This week's post is offered amid the ongoing pall of disappointment (find a stronger word - ed.) with the election and the fiscal cliff. Foremost: think globally; act locally.
Some friends ask "What can be done to revitalize the Republican Party in San Francisco?" More ask "Why bother to try?" In the spirit of a New Year, with a new Central Committee embarking on a four year term, here are some thoughts:
San Francisco is to California as California is to the rest of the country - more Democratic; more liberal; a political establishment less tolerant of deviation from the accepted ideological orthodoxy. Republicans will not win many elections in San Francisco in my lifetime - the last Republican mayor was George Christopher (1956 - 1964) - but the manageable perspective is about setting reasonable objectives, branding, and strategy.
First, lets acknowledge reality: Registration is 56% Democratic, 31% "no party preference", and 9% Republican; in the 2012 elections, with 365,000 ballots cast (a high 72% turnout) Mitt Romney got 13% of the City vote, Jerry Brown's proposal to further increase the country's highest taxes got 77% of the vote, and the local Republican Party candidates (all very legitimate, if under-funded) got 12 to 17%. Losing comes easily to the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Republicans. But, viewed differently:
- There are important state-wide elections - governor; senator; ballot initiatives - where a few hundred thousand votes can make a difference, and there should be more loose votes lying around for Republicans to pick up in the Bay Area than in the Central Valley and Southern California where more people already vote Republican. With apologies to the political correctness police, it is kind of like the shoe salesman having a great opportunity in central Africa.
- There are non-partisan local elections and ballot initiatives involving common-sense good government concepts where special interests prevent the Democrats from siding with the voters - public employee pensions; school accountability; vagrancy; rights of property owners. A responsible Republican voice is needed.
- Much of the real government of the City is managed by boards and commissions - Police; Fire; Planning; Port; Airport. The public supports checks and balances to ensure integrity, and politicians will appoint Republicans if they see the Party as a potential factor in their elections.
So, what can be done? There are no quick fixes, but the groundwork can be laid now for 2014 and beyond:
- Promote a platform which stresses the issues that are important to the people of San Francisco.
- Figure out who our allies are - particularly in business - and establish or solidify relationships.
- Develop a media strategy which uses all of the tools available - newsletters; social media; presentations; interviews.
- Cultivate a fundraising base to support a fiscally conservative/socially moderate Party infrastructure.
- Recruit - Committee members; candidates; registered voters; donors.
- Plan the work; work the plan.
Sometimes keeping on requires a combination of hubris and naive belief in our fellow citizens. A majority must believe in individual liberty, personal responsibility, educational opportunity, support for job creators, and families. Even in San Francisco. We just need to speak clearly and loudly.
No video this week. Instead, please read this chilling David Brooks NY Times op-ed on the significance of the nomination of Chuck Hagel to downsize the military.
bill bowen - 1/11/13