3D Failure — How the GOP Is Losing California

Michael Shires
Associate Professor of Public Policy, Pepperdine University

California’s Republican Party is losing ground dramatically across the state. In the Fresno Bee, John Ellis describes how it is even failing in one of its last bastions of power-—the Central Valley. There are three dimensions to the collapse of the party of Ronald Reagan in the Golden State, and all three reflect a collapse of leadership at the highest levels.

First, there is an abject failure to reach out to the youngest voters in the state. With high schools and universities dominated by union teachers and left-wing professors, there is a serious vacuum of clear messages about what the party stands for in the youth world. There is a near-total absence of youth and energy in the party’s outreach plans.

Last week I was at the Ventura County Fair and the Republican Party and Democratic Party booths were across from each other. The contrast was harsh. The GOP had three life-sized cutouts of Reagan, Bush and McCain and was manned by two white elderly volunteers sitting behind their desk. It was very quiet and bland. The Democratic booth had banners, color, flashy give-aways, campaign posters, buttons, bumper stickers and a young, ethnically-diverse staff aggressively stepping out and speaking to passersby. Which of these is more likely to tap into the energy of our youth?

Then there is the outreach to the Latino community. A while back I wrote a column on townhall.com arguing that Republicans needed to reach out to Latinos to remain vibrant and viable. The response from many Republicans? Stop pandering! Why should they matter? We need to kick them out! And a few more that shouldn’t ever be replicated. In a state (and eventually a nation) where the population is increasingly Latino, a party characterized by such attitudes will eventually become extinct.

We need leaders (and yes even Latino leaders) who are willing to carry the Republican Party’s pro-family, pro-entrepreneur message to the Latino Community in the state. It is not a hard reach. Yes it would even be nice to have some Spanish-speaking candidates (I can’t wait to get the emails on this point) who can directly speak to many of the state’s hardest-working citizens and retirees, many of whom are disenfranchised because they don’t subscribe to the views of the heavily left-leaning Democratic Party, but also don’t feel welcome in the party that does match their commitment to family, freedom and safety.

Finally, there is the consequence of a crumbling, disorganized state GOP infrastructure and leadership—the exodus of conservatives, both fiscal and social. Almost anywhere you turn in conservative communities, people who hold the conservative values of the Republican Party are fleeing the state to other parts of the country where being a Republican is still “politically correct.”

Can we stop them from leaving? Of course not-—only a Democrat would propose a government solution to a problem such as that. But, with energized leadership and a commitment to growing a vibrant party rebuilt around a positive vision for freedom and opportunity, more conservatives would likely stay but and be willing to be a part of the culture war that is being waged today.

California is becoming younger, more Latino and more secular. The GOP has completely missed these three trends and is now reaping the consequences of a leadership structure that, for 20 years has struggled to keep the status quo. Now is the time for the Party to completely rethink all three of these dimensions and step forward to rightfully claim the legacy of Lincoln and Reagan. But something has to change and soon, or else it won’t matter—there won’t be much of a Republican Party left.

Comment on this article


Please note, statements and opinions expressed on the Fox&Hounds Blog are solely those of their respective authors and may not represent the views of Fox&Hounds Daily or its employees thereof. Fox&Hounds Daily is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the site's bloggers.