Another Perspective

Reorganizing the Community

A party in retreat should feel obligated to try out some new ideas that might broaden its appeal.

By 2.6.13

Last week the Republican Party had a retreat, presumably to re-treat some of the issues which have been forcing them lately into making retreat their default position. If anyone was looking for an idea, a single solitary idea, from outside the box, they are now stuck deciding whether to laugh or cry.

As is generally the case, only politicians were invited to present policies and proposals. Thinkers and writers need not apply. Still, in the naïve belief that an idea might be considered from an outsider I developed the following presentation.

CAUTION: ACTUALLY ORIGINAL POLICY IDEA

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OUTLINE OF BOLD INITIATIVE TO BROADEN REPUBLICAN POLITICAL BASE

Project CARE: COMMUNITY ADVOCACY REPUBLICAN ENDOWMENT

PROBLEM #1: The Republican Party has shown a consistent inability to build a strong base among blacks and Hispanics. It is hard to envision a long-term future for a major party without such bases.

PROBLEM #2: The Republican presence in black and Hispanic districts is so non-existent, they usually do not even contest those Congressional seats.

PROBLEM #3: The only way for blacks to become Republicans in Congress is by winning white districts, because black districts vote reflexively Democrat. Hispanics are in a similar situation, with the exception of Cuban areas. This keeps the number of black and Hispanic elected Republicans embarrassingly low.

PROBLEM #4: As long as the caucus of elected Republican minorities is minuscule, it reinforces the image of a party inhospitable to those groups, thus curbing potential recruitment.

RESOURCES: At this time, the Republican Party controls the majority of state governments. However, on the Federal level, it only has the House of Representatives.

PARAMETERS FOR SOLUTION: To make a big difference, a plan needs visibility in the black and Hispanic areas. It could also benefit from national exposure.

The approach would have to show a believable concern for the plight of those communities without sacrificing party principles. It would have to demonstrate tangible benefits to those communities over time.

PROPOSED SOLUTION: To create a legion of shadow Congress people who are Republicans, appointed rather than elected.

IMPLEMENTATION: In each of the 200 districts won by Democrats, we name/hire a “community advocate” for the same $174,000 salary given to Congress people, but without any perks. Where a serious candidate ran and lost, that candidate is offered the job. Where there was none, we do an accelerated search to find qualified people.

These advocates will open offices in the district to field inquiries and requests from constituents. They will advertise that they are there to help people from the district obtain assistance from Washington, D.C. Republicans in Congress will liaise closely with those individuals, helping facilitate their ability to be helpful to individuals.

For the most part these advocates will reflect their neighborhoods. Now you suddenly have a large caucus of blacks and Hispanics “representing” those districts. If word gets out they are really helping people get things done, you now have good will for the party being spread out among a large group of “advocates,” giving a whole new impression of the party.

Traditionally, the majority party lets the minority party’s representatives look good to their constituents by using clout to get things done. Yet in recent years Democrats have become much less gracious when they have control.

Republicans, when taking control, figure they gain nothing by clipping the wings of Democrat Congressional offices. They will only be badmouthed for being mean to minorities. But if they are providing their own direct assistance to those constituents, they need not fear being branded insensitive. They can make it harder for Democrat representatives to pull strings and set things up so people quickly learn it pays to approach their advocates.

PUBLIC RATIONALE: Why should districts without a Republican Congressperson not have access to the services available to the majority party?

ANTICIPATED ATTACKS: This idea is so obviously dangerous to Democrat domination of their “home territories” there will certainly be concerted resistance. They will call it an outrage against the Constitution, undermining the election of representatives. They will try to convince citizens not to use the services of these advocates.

PRICE TAG: $40 million guarantee first year. This includes $35 million in salaries to these advocates, assuming about 200 at 174,000 per.

Fundraising will rely heavily on major visionary donors of the Pickens – Koch – Adelson – Marcus class at first. Once it becomes a visible success, website donations and Viguerie-type small-donor fundraising should become a key factor.

Eventually most of the advocates can be spun off into self-financing entities in the way a sitting Congress person manages a campaign fund.

FINAL THOUGHT: “In the box” thinking has not made a dent in these problems. It is time to not only go out of the box, but to blow the damned thing up and rethink approaches on all fronts fearlessly.

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About the Author

Jay D. Homnick, commentator and humorist, is a senior editor of The American Spectator.