Delegates at the California Republican convention this weekend heard a lot of ideas on how to bring the party back from its downward spiral so I thought I’d add my formula for recovery. Emphasize the “right to rise,” as President Abraham Lincoln called it, by focusing on the Double E: Education and Entrepreneurship.
There is no question that large numbers of minorities and immigrants have turned away from the Republican Party in California and tipped the balance of political power to Democrats. However, Republicans can reach those communities by appealing to their desire to improve themselves: The right to rise.
Improving the state’s education platform and the business environment has great appeal across the state’s diverse populations. With poor graduation rates and low test scores, it is clear the current education model is not working as it should. Republicans should concentrate on this area.
One example is the parent trigger law, authored by a Republican, to allow parents to alter the leadership of failing schools. Education is not a partisan issue. The leader of the parent trigger movement in this state is a Democrat. However, Republicans pushing for solutions to education problems will improve the party’s standing with the minority and immigrant communities.
Likewise, Republicans must explain to voters around the state why current policies hurt the growth of business. Many immigrants come to this country looking for a better life – one in which they control their own destiny. That desire can certainly be fulfilled through entrepreneurial efforts.
Lincoln succinctly encapsulated the entrepreneur spirit in what he called the “true system” in a speech he gave in Connecticut a number of months before being elected president:
I take it that it is best for all to leave each man free to acquire property as fast as he can. Some will get wealthy. I don’t believe in law to prevent a man from getting rich; it would do more harm than good. So while we do not propose any war upon capital, we do wish to allow the humblest man an equal chance to get rich with everybody else … when he may look forward and hope to be a hired laborer this year and the next, work for himself afterward, and finally hire men to work for him!
Republicans must explain why the barriers of regulations and taxes must be reduced to give everyone the opportunity that Lincoln advocated. Republicans must explain the difficulties of doing business in California that prompts governors from other states to recruit here and magazines to list the Golden State as one of the worst places to do business. Such arguments can also appeal to workers who simply want a job. California must reduce its unbearable unemployment rate.
The message must be delivered not through media advertisements but through human contact — face to face conversations within the communities so as to dispel negative stereotypes that some groups have of Republican goals.
Focusing attention on key issues that appeal across the board to all segments of California’s diverse population can spark a Republican resurgence. Offering alternatives to the Democratic formula of government run solutions will resonate with voters of all stripes.
If Republicans establish a context for their party around the “right to rise,” and concentrate on the Double E, education and entrepreneurship, they will have a message that they can communicate to a changing California because Republicans will be carrying a message of change.