Over the weekend I attended some local Republican conventions in Minnesota. Minnesota is a caucus state, which means that local grassroots activists have much greater influence in determining everything from the party platform to the selection of candidates to the execution of campaigns across the state. It is a terrific leveling force against the complaint that “big money” rules politics; unlike primary states where candidates run their campaigns largely through paid media, caucus states ensure that the people who truly care about the direction of their party and the quality of their candidates are heard loud and clear.
I was delighted to see excellent turnout at these local conventions in a non-election year. It was obvious to me that conservatives are motivated and focused on rebuilding the Republican Party in Minnesota. I heard lots of good ideas, substantive discourse on a variety of topics, and one overall message loud and clear:
The Republican Party is a conservative party, with conservative principles that we are not interested in leaving behind. On the contrary, the folks at these conventions believe (rightly so, in my opinion), that we need to do a much better job of adhering to our conservative principles and articulating the success of those principles to the rest of the voters. America is a center right country; even apolitical people cringe at the idea of “socialism” and government control of their lives. Americans believe that the government that governs best governs least, and that there is no government control that will substitute for personal responsibility, integrity and conviction.
The success of our local conventions combines with a spontaneous explosion of conservative activity around the country: Tea Party rallies with tens of thousands of participants, governors making the very hard (but wise) choice to eschew the Big O’s “free” candy because they know that their state’s freedom will be held for ransom in return, bank executives telling the federal government they can take their TARP funds and put them somewhere else because their intrusion and control isn’t wanted in our free market system, and local groups of all kinds springing up, using the power of the internet to connect with each other and spread the conservative message.
This is how it all starts: conservatives banding together on the issues, educating and motivating each other so we can go out and literally evangelize the general electorate. As we build our momentum, we need to keep our message clear: the Republican Party is a conservative party. We are not Democrat Lite, we are not Mushy Middle. We’re not interested in wannabes or RINOs. We have no patience for whining, grousing, or petty personal agendas. We want tried and true positive conservatives who will build on the momentum we see starting and take advantage of all the innovation that the web and other tools have to offer to catapult the Republican Party back into the majority in Minnesota and across the country. We've got a great start. Let’s keep it going!