As we head into the Thanksgiving weekend, it is as good a time as any to revisit the subject of the California Republican party, the problems and the solutions.
First, the apparent sweep of constitutional offices by the Democrats, the majority in the congressional delegation and in the state legislature did not happen overnight.
The fact that the Republican registration is going the wrong way did not happen overnight.
The lack of development of future Republicans for higher offices did not happen overnight.
The battle between the conservatives and moderates, well that will go on no matter what.
And that battle will be who wants to revive the party at all levels or give up, cut deals and hope for the best.
So, lets go back a few years.
2000 to be exact.
The California Republican party had just went through the same thing that it is going through now. A repudiation of the party as a whole.
In 1998, the Democrats swept through almost all the constitutional offices. Only Bill Jones survived and continued as Secretary of State. The Democrats gained seats in the state assembly (lower house) and senate. And in the congressional delegation. In other words, it was a nasty loss for the Republican party statewide.
By 2000, the state GOP was broke and desperate.
So, the leadership, elected and party apparatus, brokered a deal with the Democrats.
Unlike previous years when the Democrats tried obscene gerrymandering, all sides agreed to protect each other. No contentious court fights. All sides would be happy.
And fast forward to the present and, well that did not work out so well for the Republicans.
At the start of the decade, here is the breakdown at the state and congressional level.
State Assembly 2000 2010
D 50 52
R 30 28
D 26 26
R 14 14
D 32 34
R 20 19
Here is the lesson that should have been learned.
Don't cut deals with Democrats. Period. It will and is never to the advantage of the Republicans.
Even gaining a congressional district did not help the Republicans. And in the state assembly, they lost two seats.
Bottom line is that all that happened is the Democrats used the 10 year period to solidify their advantage and then start picking off Republicans. In all ways.
In 2000, registered Republicans accounted for 35% of all voters.
In 2010, that figure declined to 31%.
For the Democrats, in 2000, it was at 46%.
The Democrats lost two percent but account for 44% of registered voters.
But, unlike the Republicans, the Democrats have been able to leverage the decline-to-state voters to their advantage.
And the mild ebb and flow led to the Democrats keeping and or increasing their share in many areas of California.
So what about this redistricting.
Well, one of the few good things Gov. Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger did was get Prop 11 passed. It took the reapportionment out of the hands of the legislature and it is now in the hands of a citizens board. And with the passage of Prop 20 and the defeat of Prop 27, all reapportionment, state house and congress, will be in the hands of the board. The board will be drawing the districts to no distinct party advantage. It should increase seats competitiveness meaning this will be a chance for Republicans to make gains at all levels.
But, they will have to make a serious effort to reach beyond their base of Southern California outside of Los Angeles county, the Central Valley and inland Northern California.
It means that the first target needs to be Los Angeles county. There are some pockets of Republican strength. The northern part of the county and some areas in the east and south bay.
This is where the party needs to recruit and get people elected for city councils and or school boards. And while these are technically non-partisan offices, let it be known that the people running are conservatives and Republicans. The Democrats do all the time.
Why is it that few if any know that the mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, is a Republican? The mayor of Fresno, Ashley Swearengin, also a Republican? And the former Republican speaker of the assembly, Curt Pringle, is the mayor of Anaheim? These are three of the largest cities in the state. Everyone knows that Antoinio Villar is a Dem. Same with soon-to-be Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom. Same with Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento.
The Republican party must run as the Republican party. It must present candidates that are not wishy-washy. Again, when faced with a moderate Republican or a Democrat, the voter usually pulls the lever for the Democrat. At least they know that is the real deal.
Which leads to a huge problem for the California Republican party.
Thankfully, he is leaving office.
That problem would be the current governor, Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Gov. Benedict Arnold did not one thing to promote the party. He did not candidate recruitment. He never campaigned with lower-office Republicans when he had the chance. He talked of being "post-partisan". More like surrendered to the Democrat party.
Most of us that swallowed hard and voted for him not once, but twice, knew he was a moderate. Did not like to talk about "social issues" which means to the leftywhore media, abortion and same-sex marriage. Was very vague about many other issues.
In the end, as I have written many times, Gov. Benedict Arnold turned out to be former Gov. The Gray Era Davis. Only with a personality.
And, Gov. Benedict Arnold ended up supporting the very tax hike that ended the governorship of The Gray Era. That would be the hike in the car registration fee.
There is no point in electing one who claims to be a Republican and when one wins office, does nothing to help build the party.
That is the the legacy of one Gov. Benedict Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We need to set out to explain to the voters that there really is a difference between Democrats and Republicans. We must be clear and articulate. We must not let the leftywhore media dictate the terms of debate. We must not get off on tangents.
The California Republican party and it candidates need to say that we stand for smaller, efficient government. Less regulation. Less control of people's lives. Lower taxes. Hell, to reform the whole tax structure of California. That we believe in law and order. That we believe in creating opportunities for every citizen of California to move up the ladder. That we respect the dignity of every person as an individual. That "group think" is not the way to go. Except it be as a Californian and or an American. That legal immigrants are beyond more than welcome. That we need massive overhaul of education in this state. Promote merit pay for teachers. Increase charter schools. Provide vouchers for low-income families to help them send their children to successful private schools.
In other words, as a former governor once said,
Our people look for a cause to believe in. Is it a third party we need, or is it a new and revitalized second party, raising a banner of no pale pastels, but bold colors which make it unmistakably clear where we stand on all of the issues troubling the people?
That was then-former governor Ronald Reagan speaking to the 1975 gathering of the Conservative Political Action Committee.
He was right then and is right now.
If the California Republican party wants to be serious, it is going to have to make clear why people should register and vote for them. It can not be because we are not the Democrats. Or we are not as bad as the Democrats. Or that we only want to raise some taxes. Or slow down the size of state government.
It needs to stop looking for the quick fix. Whether it be Bill Simon, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman. It needs to start fresh and new.
There are real opportunities if the party is smart. It looks like there is hope in Tom del Baccaro becoming the chair of the state party.
Mr. del Baccaro hails from Contra Costa county. And he has led getting Republican voters out over many larger county parties. He is the proprietor of The Political Vanguard. He also is a solid conservative.
We have to start somewhere and that will be in leadership.
And we all have to know that there is not a quick fix. It could take the decade or less, depending on what we do as a party to be a real alternative to the Democrat behemoth now in control in Sacramento.