While the Republican party, both nationally and in Texas, is not in the disarray that the media might have you believe, it’s certainly in a soul-searching period. It’s nothing to be alarmed about–it’s a natural evolution that’s happened to Republicans and Democrats alike in the past, and will happen again in the future.
The race for governor in Texas has become, for some, a potential early indicator of what’s to come for the GOP nationally. The race pits Gov. Rick Perry of the conservative purist ideology against Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of the big tent, broad party philosophy. His tactics appeal to a narrower brand of conservatism, whereas Hutchison’s appeal is broadly embraced. If you need any evidence of this, compare the approval ratings of the two.
As an example of what Hutchison has been saying, The Dallas Morning News’ Gromer Jeffers quotes Hutchison from her Monday press conference:
“If you disagree on some issue here or there, come in, let’s talk about it,” she said. “Let us try to make our position your position. That’s how you grow a party. That’s how you reach out and rejuvenate the grass roots.”
I think few would argue with the statements above. But that’s not the game Perry is playing. In the time Perry has been governor, the Texas House went from a commanding Republican majority to having one more Republican than Democrat. His goal has never been to grow the party and there’s tangible evidence that shows this. The Texas GOP is on a train headed straight for disaster, and the engineer is too busy whistling Dixie to pay attention.
But Texas isn’t the only place this discussion is popping up. Although it’s a Texas-based blog, the Lone Star Times has a blog post up today about RNC Chairman Michael Steele and growing the party.
Writer David Jennings hits on an important point: we are the party of Reagan, but Reagan is gone. We must find a way to adapt his message and the core GOP principles to our current situation. Once that has been established, we must evaluate who the Republican party has in its ranks to serve as spokesman and leader of the march back to majority status. Every Republican should be focused on this task–not personal ambition or self-serving politics. Says Jennings:
I think that Mr. Steele’s message is exactly what the Republicans need to stress. We are the party of freedom. We are the party of limited government. We are the party of fiscal conservatism. We are the party of opportunity. We are the party that is open and welcoming to all who share those simple principles.
If you want to see video of Steele’ statement, click here.
Change is, of course, difficult. But it’s also necessary for suvival. In politics, change is necessary for relevance. An irrelevant Republican party accomplishes none of its goals, and sees none of its core principles enacted as policy.
So the spotlight is again on Texas. The race is obviously not a simple choice between black and white. But distinct messages are beginning to form and Texans again will take the lead in this country to determine the future path it takes.