California GOP Needs Ideas, Not Just Money

What's an irrelevant party to do?


Most of the activists, insiders, and lobbyists I talked to during the recent California Republican Party convention in Sacramento expressed optimism about their party despite blistering election losses and falling voter registration levels that will soon—I'm only half-joking here—have the party competing with the Greens and the Peace and Freedom folks.

Their optimism came from the election of former lawmaker Jim Brulte of Rancho Cucamonga as party chairman. "California Republicans have chosen a former state lawmaker known for his fundraising work to lead the party back from the brink of irrelevance in a state that once was a GOP stronghold," according to the Associated Press report.

Given Brulte's financial connections and vast Capitol experience, he was able to unite the conservative and moderate wings of the party. Unite might be too strong of a word. The GOP has its back against the wall, is deeply in debt, has no blueprint for regaining momentum and is thoroughly lost ideologically. It was more of a "If you want it, you can have it" situation.

Also good news, the party event featured less of that internal bickering that has plagued past California GOP events (although it did have a couple of scandals, including yet another one that involved some party member talking about rape). The old saying about academic battles being so vicious because the stakes are so small should be refined. The stakes are so miniscule for the state GOP now that it's not even fun to fight with each other anymore.

Convention cynics joked that the theme was, "Republicans love Latinos." Almost every public event was designed to highlight the party's embrace of the state's burgeoning Latino community. The party finally has recognized that it can't win without deep support from a group that doesn't vote for Republicans in large percentages, that it is now paying the price for its past approach to immigration issues, and that its outreach efforts are a joke.

Sending GOP emissaries into Latino neighborhoods to convince them to vote for the GOP worked as well as if left-wing Latino activists sent emissaries to Newport Beach to sign them up for the Democrats. The new efforts are designed to "grow" candidates and send them through the Republican pipeline. Unfortunately, it's hard to launch this effort without it smacking of pandering. I'd feel better, also, if the new candidates were more about principles, less about ethnicity and values.

If I were giving the convention a theme, I'd borrow the name of the 2009 movie, "He's Just Not That Into You." California's voters just don't care about the party. Ginning up fund-raising by nominating a deal-cutting former lobbyist makes sense from a party-structure standpoint. But where are the GOP leaders who engage in the battle of ideas? And do they even know what ideas to engage in?

The Saturday luncheon featured Karl Rove, who blasted the Obama administration for increasing the federal government's debt and failing to deal with the crushing entitlement burden from Social Security and Medicare. But as former President George W. Bush's top adviser, Rove led policies that doubled the national debt and worsened the entitlements situation under the faulty idea that voters would embrace the GOP if the party handed out goodies. Delegates in attendance should have at least walked out of the room or booed loudly.

Assemblyman Chuck DeVore of Irvine spoke at a lunch event. He is a solid conservative, but one who fled the state for Austin. He makes great points about Texas policy, but California Republicans will take away a different lesson: How do I find a good job in Dallas?

Some of the politicians were even championing their newfound willingness to reach across party lines. That sound nice, but the Democratic Party is committed to expanding regulation, increasing taxes, blocking reform to union entitlements and creating new government programs and agencies. Once in a while, an occasional "point of light" will emerge—i.e., a growing consensus for reforming the project-halting California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). But the Dems don't need Republican support for that or anything else.

What's an irrelevant party to do? Its new approach will take many years to change the state's political climate at best, and California is in desperate straits now.

Instead of worrying about process, the party needs to build ideas that resonate with the public. Republicans will never compete with Democrats in the game of government give-away. They need to boisterously rebuild that old "Leave Us  Alone" coalition and point out why government is the main obstacle to every Californian's freedom and prosperity, although I'm not sure how many of the party's leaders or activists believe that.

Look at how Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul single-handedly rammed the issue of the Obama administration's police-state policies on drone attacks into the forefront of the national discussion. Likewise, courageous and visionary California Republicans—OK, that's probably an oxymoron—must engage Californians about how the union-controlled democratic majority is turning our state into North Korea with palm trees.

That might not make the GOP lobbyists and consultants happy, but the party needs ideological leadership now even more than political leadership.

NEXT: Evacuation at NORAD After Suspicious Packages Found

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  1. You would think they could get votes simply by not being the insane party.

    1. By being the LESS insane party.

      1. Indeed! There’s much room to maneuver.

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    2. We would be much better off if 100,000 California Republicans would move to Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire and Virginia.

      1. I’m not so sure. What passes for the GOP out here often resembles Team Blue in those places.

        1. That’s the truth. California Republicans would be Democrats in Florida. Don’t let the party & tourist atmosphere fool you. The political power in Florida belongs to the right-wing Catholic Cubans in the south & the Bible Belt in the northern half. They are in charge. And don’t you forget it. They can’t even loosen up enough to let people open casinos. & Marijuana won’t be legal in that state for at least another generation.

    3. what Danny said I’m impressed that a stay at home mom can profit $9802 in one month on the computer. have you read this webpage…

  2. For some reason I imagine the California GOP as 20 people competing for 200 votes.

  3. Some people just couldn’t sell bottled water in the Sahara.

    1. RACIST!

  4. the California GOP has its back against the wall, is deeply in debt, has no blueprint for regaining momentum, and is thoroughly lost ideologicall

    So they’re stronger than they’ve ever been. If they keep improving like this, withing three years, California will be Italy instead of Greece.

    1. Oooo! When do the Ducati and Ferrari factories open?

      1. HAHAHA, I don’t think you can legally make things in CA anymore.

        1. Sure you can. As long as they’re solar cells or high speed trains that are fully subsidized by the government.

          Seriously, though, the CA GOP is alive and well. They’ve just become a regional party within the state (they’re strong in the central valley).

          Also, California, despite all of the stupidity here, produces a shit-ton of food and oil for refining. All of the pieces are here for it to become great again. We just need a strategically placed earthquake or two and we’ll be all set.

          1. IOW, where’s Lex Luthor when we need him?

              1. It’s Otisburg, you bastard!

  5. It’s strange how the state-level Republican party can be so withered and irrelevant but still be responsible for every failure of California’s government and economy.

    1. No, that’s libertarians.

    2. This. Every Californian Democrat/Progressive I know blames the GOP for just about damn near everything. It’s freaking pathetic and mind-boggling.

      1. I blame Bush.

      2. All leftists are like that: every failure of leftist policy and ideas is the fault of those who oppose them. If we all just believed really hard, it would work. These wreckers, saboteurs, and kulaks must be dealt with before we can move forward to the Radiant Future.

      3. And yet it works for them.

    3. Withered and irrelevant like a prune.

  6. What is the percentage of voters for Libertarian party candidates in California?

    1. I was the ONLY registered Libertarian at my polling place. The proctor or whatever they’re called thought it was hilarious.

      1. Jesse, where do you live?

        1. Last election cycle I was still registered in Redondo Beach. I just got all of my paperwork taken care of to be registered in Manhattan Beach.

          1. Oh, then you need to come out to the LBC the next time I go down to drink with EDG.

            1. I’m down, just let me know when.

  7. Almost every public event was designed to highlight the party’s embrace of the state’s burgeoning Latino community. The party finally has recognized that it can’t win without deep support from a group that doesn’t vote for Republicans in large percentages

    The California GOP would be wise to learn from the Obama administration in this regard. That you can court them and deport them, as long as you pay lip service to their concerns.

    1. Sending GOP emissaries into Latino neighborhoods to convince them to vote for the GOP worked as well as if left-wing Latino activists sent emissaries to Newport Beach to sign them up for the Democrats.

      And I’ll bet you that the latter is more realistic than the former. I wonder why that is…

    2. No point in keeping them around to vote for you when you can send union activist multiple times to the polls to vote in the immigrant’s stead.

  8. Driving through the Central Valley last weekend, I was struck my how much the political signage was about Democrat hate. Sure, it is because of the delta smelt water issues with farmers and someone whose orchard is a bunch of shriveled sticks is going to hate on the perceived cause but it seemed indicative of a party with no message.

    1. Yeah why would someone hate a party who is destroying their land and livelihood to save a tiny little fish?

      Crazy rightwing haters.

      1. I mean, not to shit on you, but that’s an ideal fucking message:

        Democrats have turned off the water and now farmers are being forced off their land. Productive businesses are being destroyed in the name of an environmental ideology.

        1. No, when they say, “no water = no jobs,” that is a good message. Hating on Pelosi isn’t going to get them anywhere.

        2. You would think that’s an ideal message, but it’s not. To Bay Area gentry liberals, killing Gaia-raping farms, who probably grow evil GMO foods, is a feature, not a bug.

      2. Did you hear the latest on water this year? Due to the watershed the smelt habitates in, they’ve decided to pump only 25% of the contracted water to the west side of the valley this year. They had expected 40%, but 25 is all they’re gonna get. I heard something like 750k acres will go unplanted from last year to this year. Add that to the acreage we lost over the last 5 years, and you’re talking something like 2M acres turned into a dust bowl because of a fucking fish that would likely migrate elsewhere is the delta got too salty for it.

        The acceptance of the state’s water scheme is a real mind-bender for me. I have sat in guys’ offices and watched them cry as they sign their equipment away because the state told them they can’t farm land that has been in their family for three generations but that they will be fined if they don’t maintain their dust control.

        1. yeah it’s ridiculous.

        2. It’s really astonshing to drive up the 5 and see dead orchads next tonewly planted orchards. I presume it to be a reshuffling due to water right allocations.

        3. So contract with someone else to bring you the water you need. Oh what’s that? Putting something as water intensive as a citrus farm in the middle of a fucking desert makes it prohibitively expensive to afford irrigation when you can’t use the state to make people who aren’t idiots pay for it?

          1. The state changed the rules after these people planted. Much of this land had been farmed for decades and the state kept changing the rules after the farmers had secured water rights under the scheme in place. This year, for example, the state is only going to pump 25% of the water they are contractually bound to pump.

            Trust me, the guys I deal with didn’t just buy the land last week and start bitching that they don’t have water today.

            Also, there is very little citrus that is getting uprooted. Mostly nuts. The citrus is almost all on the eastern side of the valley where they have a lot more naturally-occurring water. These farmers know how to utilize land and plant what they have contracted the right amount of water for. They are pretty blameless when politicians change the rules on them after they signed the contracts for the water rights and planted accordingly.

            1. This year, for example, the state is only going to pump 25% of the water they are contractually bound to pump.

              And yet, the dipshits in Sacremento would probably scream bloody murder if the Upper Colorado Basin told California, “No, fuck you, we’re keeping 75% of that 4.5 billion acre feet your supposed to get under the Colorado River Compact.”

            2. the state is only going to pump 25% of the water they are contractually bound to pump

              Is that an actual contract, or is “contract” now being corrupted to describe welfare subsidies the way “investment” has been previously.

              1. Dude, I hear what you’re saying, honestly I do. When we colonize our own planet, there will be no silliness of shipping water hundreds of miles with tax dollars.

                But that’s not what we have. I mean, if we’re going to go to the true libertarian stance on water in California, then millions of people will be forced move. I mean, SoCal doesn’t have the natural water flow to support its teeming mass of humanity.

                Turning off the faucet because it’s prohibitively expensive, or because of cronyism concerns is a separate issue. Their stated reason for stopping the water is habitat preservation for the delta smelt.

                I choose people over fish in this case.

  9. Driving through the Central Valley last weekend, I was struck my how much the political signage was about Democrat hate. Sure, it is because of the delta smelt water issues with farmers and someone whose orchard is a bunch of shriveled sticks is going to hate on the perceived cause but it seemed indicative of a party with no message.

    1. Because their is no real message. How do you coherently square being the party of small government on one hand with demanding the government provide you with subsidized water via a public aqueduct?

      1. Stormy Dragon| 3.8.13 @ 12:43PM |#
        …”How do you coherently square being the party of small government on one hand with demanding the government provide you with subsidized water via a public aqueduct?”

        Here’s a real problem with the CA GOP. Ag is one of the states largest industry and it’s subsidized top to bottom.
        Any ‘small-gov’t’ message is immediately run into crony capitalism.

        1. especially when they are blaming the feds for taking away the water. The feds giveth and the feds taketh away.

      2. Stormy, that’s only partially correct. There is a coherent message. The problem is, the message is going to the GOP politicians and they’re not listening. Those signs aren’t from establishment GOP types. They’re generally from people that were apolitical but have become tea party-libertarianish once they saw the ravaging effects the state’s policies had on their ability to farm their own land.

        If you’ll look more closely, almost all of the signs that have websites are for tea party groups that are not in any way a part of the GOP establishment in the state. That and you have a ton of anti-HSR signs going up all over the valley. And those are hardly GOP supporters putting those us, seeing as half of the GOP in the central valley is pro-HSR for the handouts from Uncle Sugar.

  10. This website, along with, has an incredible fascination with “saving” California.

    Let it fall into the sea. There are other places to live where people aren’t crazy.

    1. It’s especially odd considering how many of the 24/7 and Hit and Run stories are about how California is a shitty place to live.

    2. Did Jesus hang out with the wealthy, the pious, people who had their shit together?

      No, he hung out with the thieves, prostitutes, the sinners. Plus, as a group, they’re more fun.

      1. We’ll find plenty of sinners outside of California once they ban porn or whatever it is they’ve got next on the list.

        Disclaimer: I’ve been to Washington, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada but never to California. Maybe it really is so freaking awesome that I’d want to save it too.

        1. Right, next thing you’re going to tell me is that L.A. will pass a law saying something like you have to have sex with a condom, or something.

        2. It is pretty freaking awesome once you get past the people and the governments.

      2. My first wife was a Californian. She was a human aneurism.

    3. …but there’s only one San Diego, CA.

      Fuck California anyway.

      1. …but there’s only one San Diego, CA.

        Norfolk, VA would beg to differ.

        1. San Diego has great weather. Norfolk is a shithole. Fuck Norfolk.

  11. I’m no political consultant, but I would try to rebuild the party from a grass-roots perspective. I would send “emissaries” out to every community that could show real hurt and pain. Property owners who lost their shit due to an RDA, property owners losing their businesses because some municipality says there’s “too much crime” on that corner… people out in the central valley being petty-regulated to death.

    Drop the big So-con issues, gay marriage, immigration. Dump it all. Go after what made california ‘great’ in the past: The people who move to California because it was a ‘new frontier’ and was full of people with a desire to live a quirky, free lifestyle. The actual entrenched rule-bound, heavily regulated state California has become has to be attacked at its core.

    1. Drop the big So-con issues, gay marriage, immigration. Dump it all.

      This would be excellent advice for the entire GOP.

      1. From a libertarian perspective, sure. But from an electoral perspective, meh. In some places, so-con wedges are winning issues.

        It’s just, California is not one of those places.

  12. Why vote for a commie lite when you can have the real thing with Team Blue?

    1. True. We have to careful when we hear discussion about Red Team adapting on some of the social issues, which almost implies we’ll find kindred souls on many small government ideals. But Red Team has small government rhetoric, but in practice they perform not much different than Blue Team.

      I was too long spellbound by Red Team rhethoric on ‘lower’ taxes, small federal government, local and state powers, a restrained federal government. But I can’t see how any of the rhetoric was applied in policy.

      Please, give me the anarchist to argue with about ‘size’ of government, because if you’re talking to Republicans you have to keep in mind you are many magnitudes apart. A typical Libertarian wants government to be a small potted plant, Republicans want it to be a forest of Redwoods.

  13. Senior centers for the old and free Coke and Heroin for the young would result in a win for the new age Californian Republican Party. As a bonus food stamp increases and immunity for cheap senior hookers would help get out the vote.

    1. By “senior hookers” do you mean high schoolers or dust-farters? I ask because it matters.

  14. The GOP is done. There only hope of existence is to move out of the way for real conservatives. Being pro-military doesn’t mean your conservative. The GOP will flourish again when it embraces its role as a LIMITER of government instead of a pro military group of hucksters.

    Graham, McCain, Gingrich, Dick Morris, McConnell are an embarrassment to us all. I pray that some day, as I age, I have the good grace and sense to leave before I have to be moved out. Life changes. RINOs are not only ineffective. They are not wanted by conservatives.

    I’d take anyone for Senator, so long as there goal was to shrink the Federal government. No more professional politicians. Time for regular people to step up.

    And for the love of God, someone tell Karl Rove that it’s not 1980. Shut up already. We don’t care about pot smoking. We are falling for the gay panic to protect marriage. Anyone giving money to that moron and his PAC should take a sledge hammer to themselves between the legs so that you don’t reproduce.

  15. What vote attracting “leave me alone” ideas should the GOP embrace, in a state that flirts with banning circumcisions and has already banned shark fin soup, plastic bags (in some places) and certain foods in the school cafeteria? And I’m convinced the large majority of the 45% that perennially loves O-care are from Cali.

    The Republicans ran a gay candidate in the LA race and he barely beat out fast food nanny Jan Perry. If look at where the top 4 dominated, another uncomfortable truth emerges – voting for according to ethnicity or gender will be huge. Garcetti did well with Latinos, and Jan Perry probably captured the blacks.

    In an open primary system, non Latino democrats will probably have a tough time beating out their Latino counterparts. The GOP’s only hope is…. running a Mexican open borders libertarian running on cutting medicare and opposing O-care?

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  17. Get real. No decent, self-respecting person of ideas will take up the arduous task of reforming a party of crony capitalism, aggressive militarism, chauvinistic nationalism, primitive superstition, and welfare state-lite. The GOP’s intellectuals, if there ever were any, left the GOP long ago. What remains are clever scam artists and a grandstanding senator with presidential ambitions. Oh, that and an old maverick pushing a communitarian slogan, “Country First”.

    1. Psst your shabby religion of collectivism is just as ancient, primitive and barbaric as Islam or Chrisitianity. And it is YOUR left-wing collectivist intellectuals who are dead and gone; collectivism, as a philosophical and political ideal, died in WWII. You’ve been coasting ever since, and your time is just about up.

      The libertarian right is capturing the moral and political idealism of the country. You had your day, but the 20th century is dead–and so are the lamestream intellectuals.

  18. It’s great to be out of California. But it’s horrifying to see what my new home is becoming. Coloradoites need a lesson on what happens when you royally fuck a state up, before they complete the job.

  19. Message to the Commiefornia GOP, in capitals to ensure signal strength and clarity: GO LIBERTARIAN, IF NOT FOR ANY BETTER REASON THAN THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE.

  20. California GOP needs money + ideas + good management team who would know how to sue the previously mentioned two things. Well actually, you know what, the entire America needs all of that. Since no one is most likely going to give us money, than we are going to have to somehow make at least two things real. So with good ideas and management team we have to get rid of instant online payday loans debt, stop foreclosures and of course decrease unemployment rate. All this seems impossible so far, but I am sure it is achievable. As for Cali, things will get better once economy in general is to start recovery.

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  25. I just realized this was written in 2002. I wonder what the gun crime rate is now. Any government that tells you that you have no right to self defense is not looking after your best interest. Self defense is the most basic right anyone has. No government or police can protect you. I can’t believe you all allow this to continue. I keep a gun at home for self defense and have a license to carry it concealed any where I go. And I do. If I am attacked then at least I have a chance to stay alive. By the time the police arrive they can either arrange for my body to be picked up or take a statement from me. I choose the later. Britons let a right be taken from them and now it will be much harder to get it back. But you should try.
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