David Wilson lives in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Most people are frustrated with, and even angry about, the two-party system. It’s even worse when you’re frustrated and angry at the party you belong to. Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud to be a conservative and a Republican (in that order). I grew up in the Democrat-dense state of West Virginia in a family of Democrats (I’ll contend that West Virginia Democrats are closer in ideology to Maryland Republicans than they are to Maryland Democrats, but that’s a discussion for another time).
From a conservative voter’s perspective, the GOP in the DC Metro area is simply…there.
As a voter, I do my own research and make my own decisions; I make the effort to vote for the person and not for the party. Now, here’s what I expect from my political party: leadership, guidance, and support. Do YOU know who the GOP leaders are in the area? Governor Hogan, whose at-times questionable leadership makes him less of a conservative than former Governor Ehrlich, doesn’t count.
If you think you’re a leader, but no one is following, you’re just out for a walk by yourself.
I spent 23 years on Active Duty with two combat deployments. Leaders establish goals and objectives and everyone down to last man/woman knows what their goals are in order to succeed. They know what their role is to make the mission a success.
From a conservative Republican candidate’s perspective, the GOP in the DC Metro area is ineffective at best. Over the past year or so, I’ve began asking a simple question to individuals and to groups where I attend meetings. I ask,
“What are the top three priorities of the Republican party?”
The responses are interesting. They’re sad, but interesting. No one knows. Sure, I hear things like “the economy” and “jobs,” but I never hear the same three priorities, EVER! That’s a leadership problem.
Republicans find it easy to laugh at and to make fun of a teenager from Sweden or a Freshman Congresswoman who is already so well-known we need only to know her initials. Yet they find it difficult to consider what caught Democrat voters’ attention and to speak to the issues half of America is concerned about. The “Green New Deal,” in my opinion, is absolutely ridiculous, but at least they have a plan.
What plans do Republicans have to tackle environmental issues? If you have to Google the answer, you’ve made my point!
Now, try being a candidate in the DC Metro area. I encourage good people to run for office. I encourage them to focus on Statesmanship, not Politics. It’s not an easy task, nor should it be. However, it should be easier than it currently is.
Leaders at the top need to:
- Ask the difficult questions and establish what success looks like.
- Set the standards for candidates.
- Establish a system and a process to really, truly support candidates.
The first difficult question is, “Can we win?” Leaders at the top should be constantly collecting and analyzing data to identify districts that are winnable. Again, in my opinion, we shouldn’t even run a candidate unless there’s a chance to win. Governor Hogan came close to this strategy when he established the “Drive for Five,” which was an effort to balance the Maryland General Assembly. It didn’t work, but at least it was a valid plan (sort of). Maybe it’s my military experience, but if I need five, I’m identifying 15 and putting a significant effort in to winning every single one.
What do we do in the districts if we don’t have candidates?
- You educate the voters.
- You register new Republicans.
- You begin to balance the odds.
It may take one, two, or three election cycles, but it must be done. This all starts by establishing specific goals. Nothing too complicated, but goals that speak to the issues of all voters. Know what affects their lives. Know it by district. Know it by county.
Why should hundreds of new candidates pay to obtain data the top leadership of the party should already know? I actually asked that question when I was a candidate. The answer, true or not, infuriated me:
“There’s too much money involved in running and supporting campaigns.”
I say all this knowing how much support the leaders in my district provided me during my campaign. In fact, after speaking with candidates from other districts, my district GOP team was quite admired for their support. We have years and years of experience in my district and lots of wonderful volunteers who dedicated hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of their personal time. And yet the result was pretty much along party lines. It wasn’t for lack of trying and it wasn’t for lack of a plan; it was a lack of registered voters who actually cast a vote for their party.
I’ll stick with my earlier comment about being better off spending time to educate and register voters, rather than putting candidates on the ballot. But a drastic move like this takes real leadership. Real leaders who can develop a strategic plan and who know what success looks like. Real leaders who can think for themselves, can cast a vision for the voters, and can excite the public by properly identifying and solving their problems.
The GOP doesn’t have to step up in the DC Metro area. They do a good job now. But good ain’t great. And to Make (or Keep) America Great Again, good ain’t good enough. Lead, follow, or get out of the way!