Politics does not have to be a dirty word
Monday, January 28, 2013 9:00 PM
Politics does not have to be a dirty word.
I said it last week in a column and drew a fair amount of reaction.
To a few, they seemed to think that I've moved somewhere south of the sanity line. "Of course politics is dirty." . . . "Politicians can't be trusted." . . . "The system is broken." . . . You get the idea.
Allow me to repeat. Politics does not have to be a dirty word.
The problem is a national one, a system that most of us feel disconnected from. The problem is too many of the hired hands take offense at the term, hired hands. They forget who they work for. For some of them, the only "job" they've ever had is elected office. They've never known what most of us deal with every day, going to work and being held accountable for doing a job. Someone expects results from us. Believe it or not, positive results. Not the kind they get where the red ink and smothering policies only seem to flow deeper and more intrusive.
The answers, tough though they may be, aren't in Washington. They aren't in Indianapolis. They are right here.
Last week this space focused on the local GOP. Sure, one elected type said to me afterward, it's easy to point out what's wrong, especially in Montgomery County's arm of the Republican Party. But what are the solutions? They said that my general ideas were OK. What about specifics?
To quickly review, the Grand Old Party locally is in a bit of disarray, according to several politicos and long-time observers. The chair, Scott Molin, may or may not opt to remain as the party leader. Some candidates say they don't get support, either with help or money. The Tea Party has split the base. The Democrats have grown their presence while the Republicans have not.
To start with, the Republicans could take a lesson from the Tea Partiers on organization. Somehow, with very little structure, the TP'ers manage to communicate well and find time to congregate, two things the Republicans seem to be missing on a broad scale. Sure, the annual Lincoln Day dinner is next week, but why can't the GOP get together more often? Not just the powers that be in the party, but anyone who wants to attend? Why not have a series of meetings / parties and bring in speakers? Yes, parties. Have some fun as well as do some serious business.
Want some topics? How about focusing on the facts - heavy emphasis on facts - of what the framers of the Constitution really said, not what's been poorly translated through the years. What about bringing in an expert on how to run a campaign? Maybe that'll get some new blood in the mix? How about a field trip to the Statehouse to meet with Sen. Phil Boots or Rep. Tim Brown?
Next, grow the base. Create a Young Republicans group. There used to be something like that here. If you want the party to grow talk to young folks. Think they aren't involved? Get online and check out social media. They are very involved. They have opinions, and you know what, they're pretty smart. Reach out to them.
While at it, let's start a Republican Womens' group? Other counties have them. If you think women don't really run things . . .
Next is a website. Hard to believe there's not a local website for the GOP. There's a national website. There's a state website. In fact, on that one you can click on a link to Montgomery County. When you get there you'll find one item about the local Lincoln Day Dinner. The rest is about Lafayette and even Dubois County. (You just can't make this stuff up.) Heck, our little company can set up a website free of charge for you and would be happy to do so. It's not that hard anymore.
All the above are connected to a critically missing element, raising money. It costs money to win elections. I suspect an active, strong party that gets more people involved and gets the word out every way possible, including electronically, won't have an issue with its bank account.
Lastly, it ought to mean something to be a Republican. If the local party isn't reminding the base of its conservative values as well as doing some cheerleading, who will? We need to give folks a reason to be proud to belong.
In short, the local GOP needs organization, more people involved, money and a proud return to its roots. I might be a simple guy, but the steps outlined above are at least a start on improving each one of those items.
Let me say it again. Politics does not have to be a dirty word. This country was built on politics. We need to quit getting our dander up just because somebody says something we don't like. It's time to get back to what politics is supposed to be about. It's time to have conversations, civil debate.
More importantly for the local GOP, it's time to get people involved, and from the grassroots up, change things. Change from the bottom up is the only way. It's surely not going to happen in Washington. If we want it to change, it has to start here. It needs to start here. It needs to start now.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Tuesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.