I’ve been pretty quiet about the changing of the guard at the Harris County Republican Party, which is now official and Chairman Paul Simpson has his core team in place. Gary Polland commented on the change yesterday in his Texas Conservative Review, so I’ll use his comments as a starting point.
Paul Simpson, new HCRP Chair elected on a platform of “restore and rebuild”, has appointed his new leadership team, which is all cut from the same cloth – older, white, inside the loop Republicans.
The question TCR is asking is where is the diversity in age, major voting groups, and party factions? This is of concern because as the county grows, the percentage of voters represented by the new leadership gets smaller and smaller.
The reboot and rebuild this party needs requires getting out of our comfort zone and growing new leadership from voters under 35, from leaders in the emerging or important voting blocs like Asian Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans and the Tea Party.
One other thought, the first group Simpson should be reaching out to are the social conservatives who were overwhelmingly with his opponent. It’s time to come together. As the leader, Paul Simpson should be making the initial effort.
Okay, I know, what the heck is Polland doing criticizing the party? Pot calling kettle, etc. You’ll have to ask him why he is choosing to speak out now after all the years of not criticizing the former chairman. Whatever the reason, he has some valid points and Simpson needs to recognize them if he is going to keep the Harris County Republican Party strong or increase its numbers.
It was disappointing that Simpson chose not to engage in the process to put the repeal of the Houston UNEqual Rights Ordinance on the ballot in November. Sure, if you ask him directly, he supports the repeal. But the fact is that he did nothing to help the coalition that was successful in gathering enough petitions to place the recall on the ballot. He specifically refused multiple requests from leaders of the coalition that he send out email blasts to the party’s email list. Leaders have to lead. Organizing with no goal in mind other than to “keep the county red” is going to prove futile. BTW, I would give that same advice to state party chair Steve Munisteri. A slogan of “Keep Texas Red” might sound great to the base but it surely isn’t going to expand the party. Ideas and principles matter.
As many of you know, I was a thorn in former Chair Jared Woodfill’s side for many years on the party’s finances. To be blunt, they were in shambles when I first started harping on him. To his credit, Woodfill finally came around and did what he needed to do to ensure that the party was on financially sound footing. Despite rumors that were floating around during the transition of leaders, the party is now in solid financial shape. The party started the year with roughly $100k (state + federal) in the bank and when former Treasurer Josh Flynn filed his last report on June 15th, they had roughly $100k in the bank (state + federal). That was the best mid-year report in years and we need to give credit where credit is due.
Simpson has promised to “correct” the party’s financial situation by bringing in new money from the business community. His theory is that if the business community is happy with the direction of the party, they will fund it, taking pressure off of grassroots activists, candidates, and elected officials. The fruits of his efforts are already being felt. New HCRP Treasurer Cindy Siegel’s first finance report shows that the party received three large donations in the first days of the Simpson administration. Homebuilder Dick Weekly gave $50,000, car dealer David Peacock gave $50,000, and investor David Underwood gave $15,000. That’s a big haul.
Pro-worker or Big Business?
I don’t know if it was intentional or not but Polland’s newsletter also contained a very interesting and thought provoking piece on the future of the Republican Party as a whole.
Should Republicans Be Pro-Worker
Or In Bed With Big Business?
An Interesting Perspective To Consider
Large business interests generally operate in their own best interests. So when they coincide with conservatives they are with us and when not – well they’ll be with the other side.
There is no question we are in an economic era when the top 1% has about 20% of the national income. In 1980, it was only 8% of the national income. And while this was happening, the CEO to work pay ratio has gone from 30 to 1 in 1950 to the current 500 to 1!
The discussion that Nick Hanover, a successful west coast businessman, has started is interesting and worthy of continuing. His answer is to raise wages. He believes that the fundamental law of capitalism should be, “If the workers have more money, businesses have more customers.” He argues that if businesses paid workers a higher minimum like $15 per hour, taxpayers wouldn’t have to make up the difference in food stamps, Medicaid and rent assistance, and they also would increase payroll and sales taxes, thereby reducing the federal debt.
TCR Comment: Interesting points here, and with the dramatic increase in executive pay we have not seen a reduction in senior manager jobs, in fact there are more than ever. So this may disprove the old adage that higher minimum wages reduce jobs.
It’s time for conservatives to have an open discussion about this issue. Remember, our biggest polling deficit in the 2012 election was showing the common man we cared about people like them by our side, as did Rick Santorum. Maybe issues like this are worth a taking a look at.
He’s exactly right about business interests operating in their own best interests. No question about it. Simpson’s dilemma is going to come when the activists in the party oppose any number of things – amnesty, gay marriage, UNEqual rights ordinances, etc. Weekly needs cheap labor to build cheap houses. The grassroot activists in the HCRP are very much against amnesty. The Greater Houston Partnership supports the UNEqual rights ordinance. The grassroots of the party voted overwhelmingly three days ago to support the repeal of the UNEqual rights ordinance.
An even larger issue is middle class workers. Although Polland got the name wrong, there is a movement of sorts led by Nick Hanauer to “correct” the weakening of the middle class and working poor. Kudos to Polland for bringing it up – every time I’ve tried I’m branded a RINO, a liberal, a socialist, etc. And I’m certain that Polland will get the same criticism. But we would be wise to heed Hanauer’s warnings, whether you are a Republican, Democrat, Green, Libertarian, Independent, Constitutionalist, whatever.
But let’s speak frankly to each other. I’m not the smartest guy you’ve ever met, or the hardest-working. I was a mediocre student. I’m not technical at all—I can’t write a word of code. What sets me apart, I think, is a tolerance for risk and an intuition about what will happen in the future. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now?
I see pitchforks.
At the same time that people like you and me are thriving beyond the dreams of any plutocrats in history, the rest of the country—the 99.99 percent—is lagging far behind. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.
But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.
And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.
Read the entire piece – The Pitchforks Are Coming – For Us Plutocrats at Politico.com
I’m glad that conservatives are willing to talk about the problems we have coming in the future if we continue down the path we are on. I’m not saying that Hanauer has the solution – but he is talking about it. And I’m not saying that Rick Santorum has the solution – but he is talking about it. Maybe it is time for a few of us that are in the middle class to talk about it as well.
I hope that Simpson is willing to stand up to his large donors from the business community and accept their money without strings. Pro-worker and big business do not have to be mutually exclusive.