Dear Republican Leaders:
Please allow me to introduce myself. I am one of the millions of dedicated Republicans who are the backbone of our party. Yes, I am one of the so-called “spear-carriers” who raise the party’s money, who recruit the candidates, who manage the campaigns, who walk the precincts, who put up the yard signs, who knock on the doors, who attend precinct caucuses, and who serve as delegates to county, state, and national conventions. In short, I am one of those dedicated people who make it possible for you to occupy a position of leadership within our party.
In my case, if you will allow me a personal reference, during the course of more than fifty years as a party activist I have provided services to the party that are far beyond what is normal for political activists. During the period 1963-66 I organized and led a statewide election reform program in Oklahoma which brought the secret ballot to counties and precincts all across the state for the first time since statehood. It was the beginning of the political renaissance that has made Oklahoma the reddest of red states in 2019.
A decade later, in 1975, I registered the very first corporate PAC with the Federal Election Commission, pioneering the corporate PAC movement and creating a level playing field with organized labor for the first time since the 1930s. We brought enough new money into the political process to allow Republicans to take control of the U.S. Senate just five years later.
Then, following Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981, I proposed the formation of an RNC committee for the sole purpose of funneling money into states during the decade of the ‘80s where Republicans had the ability to gain control of at least one house of the state legislature prior to congressional redistricting in 1991. Chairman Fahrenkopf then created the National Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (NRLCC) and in 1994, in the absence of widespread Democrat gerrymandering, Republicans took control of both houses of Congress.
The point is, in spite of all the hard work and dedication of millions of nameless, faceless, Republican activists, is it too much to ask that our state and national leaders show a bit of creativity while exercising their leadership responsibilities? Allow me to mention just a few recent examples of Republican “messaging” failures.
In June 2016, when it appeared as if Donald Trump would be successful in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Democrats were hard at work developing ways to either defeat or destroy him. One of their principal efforts revolved around a strategy to paint him as colluding with Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. As a critical part of that effort they needed “optics;” they needed to plant real-life images in the minds of the American people of Trump campaign officials colluding with Russians.
The Trump organization should not have been surprised when a Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, approached them, offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Understanding the value of good “opposition research,” especially that involving foreign affairs, three of Trump’s senior aides agreed to meet with Veselnitskaya at the Trump Tower in New York on June 9, 2016. But when the Trump advisors realized that Veselnitskaya had no Clinton information that was of any real value to them, the meeting was quickly adjourned.
The Trump people wasted a few hours of their time, but the Democrats had the valuable “optics” they needed to launch their “Russian collusion” scheme. After all, how could the Trump people ever prove what was not said behind closed doors? Within hours, the mainstream media was all over the Trump campaign with charges of collusion. But what was most distressing… and most damaging… was the fact that not a single Republican leader ever mentioned publicly the fact that Veselnitskaya had met with officials of Hillary Clinton’s opposition research consultant, Fusion GPS, both before and after the Trump Tower meeting. Coincidence? No, it was a setup that even a blind man could have recognized. It was also a political victory of huge proportions for Democrats and a political blunder of gigantic proportions for Republicans.
When President Trump met with Vladimir Putin at their Helsinki summit on July 16, 2018, the two leaders met briefly behind closed doors with only their interpreters present. The mainstream media were outraged. What did they talk about? What concessions did Trump make in order to gain approval for a luxury hotel in Moscow? Outlandish speculation followed outlandish speculation. Yet not a single Republican leader had the good sense to divert the criticism by suggesting that, like the surreptitious Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch meeting on the tarmac in Phoenix… while Hillary Clinton was under FBI investigation for violations of the Espionage Act… Trump and Putin discussed nothing more than their golf games and their grandchildren.
More recently, as the first of at least four Central American refugee caravans arrived at border crossing points in southern California, it became necessary to detain adult family members while their claims of asylum were being heard. And since the available living facilities for asylum seekers was not appropriate for large numbers of children, it became necessary to separate parents and children for a short period of time.
It provided Democrats with a perfect opportunity to paint Trump administration immigration officials as cruel and heartless brutes who took great pleasure in snatching helpless children from the protective arms of their parents. It was not a pretty picture. However, as the days and weeks passed and the criticism mounted, not a single Republican leader could be heard mentioning the obvious… which is that more than 1.3 million men and women currently serve in the U.S. armed forces. Of those, roughly 55 percent are married and 43 percent have children. When those servicemen and women are deployed to overseas war zones they cannot take their children with them. The parents, many of whom have been deployed more than once, are separated from their children for many months at a time.
Furthermore, the United States has the largest prison population in the world. At any given time, some 2.2 million adults… one out of every 115… are in jail or prison. More than 5 million American children (7 percent of all U.S. children) have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives, many for the rest of the parents’ lives. Yet, as Trump administration officials were lambasted, day after day, with charges of breaking up family units, not a single Republican leader could be heard setting the record straight. Once again, Republican leaders found it far more convenient to allow a Republican administration to be unfairly savaged by the radical left.
On January 21, 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her candidacy for president of the United States. Yet, not one single Republican leader has had the brains or the courage to do the necessary arithmetic. They should have understood in an instant that U.S. law requires an immigrant to have permanent residency status (green card) for a minimum of five years before applying for U.S. citizenship. Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, emigrated to the U.S. from southern India in 1960, while her father, Donald Harris, came to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1961. They met while attending UC (Berkeley), they married, and their first daughter, Kamala, was born on October 20, 1964. Simple arithmetic should tell us that neither of her parents could possibly have been U.S. citizens when their daughter, Kamala, was born. She is, therefore, not a “natural born Citizen” as required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution and cannot serve as president or vice president of the United States.
Now, in the early days of 2019, Democrats have presented Republicans with one of the finest political gifts in a lifetime. In a Thursday, January 31, public appearance, Virginia’s Democrat governor, Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, gave his full-throated endorsement to a newly-introduced bill that would allow physicians to murder post-partem infants just minutes after birth. Overnight, Northam became the toast of the Democrat Party. No politician could have better satisfied the bloodlust of the radical left wing of the Democrat Party.
But what a difference a day makes. On Friday, February 1, it became known that the 1984 yearbook from the Eastern Virginia Medical School, Northam’s alma mater, contained a photo of him dressed as either a black-faced Negro or a Ku Klux Klansman. Outrage was instantaneous. Those who had fallen all over themselves trying to kiss his cheek on Thursday, clamored to drive a stake through his heart on Friday. But, as might be expected, that was not the sentiment of all Democrats. Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, a black man descended from slaves, continued to support his governor… all in the interest of party unity, of course.
It was the perfect metaphor for the soulless abomination the Democrat Party has become. Unfortunately, as the party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton self-destructs before our very eyes, it appears to be almost a non-event among Republican elites in Washington. They appear totally unwilling or incapable of playing the political game exactly as the Democrats play it… down and dirty and for all the chips.
Part of the job of a political leader is to make it clear to their constituents what the opposition party is doing in their name and, as honestly, as directly, and as persistently as possible, shine a light on their failures. But now that liberals and Democrats have dug themselves into a very deep hole, isn’t it time that Republican leaders picked up a shovel and filled it in? Or have all my efforts of the past half century been just another pointless intellectual exercise?
Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.