Tuesday, March 9, 2010

By Steve Fair
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is in Oklahoma today. He’s not here to congratulate the Oklahoma State GOP organization on a job well done. He’s not here to recognize Oklahoma grassroots volunteers and activists on helping elect the most conservative federal delegation in the country. He’s not here to announce the RNC is going to use the Oklahoma GOP as a ‘model’ of how to convince states with conservative Democrats to vote Republican. He’s not here to help the state and local Party to raise money for the 2010 elections. STEELE IS HERE TO SOLICIT MONEY FROM OKLAHOMANS TO USE IN CAMPAIGNS IN OTHER STATES! Now Lord knows other states need help in getting conservatives elected and Oklahoma Republicans recognize that, but Steele's idea to breeze into town, raise some bucks and hit the road is just flat wrong! Steele and the RNC’s campaign to raise money in Oklahoma is misguided and shortsighted. Here is why:
First, any organization that wants to have long term success has to be built from the ground up. You must have a solid foundation. One of the major problems the modern Republican Party faces is that simple principle has been ignored. In the past, the RNC has paid lip service to ‘building the grassroots.’ Training sessions are put on by young people who have done nothing telling seasoned veteran volunteers how to do everything. It’s comical if it were not so sad. Tip O’Neil was right- politics is local- and while the RNC says they want a strong foundation, their past and now immediate actions dictate otherwise. Steele’s campaign to take money from Oklahoma to use in other states doesn’t build anything in Oklahoma- it hurts the Oklahoma GOP and our efforts. It’s difficult enough to get people to volunteer to serve in Party official positions- Precinct/County/District level. When they find out the RNC Chairman is coming to town to solicit money from their donor base, many will lose faith in the cause and who can blame them?
Second, our Party bylaws clearly state we are to be organized from the PRECINCT level up. Steele should be meeting with Oklahoma activists within the Party and asking for their input as to how the RNC can help them in their efforts. It is difficult to get big donors to get involved with the grassroots- local candidates/county organizations. It will become increasingly more difficult when Steele gets on TV and tells those same donors to send a check to him and doesn’t mention helping the local county/state organization or candidates. That strategy might work for 2010, but it does nothing to build an organization long term- it undermines it! It fuels the disconnect with the grassroots that causes mistrust within the GOP.
Third, the Oklahoma GOP has done a stellar job in the past few years! Against a Democrat tsunami in 2006, Oklahoma Republicans picked up seats in the state legislature. In 2008, Oklahoma was the only state in the country where EVERY county voted for John McCain. Oklahoma is the Reddest of the Red states. Oklahoma gets minimal fiscal help from the RNC. We have always been a donor state- sending more money to the RNC than we get back. But when Steele takes it to the next level and comes to town with a plan to tap more of our money and send it to other states, he better have a detailed itemized plan of how he is going to help Oklahoma. What Steele should do is sit down with a empty pad and a pencil in a meeting with Oklahoma GOP activists taking notes on how Oklahoma Republicans accomplished what they did in 2006 and 2008. Steele’s actions in Oklahoma should send a clear message to other state GOP organizations- DO A GOOD JOB AND WE’LL COME AND TRY TO TAKE YOUR DONORS AWAY FROM YOU! Lest you think, Oklahoma GOP activists are isolationists and not team members, the Oklahoma State GOP has organized efforts to send volunteers to campaign in Mississippi, Colorado, Missouri and other states, at their own expense. The Oklahoma GOP wants to see Republicans elected across the country, but not at the expense of losing precious hard fought ground in our state.
Fourthly, there is just so much political ‘donor’ money in the marketplace. When Steele taps money from a donor in Oklahoma who might have given to a state legislative, county official, school board, or city council race, he has hurt the local effort. It has taken Oklahoma Republican activists years of hard work to get to the place where we are now. It’s hard enough for local candidates and Party organizations to raise a buck without the increased competition from the top. In effect Steele is stealing donor money from Oklahoma.
A more prudent, wise and long term plan would have been for Steele to come to Oklahoma and ‘partnered’ with the State GOP to raise money. That would have done three things; (1) It would have rewarded Oklahoma for a job well done. (2) It would have sent a message of teamwork and cooperation. (3) It would have built the GOP from the grassroots up. A sample TV spot could have been:

I’m Michael Steele and I am so proud to be in Oklahoma. Oklahoma, a state which has the most conservative federal Congressional delegation in America. Oklahoma, a state that has voted Republican for President for over forty years. Oklahoma, a state that stands for traditional values. Oklahoma is a model for other states in our Party. I would ask you to get involved with your local GOP organization by attending meetings and helping on local campaigns. I would also ask you to write a check to help the local, state and national Republican Party. 50% of the money you donate will stay right here in Oklahoma to help elect solid conservatives. Oklahoma- you’re doing fine!

Steele’s media campaign to solicit money in Oklahoma to take to other states just reinforce a common observation the average citizen has about Republicans- elites that don’t listen to the working class.

I’m Steve Fair and I approve this message

PS: Call me Chairman Steele- I would love to discuss this with you at your convenience- 405.990.7449

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