Political parties, just like church choirs or high school football team booster clubs, are associations of like-minded citizens. Such associations have been found everywhere on the globe throughout all human history, whether or not they were specifically called “political parties.” From factions in the Roman Senate to parties in the German Bundestag, and whether peaceful or not, people have joined with others like themselves to accomplish shared goals in their societies.
George Washington is the only president not to have represented a political party. He actively opposed the “spirit of party,” as it, “serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.” Nonetheless, parties known as the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans developed during Washington’s administration. The Democratic Party, the oldest political party in the world, was formed in 1824. After the issue of slavery destroyed the Whig Party (1833-1856), the Republican Party was founded in 1854, specifically to oppose slavery. Political parties have remained an important part of the American political scene since.
But what do political parties, and in this case specifically the Republican party do?
Promote Conservative Principles
The Republican Party ultimately includes everyone who considers themselves a Republican, from the individual voter to the highest-ranking politician. For almost 200 years, the Republican Party has been the main organization that defines what a Republican is. The Party develops and protects the Republican brand. Republicans have always believed in individual rights, individual responsibility, rule of law, respect for our founding documents and institutions, free enterprise, solving problems at the lowest possible level, a strong national defense, and traditional social mores. These fundamentals have been shared by every successful society in the 6,000 years of recorded human history. While there will be disagreement on minor points, these principles form the core of what it means to be a Republican.
The Party promotes conservative principles in the media and with people inside and outside the Party. We hold ourselves and each other to these principles. Every four years, Republicans from all over West Virginia come together in conferences to make recommendations to the State Executive Committee about what our statement of beliefs, our platform, should say.
Elect conservative people
We will not get conservative people without first having conservative principles, but we will not get conservative policies without first having conservative people. Grassroots Republicans like you and I must recruit good candidates for offices throughout our state. Chairman’s Report 20 describes ways to discover who is a reliable conservative. Once we find them, we must labor alongside our candidates to help them win office.
To help good conservatives win office, we engage in myriad political activities, from giving resources to getting out the vote. Our door knocking, phone calling, letter writing, sign waving, event attending, float riding, and money giving makes the difference between getting a few votes from people who agree with us to winning a majority for our candidates. Everything we do matters.
As the state party chairman, I participate in everything noted above. Simultaneously, I raise money for party operations, represent our party to the media, mediate conflicts between fellow Republicans, address constituent problems, attend funerals, and send congratulation letters to high school graduates who have been active in the GOP. When trouble strikes, I lead our team to help Republicans who experience sickness or loss of a family member, property loss such as fire, or personal injuries. Many of the county chairmen and women do the same in their counties.
Combined, these efforts promote conservative principles and encourage conservative people to get involved, including running for and winning office.
Enact conservative policy
Winning candidates go to city hall, the county commission, Charleston, or Washington, to represent the people who sent them there. Governmental leaders did not get there on their own and are not there to pursue their own interests, but they still need help from their constituents as they go about the hard work of government. What do incumbents need from grassroots people in the Party?
- Expertise – No one can know everything about every issue, so grassroots conservatives with special skills, such as medicine, finance, education, economics, and others, must be available to educate our governmental leaders and representatives.
- Testimony – A legislator will often need public voices to support him or her to vote for a controversial conservative bill. We must provide such voices in the press, in public comments, and at the Capitol.
- A willingness to listen – Our representatives will sometimes vote in ways that puzzle those of us in the grassroots. When that happens, we will talk together in trust, because votes that do not make sense at first glance may be reasonable once we know the whole story.
- A willingness to speak – Cynicism about government in the US and worldwide is tearing down the people and institutions who are trying to make things better. Republicans cannot be silent as angry voices and violent hands destroy everything previous generations of Americans have spent their lives to build and to pass on to us. We have a great legacy, but we must defend it.
Legislators and the party collaborate throughout the year to identify, promote, and pass conservative legislation and advance the conservative agenda. This happens at all levels, from the courthouse to the state house and even to the White House.
America today finds herself in a slashing sea of division, demolition, and in some cases decay and despair. Republicans in legislatures and on Main Street protect our freedoms and restore our beloved land. As a group of like-minded citizens in the Republican Party, we must continue to promote conservative policy, elect conservative people, and enact conservative policies. Conservative values will win, they always have and always will, but the sea ahead is cold and stormy. By returning to our roots, remembering our long and proud history, reflecting on our core values, and recapturing our industry and charity, our ship of party will navigate treacherous shoals, survive buffeting winds, and bring America safely home.