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Aftermath of Romney loss: JYR president ‘fed up’ with GOP on engaging voters

For years I’ve watched as Jacksonville’s Young Republicans president Peret Pass worked to advance Republican candidates even if she wasn’t officially part of their campaign. Like countless others who either volunteered or worked for pay during the 2012 cycle, Pass was disappointed in the outcome of the presidential election.

Pass criticized GOP leadership; her comments were duly noted by the politics writer at the daily newspaper in our area.

What sparked her remarks?

A conference call with Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

After that call, Pass posted her thoughts on her Facebook page—this is an excerpt of a longer statement:

“[A]t this point, I am so fed up with the GOP in regards to reaching out and engaging voters, specifically young voters. I just spent an entire 20 minutes on a call with Gov. Scott with the ‘Youth Coalition’ of the state party.. a call that the party did not reach out to state youth leaders to ask their opinion of and a coalition I found out about after being invited to be on the call. They took 5 questions and it was the same rhetoric you hear every time you turn on the TV. If the party wants to be serious about engaging the youth whether its teenagers or 40 year olds, they are going to have to come into our backyards and communicate a message in terms that is attractive to young people. I appreciate the effort, but I don't need to be ‘thrown a bone’ and think it's cool to be on a conference call with the Governor. We need to be on the streets talking to people and engaging people on their level, not wasting time on a conference call.”

It’s easy for me to share her frustration, not because I’m a paid strategist or perpetual volunteer, but because I believe my country needs a viable opposition party to staunch the flow of Americans walking blindly into full socialism. The march isn’t new and it isn’t finished, but current Democrat leadership, if not curtailed, will have Pass’ generation fully in the grip of an economy totally dominated by the federal government.

I was talking to one of my favorite Democrats not long ago. He remains a fan of President Barack Obama but he’s willing to concede problems with Democrats in Congress. What struck me as I listened to him was that this man has largely conservative beliefs. He doesn’t like wasteful spending. He likes personal liberty. He is quite articulate about the U.S. Constitution. He knows more about government than most.

However, when I asked my friend how he felt about the thorough trampling of the First Amendment by the Obama team, he went blank. “Huh?”

I took time to explain the locking up of the mystery filmmaker who was incorrectly, as it turned out, blamed for the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. I also explained the administration’s willingness to concede to the United Nations on a resolution having to do with “defamation of religion.” The resolution mentioned only one faith and it upends the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

My friend and I also talked about Gov. Mitt Romney. When I said that Romney in person was charming, another “huh?” came forward.

Therein lies the puzzle of the 2012 outcome.

I didn’t start out as a Romney supporter, but I followed our primary process closely and came to appreciate his skills.

Republicans put forth the most qualified candidate for president either party has seen since Ronald Reagan (in my opinion). Romney understood international finance and he certainly would’ve been an asset in healthcare reform because if Republicans got their wish to repeal the ObamaCare Tax Bill, America would understandably expect an alternative.

Furthermore, Romney is disciplined. He is a man with deep principles and I believe he tries to live his life by them. He wasn’t, in my opinion, what you might call a core conservative, at least when he was governor of Massachusetts. Frankly, had he been that type of conservative in his policies, he would’ve done the citizens of Massachusetts a disservice because that state is eternally blue.

There’s infighting going on at present among Republicans, with self-dubbed conservatives tossing out the word RINO every time they hear something they don’t agree with and moderate Republicans bemoaning the right wing evangelicals whose primary objective has more to do with faith than governance.

Do you ever hear Dems calling their party members by a name equivalent to RINO?

I recall something a conservative told me one night when we were having a glass of wine at a popular tavern here in Jax. He said our party should “get back to the Constitution.”

I told him I agreed, even though some parts of the Constitution might make him and others uncomfortable.

He seemed speechless. “What do you mean?”

I gave him one example. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that tells you whom you can marry.”

We had some fun with that one and after he told me he respected my “libertarian” views, I told him my views are actually (almost myopically, I admit) centered around what is permissible and not as directed by provisions in that document and the Bill of Rights because those documents stand between us and tyranny.

Therein lies the GOP’s redemption, evidenced by the ascension of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who stood up for the Constitution and individual liberty while the Left remained catatonic and many on the right viewed his filibuster as inappropriate. By the time Sen. John McCain started calling Paul names, I realized there is a change of the guard pending and I hope nothing can stop it.

Why do I say that?


Today’s youth are decidedly more socially liberal than previous generations. Homosexuality, racial relations, and contraception are not hot button topics.

I talk to more youth than you can imagine because I am frequently in bars because of a business I assist. The young people I meet are Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians. They share common concerns despite party registration.

Young people are concerned their social security won’t be there. They’re worried about the high cost of everything. Having experienced 9-11-2001 as middle or high schoolers, they’re keenly aware that much of the world doesn’t like us.

Many youth are in debt for student loans and they know it’s not likely they’ll find a job that yields a fat check for their labor. Members of my generation were in some of those same boats, but then, we got Reagan and when that happened, we began to prosper. By the time President Bill Clinton and Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich arrived, we were beginning to feel the realities of prosperity that would continue for more than a decade, even after the 9/11 attacks.

We couldn’t forget the years of President Jimmy Carter soon enough.

As I watched the 2012 election cycle unfold, I remember being as frustrated as I was when McCain ran in 2008. I watched my party lose the fight, not just the one Democrats were waging but the media battle as well. I watched a man I honestly came to believe would make a remarkable president drown in misguided campaign rhetoric. Some of the misinformation got so obscene—Medicare cuts, for example—I ended up with a rebuttal I used in talking to people that sounded like a campaign statement.

And not for the first time, I yelled at the TV: “Who in the hell is advising Republicans on media strategy?” Because, as I said more than once, we brought a bubble wand to a Chicago street fight.

Democrats have shaped a coalition of competing interests and philosophies. They have managed to hang onto that coalition even as promises made were either broken or didn’t materialize. Democrats assault the Constitution and media rarely call them on it. Dems maintain major control over legacy media and they dominate new media as well.

Most of my fellow freelancers are Democrats, in part because that is where the money is. There are few conservative or Republican publications that pay freelancers and most don’t even respond to email queries. There is no conservative, libertarian or Republican media infrastructure to support messengers.

Democrats have a complex, well-oiled machine.

We don’t.

Until we do, we won’t be able to beat an Obama or Clinton.

The answer is in the U.S. Constitution and the strategy should be to govern in accordance with the document that bound our great nation together not as a confederation, but as a republic. We should abide by it even when it makes some uncomfortable.

There are so many opportunities we should take advantage of and there are many who would eagerly join us if we welcome them.

Why we restrict access to that famous “Big Tent” I cannot tell you, but McCain’s foolish condemnation of Sen. Paul is a perfect example of what is wrong with the party I belong to and despite my annoyance, remain faithful to.

I have no hope whatsoever that today’s Democrats can solve the problems my country faces, problems that today’s youth will ultimately realize should have been addressed.

Peret said of the GOP, “[T]hey are going to have to come into our backyards and communicate a message in terms…attractive to young people.”

True, and spoken from the perspective of a leader in a youth organization.

I’m not young physically, but I’d say we need to be communicating effectively to all people without resorting to the racial pandering Democrats have relied on since the Civil War, pitting race against race purely for political gain.

We could start by explaining some history and going “forward” from there, reminding ourselves our label is not the conservative or libertarian party, we are the Republican Party. Therein lies the opportunity and the challenge.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/March 13, 2013)

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