Somebody must give El Paso County Republicans a swift kick and I regret to be the one to do it.
I am a lifetime Republican and attended many party speeches and events, met with leadership from time to time, worked too many years in the media, pushed candidates and issues since 1974. In the last two decades, Republicans handed Democrats the Southern Colorado electorate, with icing on top. In 2016, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, helping to push Hillary Clinton over the top in the state election. El Paso County has gone from a leading Republican bastion to a sorry also-ran.
First, we have to end our petty bickering and play the long game. If our candidate loses in the caucus, it is not good politics to take our toys and go home.
There are two keys to winning elections: registering new voters and turning out voters to vote.
Those new voters are not listening to our conservative talkers on radio stations, not on our social media. Those folks are not coming to our meetings and stopping by our booths, it takes personal outreach and a lot of it, every election, every issue. Not just the candidates, you. Waving the flag, virtue signaling, and glad-handing are not enough.
If every registered Republican in El Paso County volunteered three hours a year, we would be a literal beehive of conservatism. Voters are there, waiting to be energized. Political energy comes from the voter up, not the Party down; hope is a better motivator than fear. Conservative fiscal messaging is powerful, social conservatism less so.
Winning candidates focus on solving the problems that concern or anger the electorate at the moment, not our own ideology or political purity, not the mistakes of the Democrats, not the record of Ronald Reagan, not the latest blast from Rush Limbaugh. Events in Washington are hot items for about three days, gossip for about 24 hours. This is all noise without a signal. Listen to the voters, generate a purposeful signal.
Republican candidates and Party messaging are all over the place. Our own belief system is our own worst enemy, blinding us to issues on the other side. Our “base” is lost and confused. National politics rarely translates into local votes. Trumpism won’t save us in 2020.
We can’t solve problems or talk meaningfully about our own ideology until we win elections.
As we painfully realize, about two decades too late, elections have consequences in Colorado politics. Social clubbing, self-idealization, booths at events, screening potential candidates are not enough.
If the El Paso Republican Party is going to survive and prosper, it must get organized and get busy, and get busy at the retail level. Get good speechwriters. Focus on issues and elections we can win. Learn to lose gracefully and keep going. Build the brand on all media. Coalesce around proven conservative themes. It is not who we are or we know, it is how often we win.
Michael Lowery is a lifetime entrepreneur and long-time Colorado Springs resident.