As the Republican party struggles with its worst identity crisis in years, it’s worth looking at how county central committees in the state are coping — or not.
This is a good “case study” about embracing change, no matter what your politics.
In our county I don’t see much of a “growth” strategy for the local GOP: For the most part, the same “old guard” is holding court with the same ideas. It’s more of a social club: Playing poker is still a big deal.
The county GOP should reinvent itself: recruit more “new blood,” become more inclusionary, and target younger people and “decline to state” voters, a growing rank here and elsewhere.
It also could take a cue from what the GOP is doing in Sonoma County, a rural place whose demographics — political and cultural — have changed over the years not unlike ours. In both places, liberals are more of a political force.
The Sonoma County GOP has some cutting-edge ideas. It consistently has the highest turnout of Republicans of any other county in California, too.
The group has stood up to the leadership of the GOP and adopted a more libertarian, independent stance.
This idea has “legs” at a time when the national GOP is struggling: Senator Arlen Specter just jumped ship and some sectors think Rush Limbaugh is a persuasive leader.
Critics have created a new mascot for the party: The Goposaur.
But Sonoma’s Central Committee is undaunted:
•The group is financially independent from the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party.
•It does not receive any money from the RNC.
•It has its own bylaws and standing rules.
Its views speak to a growing rank of people, here and elsewhere:
“I’m a conservative first,” wrote “Pink Elephant Pundit” blogger Tabitha Hale, whom I profiled on this blog. “I ended up with the GOP simply because, like most conservatives, I tend to vote with a lesser of two evils mentality.”
The Sonoma County GOP is no shrinking violet, either: It took a bold stand and censured Gov. Swarzenegger for “terminating” his own tax pledge.
“The media is touting President-Elect Obama as the ‘transformational’ political figure of our time; but they are unjustly overlooking an extraordinary political transformation that has occurred right here in California,” the group said.
“Schwarzenegger, who began his political life as a tax-cutting reformer . . . has reached across the aisle and found his true niche as just another, run-of-the-mill tax and spend liberal.”
The group’s stand has been well received.
“Based on the post election exit polls, this action by the Sonoma GOP is exactly what Republicans should be doing,” RedCounty.com wrote last November.
“This speaks to the loss of support by McCain and Republicans for over-spending and over-taxation. Will other counties follow suit and stand up to the leadership of the GOP?” it continued.
The Sonoma County GOP also supports HR 1207, libertarian Ron Paul’s bill to audit the Federal Reserve.
Whether you agree with the politics or not, the Sonoma County GOP is a good example of a political group that has not been afraid to embrace change to “grow its business.”