The media has paid a lot of attention to the so-called rebranding effort of the Republican Party. The re-branding effort began immediately following the 2008 elections. Nine months have now passed and those who wanted to “rebrand” the Republican Party have absolutely nothing to show for their efforts.
The reason the Republican re-branding effort has failed is because the consumers (voters) have rejected the product, not the marketing plan. For any Republican revitalization effort to be successful, it needs to be spawned from the grassroots and not be delivered as an edict by a national or state party, its elected officials, or presidential candidates.
While the national Republican re-branding effort has failed, grassroots conservatives have not. One need to look no further than the Tea Party movement to see the huge successes of grassroots conservatives, but there are even better examples here in Iowa to which conservatives can look to see the evolution of Republican and conservative activism.
The first example is the American Future Fund (AFF). AFF is an Iowa-Based 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on important national issues. AFF is the conservative response to liberal groups like MoveOn.org. In the 2008 election cycle, AFF spent over $10 million supporting conservative candidates across the country.
While AFF has typically gone after liberals like Sen. Harry Reid, Al Franken, and others, they have not shied away from holding Sen. Chuck Grassley’s feet to the fire in regards to President Obama’s healthcare proposal. While grassroots conservatives have occasionally questioned Sen. Grassley on a broad range of issues, they have never done so with the political cover that a group like AFF has provided. In fact, nobody has been harder on Sen. Grassley over healthcare reform than AFF.
Likewise, late last week, freshman State Representative Kent Sorenson penned an open letter to Sen. Grassley dealing with the Senator’s position on President Obama’s healthcare plan and other issues that Rep. Sorenson was upset with. The grassroots responded well to Rep. Sorenson’s letter while others thought that Rep. Sorenson was out of line. Regardless of whether you liked Sorenson’s tactics, Sen. Grassley requested a one-on-one meeting with him to discuss the letter. It’s safe to say that Sorenson got Grassley’s attention.
What’s interesting in both cases is that neither AFF nor Rep. Sorenson want to see Sen. Grassley challenged with a primary opponent. They just want Grassley to oppose any proposal that would lead to a nationalized healthcare system. While they have both taken strong stands against Sen. Grassley, they also have not gotten out of line with their rhetoric and tone.
Iowa Republicans can learn a lot from AFF and people like Rep. Sorenson. Just because Sen. Grassley, or any of our Republican elected officials for that matter, are Republicans, doesn’t mean that we have to remain silent and hope that they vote the way we want them to. It’s absurd to suggest that we can’t respectfully question those we elect to represent us. It doesn’t matter if the person questioning Sen. Grassley is a mechanic with an 8th grade education, a freshman state legislator, or well educated physician. They all have the right to do so. If fact, our country’s founders intended our government to work that way.
We are blessed to live in a Republic where the supreme power resides in the people who are entitled to vote, and their will is exercised by elected officials who are responsible to them and who must govern according to the law. Simply put, our form of government only works when its citizens accept their responsibility in the system. The American Future Fund, Rep. Sorenson, and the thousands of Tea Party activists across the state are great examples on how the system should work.
The Republican Party will find its way out of its current malaise only when its activists reengage in the political process. No longer can we hope that our elected officials will do the right thing. We need to make sure that our representatives know what the right thing is, and the only way we can ensure that is if they hear from us. That is the system of government that the founders intended for our country, and we should follow the lead of those who are willing to participate in the Republic.
(Disclosure: AFF is an advertiser on TheIowaRepublican.com)
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