A week ago, I finally threw in the towel and changed my voter registration from Republican to No Party Preference. This was hard for me to do but I feel that it was time.
Several factors contributed to this decision. First, the Republican Party is dead in California. Second, it’s dead in the area where I live. Third, I’m tired of the personalities left as leaders.
Before I begin, let me preface by saying that I’m not a Ted Cruz supporter that is having a tantrum. I am a proud supporter of Donald Trump because he seems to have a spine. I’m tired of Republicans that retreat at the first sign of opposition. Their first impulse seems to be unilateral surrender. As a group, they have no core.
Rush Limbaugh always castigates the Democrats for using the same old playbook; unfortunately, Republicans are guilty of the same thing. How many times have you heard one claim the mantel of Ronald Reagan because he is for less government, lower taxes, more freedom, and favors small businesses…at least until they get in office? Unfortunately, that is all the depth that most have. They have no vision, no real answers, and no clue how to positively counter the Democrats. All Republicans end up being is the Party of “NO”.
Republicans have no vision for what the world would or should be like if they ran things. Look at Congress. John Boehner was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives when the Republicans became the majority. Instead of passing legislation that they thought the President would veto and directly challenging President Obama—and thus setting-up a difference between what the two parties wanted for the country—Boehner did nothing. He famously said that we are one half of one third of the government; thus excusing his legislative ineffectiveness. Silly us, we believed Boehner and elected a Republican majority in the Senate too. Guess what? Legislatively, nothing changed. If anything, Congress became more feckless and ineffective. Boehner proved that Republicans were part of the problem. Paul Ryan has continued to be ever more incompetent.
The Republican Party is dead in California. Demographically, this fate was assured when George Bush (the first one) agreed to closing the military bases in California after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Tens of thousands of conservative voters were no longer living in the state any more. Lockheed, Boeing, and other defense contractors left the Golden State as a result of the base closings. This demographic shift created a political shift as well that tilted the scales much more towards the Democrats.
At the same time, the Machiavelli tactics employed by Barbara Alby and her hostile takeover of the California GOP also contributed to its decline. Participation of volunteers, activists, and donors steadily declined. Barbara and her fellow travelers gutted the GOP and ran roughshod over those in her way. Ironically, this was done in the name of Jesus Christ. Somehow, the question of “What would Jesus do?” never occurred to her or those in her camp.
Barbara characterized her takeover of the California Republican Assembly and later the State Party as taking the Party away from the enemy and casting out those who were not with us. She did this with the sword and not the love of Christ. She wanted political power and used the evangelical churches as her base of operations to launch a guerrilla action to capture the CRA. In retrospect, it would have been better for her to either takeover the CRA in a straight-up way or start her own GOP group.
For example, when Barbara captured the Sacramento-Sierra Republican Assembly, she showed-up at the last minute with seven hundred paid memberships—almost all from folks that had never been to a CRA meeting—and she then elected her slate of officers. The existing members were forced out of the group; none were allowed even minority representation on her board. At the time, there were five CRA chapters in Sacramento County. The other four folded. Barbara took over their charters so she had even more delegates for the statewide convention. Members of these four smaller groups were from the local Operation Rescue organization. Once she had control of the state CRA Board, the other four chapters were collapsed into her unit.
The situation in Sacramento County’s Republican Central Committee is just as bad. Conservatives took over the group in the Alby era and then gave-up control. In 2006, a new conservative movement was begun with the Support the Platform PAC. This group was involved in trying to elect people to the Placer and Sacramento County Republican Central Committees. The efforts in Sacramento County resulted in the election of Sue Blake as the Central Committee chair.
Electing Blake as chair was an unmitigated disaster. I encouraged Blake to do something that would have been revolutionary; have the Central Committee create a county platform. The GOP brand was damaged nationally and also as a result of failures at the statewide level (Arnold Schwarzenegger.) I hoped that having a separate identity would inoculate the county party from being defined by the actions of others. My proposal was simple: “What would Sacramento County be like if Republicans ran it?” I wanted to give us a vision to work towards as well as a positive reason for voters to pick Republicans. This idea was greeted with laughter and dismissed out of hand. Blake’s advisor, political consultant Duane Dichiara told me that it was their job to elect Republicans, what candidates believe is up to them.
As the GOP faded in the county, Blake chose to erect barriers to participation in the Central Committee and adopted Dichiara’s advice to model the new bylaws after the San Diego bylaws. As a result, the Central Committee viewed itself as a private club with a pay-to-play membership fee of $100 annually. (Remember that most Central Committee elections were on the ballot every two years and even those that won by a vote of the people in their district were denied the right to vote unless they paid this $100 fee.)
In addition, no new business could be brought up during a meeting. Everything must be prescreened by the Executive Committee. The County Party became insular and unresponsive to voters. Meetings were no longer public. They claimed the right to eject anyone. When California voters adopted the top two primary system; this benefitted Blake’s regime by abolishing elections every two years.
The Central Committee cratered under Blake’s leadership. Last I heard, she finally threw in the towel on being the Chair.
Oh, during her leadership in Sacramento County, all Republican office holders in the Assembly, Senate, and Congress were defeated and replaced by Democrats. Republican registration in the county declined and the county is lost to the GOP for at least a generation if not forever.
Locally, the GOP club that I used to belong too—until I changed my registration—has decided to stop working to elect Republicans due to the 14 percent registration deficit and opted to work on local races. Unfortunately, the President has decided to spend his time backing a school board candidate that is wholly unqualified. The candidate is 21, and has yet to attend a single school board meeting. Yes, he took out papers to run but doesn’t even know what the job is.
If this is the future of the GOP, then I need to spend my time doing other things. When I was 18, I voted for Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton on the same ballot. Both men have left their mark on the political scene. I think I’ve done my penance for voting for Clinton—he lost in 1980 by the way.