The Massachusetts Republican Party finds itself at a crossroad. Save a few bright spots, we’ve experienced consistent defeats for far too long.
Some have suggested that Republicans in Massachusetts need to compromise convictions, give up core values, become more like the Democrats. Well that’s no winning formula. We’ve tried that failed approach. Look at the end result — 11% registration and across-the-board losses. Besides, the whole point of winning an election is to promote our policies. Changing our principles isn’t victory; it’s surrender!
It’s simple. What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working. We have an expensive office on Merrimack Street that is not accessible to rank and file Republicans, let alone the general public. When it comes to dealing with the grassroots, the MA-GOP has sadly earned a bad reputation for its hubris.
Changing the culture is the place to start. Arrogance and disdain can no longer be the rule or the exception. That expensive Merrimack Street office needs to be closed in favor of local storefront field-offices. Each location should be an outreach center staffed with interns and open to the general public, seeking assistance. Every call needs to be answered. Every message gets a call back. In other words the MA-GOP has practice customer and constituent service.
Without pandering, we need to start targeting new demographics. Hence, particular attention must be paid to immigrant and urban neighborhoods.
Presented properly, our message is simple and has broad appeal. We stand for The Dignity of Life, Individual Liberty, Family, Upward Mobility, Opportunity for All, and Personal Charity. But it’s not enough to talk about these things. Actions speak louder than words. We need to help people help themselves climb the socioeconomic ladder. Our field-offices should be ready to help everyone from local businessmen trying to cut through Democrat created red tape, to immigrants studying to become a citizen or seeking to learn English.
Republicans have always been a strong supporters of private charity. Hence, the MA-GOP should consider everything from establishing scholarships for less fortunate kids, to organizing youth public
Outreach must go hand-in-hand with a sound grassroots political strategy. Focusing virtually all our resources only on the top of the ticket, marquis candidate, has devastated the party. We must recruit and support good candidates for every office. Every race, for whatever office, (win or lose) must yield new voter data, new volunteers, new donors, and new prospective candidates. All the data acquired in one race, must be made available to help in the next race. Sharing this information must be the price candidates pay in order to receive support from the MA-GOP and local Republican Committees. We must start thinking and acting like a TEAM on a mission to win.
Electing candidates to municipal office must therefore be an essential component of our strategy. This builds the “farm team” and the ever-important ground game. Further, this affords potential State and Federal candidates the opportunity to campaign for municipal candidates in off years. Not only will they get themselves exposure, they’ll also earn the loyalty and support of municipals candidates, their volunteers, their supporters, and their donors.
Municipal elections also offer a unique opportunity to maximize manpower. Towns have their elections in the Spring, while Cities in the Fall. So local committees can virtually double their manpower, by having the City Committees assist Town Committees in the Spring and vice-a-versa.
Collaboration among Local Committees can also be furthered by creating a volunteer database. It should list people with various campaign skill-sets. These people can then be tapped for campaigns in various Communities in a local cluster. Eventually these databases can be merged. The end result will be the MA-GOP will have access to an exhaustive list of website-developers, social media experts, volunteer organizers, callers, writers, doorknockers, graphic designers. Name it. If a candidate needs someone with a particular talent, they’ll be able to find them in the database.
At a state level we must promote a strong statewide message. The best “contribution” the MA-GOP can make to individual candidates is an extensive media campaign, promoting the Republican brand and the need to end one party rule in Massachusetts.
Although few in number, Republicans in Massachusetts are not short on good ideas. Yet for too long the rank and file Republicans have been locked out of the process. Policy decisions have been made by a select few “experts.” The MA-GOP needs to start listening to other voices. Regional Chairs and State Committee members should meet with local activists to listen and discuss their ideas.
State Committee members and Regional Chairs know the districts, the candidates, the local issues, and demographics. Once a budget for local candidates is established, these folks need to be given decision-making power over how this money gets spent in trenches.
In short, we need to change our attitude, approach, strategy, and tactics. Not our conservative convictions! We need to put our Republican values into public practice. We need to prove to the citizens of Massachusetts that we know how to run a city or town, before we they will trust us to run the Commonwealth.
Once again we find ourselves at another crossroads. In January the State Committee will elect a new MA-GOP Chair. This will be the first of many important decisions. We can continue on the same old path, which has lead to political irrelevance or chart a new course to political influence.