Given that we all usually have room for improvement in our lives, resolutions are always a good idea. They are even more important when there is so much to be gained (or lost) for not bettering ourselves. So it is with this coming election year for conservatives.
With that in mind, the following resolutions are offered up for conservatives everywhere in 2012:
#1) Don't be a cannibal. No matter who you are for in any given race, don’t “go cannibal” on fellow conservatives over who they support. You might win for the moment, but you’ll lose productive relationships in the long run.
As for the presidential race, whoever the Republican nominee is, he will not be perfect and will probably be "high maintenance" from a policy standpoint. But as a movement, conservatives are much better prepared to deal with such politicians than in years past. And remember, ANY Republican president, no matter how squishy they may be, will have absolutely no choice whatsoever but to sign a bill repealing Obamacare. To borrow a phrase, keep your eyes on the prize.
#2) Focus on voter turnout. It's almost a cliché to say that "this is the most important election of our lifetime", but clichés are usually clichés because they're true. In this case, it's really true. It's really important in terms of building on the 2010 elections and taking the next step to advance the conservative agenda. But it's critically important in terms of stopping the Obama agenda. We sincerely hope to do the first, but we absolutely MUST do the second.
Elections are about turnout, plain and simple. If we don’t turn out the votes and we let conservatives stay home, we will lose. We can’t let that happen.
#3) Get local. Remember, the presidency isn't everything, and neither is Congress. Who do you think ends up running for Congress anyway? It's usually the guy (or gal) who has already served on a school board, city or county council. If you want to have a long term impact on the upper levels of politics, then you need to have a greater impact over who's playing at that level to begin with. And that means you need to get local.
The local levels are important in their own right, (you pay property taxes, right?), but they also serve as the farm team for the big leagues. Don't ignore them. Plus, races at that level have the benefit of being easier to influence. A little money and organization in these races goes a long way. A coordinated effort by conservative groups to let their members (whether they live in such a district or not) know who they have endorsed and where to send their money can have a bigger impact on Joe Smith for State House than it ever could on Suzzie Smith for Congress.
#4) Focus on the Republican Party. It's great to have conservatives start their own local groups, protest and be heard, but it's even better when those same folks also make an effort to influence the Republican Party by joining the local precinct organizations, run for precinct office, run for delegate to the county conventions, county office, state delegate spots and so on. Volunteer to serve on committees. Local party organizations are usually borderline desperate for volunteers. If you're willing, and you've got a pulse, you're usually welcome, (and if there are enough of you, it doesn’t matter if you’re welcome or not).
The more conservatives who flood party meetings and are elected to party positions, the fewer problems we will have with “the establishment” when it comes to pushing the conservative agenda. Just get involved! Then encourage other conservative activists to get involved as well, and network with them to have an impact on anything that matters.
#5) Coordinate, coordinate, coordinate! In the last two years or so, the conservative movement has grown tremendously. Many people have gained valuable experience, and new networks and connections between activists have been created. But what is needed now is to leverage that muscle with greater emphasis on sharing information and coordinating activity.
Start a web page listing your endorsements and local candidates’ information and donation links. Or start a listing of key dates and locations for the Republican Party organization process in your area. Add any details you can about how the process works and what positions are up for grabs. Email it to every conservative you know. Start an online group (use Google, Yahoo or Facebook) and coordinate with others to decide who wants (or is willing) to do what.
The bottom line is to leverage our muscle by coordinating and focusing on places where that muscle can be overwhelming and have a long term impact.
To conservatives everywhere, I hope this year is full of resolution to have a greater impact on the things we all care about. And that we do a better job of keeping those resolutions than we do in losing weight.