The Iowa Comeback

As we talked about yesterday… there’s some rebuilding going on. Not a remodel. We’re not just talking about expanding the garage for an extra keggerator or for that hotrod you restored, alright? Everyone’s talking about it… so the World’s Crappiest Blog is picking up a blow torch and some diamond plate… and offering some ideas. I only preface this entire post with… I’m not, repeat NOT the sharpest tool in the garage. This may be a complete waste of your time. But, you all have been sending emails… been making some calls… asking “What up, G$?” So here’s a little something from the peanut gallery. Some of this flows right along… some of this is kind of rambling… and of course, what would be anything from QCI without a little randomnous… right? (and for some of you first time readers here… yes, that’s how I spell it). If you are going to take the time to read this… please comment… your party need’s you.

MESSAGE AND BRANDING – You know… our brand as Republicans, has took a beating. We all know why we are Republicans in the first place right? From personal freedoms, less government, liberty… you all get it. It’s a great message. The problem is, we’ve been out messaged… what seems like a lot lately. Some of it is easy to fix… communication shops and good messengers help. But in many cases, it was bad issues and bad votes from the folks we put in office… makes it a little tough to defend bad votes. Kind of like the “prevent defense”… which we all know football fans, prevents you from winning.

BOLD MESSAGING – This will have to come from our communicators, candidates and incumbents. We are the party of big ideas. Let’s go with it. Great example… my favorite governor, Mitch Daniels of Indiana… he put together some pretty bold solutions that rocked both sides of the aisle. I think there was an article out there with the line, “For a guy that ruffled the feathers of pretty much everyone, he sure got their vote.” I’ll find it here soon and post it in the comments. And guess what happened… for a guy who was doomed at the beginning of this cycle, he won with a landslide… every single county in the state of Indiana. And he won big (traditionally tough for Rs… big gains in Central Indiana). This is a state that went for Obama for the first time since Goldwater. Let’s come up with some real bold solutions for issues of the day in our state. Spread the word, get feed back, communicate it and get it to law.

AND BEFORE YOU START FOAMING AT THE MOUTH – Stick to the principles… stick to the conservative principles that win… yet be inclusive at the same time. And I’ll admit this here first… how the hell did Tom Latham win his district??? Where the registration registration numbers are against him?

Less government, lower taxes, personal freedoms, pro life, pro family… are you working hard for your money? You should keep it. Everyone talks about riots in the streets… this Bailout stuff should scare the hell out of you. A lot of this will come from the candidates and messengers and how effective they are. This is what made Ronald Reagan great. There’s probably some who didn’t agree with everything with Reagan… but they knew what he stood for and communicated like a champion. The message, while it will come out of the offices of 621 East 9th, will have be the most effective out of our candidates… and their supporters... us... the best we can.

KILL ‘EM WITH KINDNESS – This is the best advice from my father that I will take to the bank. There’s no reason for personal attacks. What does it solve? What… you just brought down someone’s self esteem? Good for you... Have a debate on the issues. Have a debate on facts. When push comes to shove… we are right on the issues. We all know it. That doesn’t mean we have to Mickey Mouse everything… make about issues… and do it with a smile… no matter what the other side’s face looks. Kill ‘em with kindness. A healthy respectful discussion of issues will get you more votes… I’m not kidding.

TECHNOLOGY, TECHNOLOGY, TECHNOLOGY – This is an area were we have been way behind. Here in Iowa, we can’t assume that, out in the booneys, that they don’t have computers. They may have a crappy internet connection… but theys gots themselves a computer and the interweb. Hell, my 85 year old Grandma in God’s Country Iowa is on here (love you Grandma). Let’s utilize these tools… organize and spread our message. Don’t just create a MySpace page and a Facebook page… because the other side has one… USE IT! Got something on your mind? Start a blog. For crying out loud, I think everyone knows my car was stolen. It took 3 minutes until I got my first phone call about it from a friend… and less than a minute for someone to comment on it on Facebook. What’s the issue of the week? Get it out there. Twitter it. Put it on your Facebook status… send an email that wasn’t copy and pasted from an RNC release. Put your comments in there… personalize it. Create a tiny URL and blast it. The sooner we figure this out… the faster we’ll catch up... the echo chamber gets larger than just putting up an ad on the 50,000 blow torch of the Middle West. And for you fiscal conservatives out there… most of this stuff is the right price… it doesn’t cost anything other than the time put into it.

EVERYONE AND EVERYBODY – If we are gonna get anywhere with the GOP in Iowa, we need everybody. I mean EVERYONE. Think about how much talent we have in this state. How much experience? We have a ton! It’s gonna take the great county chairs, the activists who have taken a seat back. It’s gonna take former staffers, consultants and former legislators. It’s gonna take the newbies, the oldies and the ones we don’t know about yet. You getting the idea… but it is true.

I know… I know, there’s egos involved and factions who aren’t crazy about the other. But how’s that losing thing going for you? You’re gonna have to find things where you agree and things you are going to have to agree to disagree and move the party forward. You just are. Too much is at stake… Am I expecting everyone to sing kubaya? Hell no? We’re gonna be in a hole for a while. We will need everyone doing something. And you’re gonna have to get along with the Ford guys, when you drive a Chevy… suck it up.

I’m not saying everyone has to make an X amount of calls and door knocks (but you will sometime)… I’m saying, utilize the talent out there. Have a good network to fundraise? Host a party. Can you make a pretty cool Metallica YouTube tribute that you made? Help out a local candidate and make a web video, get it on YouTube and blast it. Are you a good writer? Start a blog! (and God forbid you might use your actual name… I know.. I know… cheap shot… you know I love you anonymous guys) Are you well connected in your local Rotary? Forward emails to them. Do you have awesome Hawkeye tailgate parties in your backyard, every weekend? Invite local candidates to be there. Just to hang out. As crazy as this all sounds… utilize these tools. Republicans come in all shapes, all sizes and all sorts of talents that can help elect good government.

BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION – This goes for everyone. Don’t get fed up and go home. There’s too much at stake. There’s been some talk about meetings going around the state. Some are put together in board rooms… some with a few friends over coffee… a roundtable of folks over pitchers of beer… and some held in church basements. This is a good thing. But… once you gather, you think and talk… reach out… and unite. Your party needs you more than ever to be a part of a solution… not a problem that will setback a lot of the hard work that’s yet to come.

HAVE FUN - For crying out loud… we need to have some fun again. We need to get creative and have a little fun. That means having social outings, networking sessions, coffee clubs… get a group together to go to a Barnstormer game (sorry shameless plug, our 2009 schedule is out by the way… in case you were wondering). I had a couple of left leaning friends who went to an Obama event… not because they were sure they were voting for him… because a buddy of theirs had a good time and invited them… and turns out they had a good time too. The Grand Ole Party… well should be a party… not like Animal House or something (although would be cool)…. You get what I’m saying. HAVE FUN.

MAKE THIS AN IOWA THING… NOT A BELTWAY THING – You know, wouldn’t it be something for once… the State Party didn’t have to do every little thing the RNC asks for. Know what I’m saying? Sure, there are things you have to do because the RNC is funding it… but let’s give this Iowa solutions. You know… other than Iowa keeping it’s first in the nation status… I could care less who is the new RNC Chair… worry about Iowa first. But come to think of it… with all of the Iowans out in DC… we could utilize their help too. Even if they are deployed to their home towns on an election year…

Side note for randomnous… aren’t Iowans… modest Texans when it comes to their state? If you get what I’m saying comment on it.

ALSO, THE ANON COMMENTER IS RIGHT – Not all the good ideas come from Des Moines… “Huh?!?!?!? WHAT!?!?!?!” Yea, I said it.

REMEMBER THAT PHONES ARE GREAT… AND DON’T HAVE TO BE FOR GOTV ONLY – Phone calls are probably one of the single most important thing in politics. You turn out the vote on them. You raise money on them. You get your message out on them. But… they are great for catching up. Keeping your ear on the ground… if we’re ever going to find out what is gonna work and what isn’t… we need to work the phones to get reads from the ground. And guess what’s going to happen, you are going to find out that certain issues are gonna work here. Some will work there. And God forbid… volunteers and activists, who give numerous hours of their free time, will feel more appreciated. And you’ll be getting more out of your Blackberry than you even imagined…

DO WHAT WE DO WELL – Hey… just because you’re rebuilding your garage… you don’t have to change the type of tools that have been reliable over the years. Sure you may need to upgrade your jig saw or get a new air compressor with more power… but you don’t need to change the methods… just tweak it a bit. This goes for the 72 Hour program, absentee ballots, going door to door, ect. We can tweak it and make it more efficient. When we get organized… it’s actually pretty cool to watch… because it goes like clock work. Not in every case… but, you know what I’m getting at. Don’t forget what we do best… maybe rotate the tires… maybe add a few fuel additives to make it perform a little better.

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY – Speaking of things we’re good at… raising money. A lot of this comes with the people who raise the money (and are good at it) and the product we’re putting on the field. But this is a constant and one of the most important things… you want your 500 barnsigns to put on your properties and corners? It’s gonna take some money. That and did you know that the sun still rises in the east? Just checking…

99 COUNTY STRATEGY – Listen… I’m the last person who wants to paraphrase Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy. But, we have to be everywhere. There cannot be “Worthless” Counties anymore. There cannot be a county where we only have a GOP County Treasurer and no other party leadership in the county. We have to be actively out there working in weak counties, good counties, marginal counties and in some cases… regionalize the larger ones. I don’t care how you do it… you just have to be everywhere… if there’s people showing up to Grassley Town Halls when he visits every county, every year… there can be an effective County Party as well. It just takes some good Iowa grown ethanol in your Buick… and you gotta “have love will travel.”

90% OF EVERYTHING IS SHOWING UP – You gotta have a presence everywhere… in a fashion that is effective and appropriate. Maybe it should be 99%... you gotta be in every corner of the state.

WHAT’S AT STAKE – Terrace Hill, Terrace Hill, Terrace Hill… Let me tell you the worst kept secret in Iowa Republican politics… we’re gonna have a primary. But kids, we’s gonna need to unite after whatever happens… I’m as serious as cancer right now… We’re gonna have to unite. And move forward. FACT: if you hold the Governor’s office… you will have an infrastructure… a well oiled machine… appointments… you get to roll the table. This is an opportunity.

LEADERSHIP, LEADERSHIP, LEADERSHIP – With everything written above… ain’t nothin’ gonna happen without a leader. We’re frustrated. We just want someone to lead. It’s gonna take a good chair… and there’s gonna be a discussion. When you are on the phone lately… or checking comments on the blogs… Republicans are yearning for leadership. This is gonna be the debate for a while… who can do it? Is it an old face? Is it a new face? All I know is… it’s going to take someone… who can get along with all of the factions… the egos… the group of ladies who meet for coffee in a church basement… the group of guys at the country club who are arguing who should start at QB for Iowa… the 2nd shifter union crew at a local tap… someone who can communicate and be comfortable talking our message no matter the situation.

This is my little prayer… I hope when the fog clears… and when all of the factions have had their say… let’s unite! Let’s rally it up! And let’s strap on the helmets, do the work and create the Iowa Comeback… we can do it. I know we can. But… it’s gonna take some work… who’s with me? Whoever is the new chair… I’m gonna help… and to all of you reading this… let’s pull a Danny Ocean. “You are either in or you’re out… RIGHT NOW.” Are you in?

IN THE IMMORTAL WORDS OF DENNIS MILLER – “But this is only my opinion, I could be wrong.” If you just read this entire diatribe… please comment on it. Seriously guys… thumbs up? Thumbs down? How about a peace sign minus one? Let’s have a discussion about this… too much is at stake. There’s a comment section below. Just like the name of this blog… I will now take your questions, comments and insults.