As a co-founder of one of the largest California Tea Party groups (SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition), I often am asked why I choose to remain a registered Democrat. In part, it is because the state Republican party doesn’t inspire much confidence.
Or, as I like to put it: Better an honest enemy than a deceitful friend.
Let me start by describing my first encounter with the California GOP politicos, which was during a 2009 rally at San Diego’s Spanish Landing. A contingent of Republican Party operatives snuck in 5 minutes before the end of the Tea Party and shanghaied all the film crews at the event, in order to give the impression that a “new” GOP was somehow directly involved with this non-partisan effort. Fortunately, several of our members interceded with the press and the real story of the grassroots activism was conveyed.
Another take-over attempt occurred just prior to the determination as to the timing of the California GOP presidential primary this year. When it was thought our state might have moved its primary to an earlier date (which may have increased its impact on the outcome), magically a professional looking “San Diego Tea Party” website appeared. The organizer of this website then began trying to smear SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition as being “not genuine”.
The reason: I am Democrat.
And so I shall remain into the foreseeable future.
It’s not because I think the Democratic Party is perfectly wonderful. My affiliation allows me to to convey a more independent message to those who remain attached to the party of Thomas Jefferson, which I think is important to maintain as I now live in a one party state. Also, the Republican Party in California provides no incentive for me to change.
Katy Grimes in the Flash Report notes that the decline in California’s GOP started with the historic recall of Governor Grey Davis, and “all bets were off” once Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected.
Right after the Nov. 6 election, a friend told me that it’s Republicans who have to change. “If you want any resemblance of America in the future, the hard core Republican idealists are going to have to change and get with the times,” he said. “Business is not business as usual anymore. Times are changing and the Republicans are going to have to change along with it or fall into the abyss.” He said that Romney lost the race by sticking to “old worn out social issues.”
I disagree. I think the Republican’s problem is a lack of commitment and focus … and occasional whining. California Republicans are a clear example of what happens when people sell out principles, and compromisers are in charge.
As an example of the lack of focus, the San Diego Republican County Chairman had his Twitter account suspended amidst allegations of “Twitter squatting” by using the names of rivals. This tactic did a disservice to all the California Republicans who donated to the party, expecting new social media tools to be effectively utilized.
For the time being, independent conservatism in California continues with citizen activists of all political stripes, as the state Republican Party operatives remain more “show” than “action”, in terms of spreading the message of limited government or fiscal responsibility.