Saturday, September 28, 2013

“Open Letter”




c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(8-13)




For this writer, an occasional detour into the realm of political humor has generally yielded interesting prose. In particular, I have written a few times about fictional meetings between Carrie Hamglaze, an imaginary local figure of renown, and Reince Priebus, Chairman of her beloved Republican National Committee.
Recently, a friend on the social networking website “Facebook” posted a report about Mr. Priebus being upset with an apparent bias in favor of Hillary Clinton at CNN and NBC. The person sharing this link observed that he was acting like Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
I was struck by his comment more than the story itself.
Pondering this post, as the night deepened in hue, I began to think about actually writing Chairman Priebus. The idea seemed surreal.
Days elapsed in careful consideration. Yet my desire to speak only grew stronger. Eventually, I sat down at my desk and began to work:

Reince Priebus, Chairman
The Republican National Committee
310 First Street
SE Washington, DC 20003

Dear Mr. Priebus,

I am a small-town newspaper columnist from northeastern Ohio. Let me confess here, for the sake of full disclosure, that I am a registered member of the Libertarian Party.   
Recently, I read a report about your plan to boycott CNN and NBC, with regard to the 2016 presidential primary debates. This was attributed to your unhappiness over potential documentary programs about erstwhile First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A follow-up story indicated that you were considering a panel of debate moderators like radio heavyweight Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity from Fox News.
While your plan has been predictably been cheered by the conservative blogosphere and Fox News itself, may I respectfully offer the opinion that such actions only serve to promote the idea that your party is out of touch with everyday Americans.
To use an old description, you are “preaching to the choir.”
Winning national elections requires more than simply rallying a small, tightly-knit group of influential volunteers within the party. It means that one must speak clearly and effectively to diverse groups across the country, with a common message.
Honestly, it can be convincingly argued that the mainstream media is not friendly to conservative candidates in general. Yet to hear protestations of the kind you have voiced is unseemly for someone of national renown. Even those who view the GOP favorably might well conclude that you are thin-skinned and cranky after hearing the threat of action against these major news networks. I do believe that the right to engage in political opposition, as Hillary herself once observed during the Bush administration, is a sacred American tradition.
But I do not believe that media bias, or political dissent, caused your group to take a drubbing in 2012. Instead, it was because potential candidates like Condolezza Rice, Susana Martinez, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio were all sitting on the sidelines, while Mitt Romney ran like Forrest Gump toward his moment of epic failure.
The general opinion of Republican logic is that your thought processes are consistent with a doddering herd of rich, old, white men.  In 2012, you did absolutely nothing to dispel such thoughts. This seems a bit tragic, with so many compelling figures not participating in the contest. 
Even wireless talkers like Michael Savage observed that your propensity toward blandness was astounding. He likened adding Rep. Paul Ryan to the ticket with Governor Romney as being like combining “Wonder Bread and white rice.”
True believers in the party were excited by this combination. But the election returns demonstrated convincingly that few other people shared their enthusiasm.
Imagine: Condi Rice debating President Obama in 2012. Post-election, I might be writing this letter from a completely different perspective.
Imagine: Blunting Democrat charges of “racism” on the issue of illegal immigration by proposing a completely new US strategy – placing importance on the security, stability and liberty of Mexico, our geographical neighbor, instead of distant nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, this note might be resounding with a completely different tone.
Imagine: An end-around on the healthcare reform debate by offering many working-class citizens better access to coverage and control of their plans, through small business networking, thus lowering the cost?
Imagine: Responding to charges of voter suppression by advocating voter education and greater citizen participation at every level? By proclaiming a sense of “duty” long lost in much of the nation?
“The Party of Lincoln.” It is a label your members are fond of using. Consider that the one word most appropriate for Abe’s entire presidency might well be “courage.” Consider also that the GOP of 2012 could be described with a single word. But one less flattering in character - “predictable.”
With hindsight, one might imagine that the GOP plan for 2016 would involve sober self-assessment and new-age thinking. But instead, you are making headlines for a familiar reason. Sour grapes over the media. This seems particularly puzzling because the media itself is in a state of transition. Social networks, video streaming and news aggregation sites have redefined the world of dispersing useful information. There has never been a better time for conservatives than today. Many alternatives exist to the polished parade of network television reporters.
Your party is strong here in Geauga County and across much of Ohio. But going forward, one might react with befuddlement at your inability to use your own toolkit to repair the damage of losing two presidential contests in a row.
A simple question awaits your answer: Is the party ready to focus on a 21st Century vision, or merely the shrill, cartoonish squawking of cable-news pundits?
A point to ponder when you have finished preaching to the GOP choir.

Yours Respectfully, RDI

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