And, they need to be a lot more savvy about what to say to the media and how to say it.