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January 13, 2006

Not Your Governor's Republicans

Austin Dragon has a fire under him and the SoCal Republican Club is on a mission. Since the last time I was at the GOP club something of a transformation has taken place. They have moved from the abstract into the direct. And what they are directly fired up about is the future of the Republican Party in California. It's basically not good enough for them, and they are all about reform.

This is me and Joe Hicks. Joe Hicks is the former Executive Director of the L.A. City Human Relations Commission, where he served from 1997 to 2001 under Mayor Richard Riordan. He was also the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Multi-Cultural Collaborative, which served as an umbrella group for a diverse group of community- based leaders. In the early 1990s, Hicks was Executive Director of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the well-known civil rights organization founded by Martin Luther King, Jr.

For more than 30 years, Mr. Hicks has been an active figure in local and national issues related to civil rights and intergroup relations. His comments and opinion articles have appeared in local, national and international media. He also served a three-year term as a member of the Board of Governors for the California State Bar, and he continues to serve on numerous boards. In demand as a lecturer, Mr. Hicks is currently writing a book that chronicles his 30-year journey across the nation's racial and political landscape.

Joe was the evening's keynote speaker but at the top of the agenda was Arnold Schwarzenegger. As soon as the invocation and pledge was done, the first order of business was to give Arnold the boot. The club is strongly considering not supporting him from now on. The membership was highly frustrated over Schwarzenegger's statements calling the special election a mistake. These were the footsoldiers who had worked so hard to support his initiatives, and he punked out on them. It didn't sit well with them at all. Furthermore, the audacity to appoint a Democrat as his chief of staff was grating on the last nerves of the officers of the club. It's bad enough that he's sleeping with one Kennedy, now he's got two. They are referring of course to Susan Kennedy whose appointment has the GOP up in arms. The SoCal Club is ready for revolt and they like many other California Republicans want to stop Kennedy.

The resentment over this appointment runs deeply and it reminded members that the Governor did not campaign for Geoprge W. Bush. In California, the expected results for Bush by the GOP was 40%. He only got 37% and Arnold could have made that difference. Is he a Republican or not?

The theme for the evening was backbone and core values. Leading the charge was an invigorating Joe Hicks, speaking in a mode I haven't heard before, but entirely consistent with what I expected. He covered the common ground and set the tone for what we ought to be about, which is reform. I like what I heard.

  • Strong National Defense
  • Law & Order
  • Small Government
  • Lower Taxes
  • Keep Government out of my Life
  • Secure Borders
  • Pro-Business
  • No Racial Preferences
  • Faith & Family
  • That's who we are, and in that general order of importance, he stressed that this is what everybody ought to know. But he correctly argued that Republicans are more often defined by non-Republicans than not. This is the problem that's eating us alive in California, and everybody knew it.

    I brought Y with me who occupied herself with her Treo while trying to maintain a straight face. This was her first time being surrounded by Republicans and she made a brave go at it, but had to interrupt Hicks when he ranted against the racially themed graduations at Stanford. She managed to stifle after a while but again silently freaked out when the Minutemen were mentioned. When Hicks stood in principle against the Grutter decision and against GWBush for supporting Affirmative Action it was a charged moment. As he took Rice and Powell to task, his angle made an impression on me that makes sense in the context of the reform he's talking about. More on that separately.

    Also in attendance, aside from the couple dozen who braved the half-closed parking lot at the newly renovated LAX Plaza Hotel (It'll always be the Fox Hills Ramada to me) was Jeffers Dodge who's donning the yoke and trying to win the 47th Assembly seat. This is a daunting task - but for a noble purpose: to energize the 30,000 Republicans of the 150,000 registered voters. The 47th is my home district, from where I grew up that is. One of these days I'll have the time and money to run for office, but no time soon. Jeffers can be found over at Media Drool and his newest effort, LA Republicans.

    Jeffers has worked in the music business for most of his career, and like many of us is thinking twice about if what it has become is the best legacy for our children. So he's in the Republican camp and working to make things better. I like that spirit.

    All in all it was an invigorating meeting. Oh by the way, the young sponsor of Operation Thunderstorm showed up. Adopt a Marine!

    Posted by mbowen at January 13, 2006 07:37 AM

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    The California Republican party has been struggling. They could have had the state house in the last general election by uniting behind Dick Riordan, but because he is basically a centrist consensus builder, rather than a conservative ideologue, they allowed themselves to splinter and Bill Simon was the result.

    Arnold did not win because he was a Republican, he won because he was not Gray Davis and had name recognition. I, too, wanted Davis out, and was prepared to vote for Riordan if he had survived the republican primary, but he didn't. But I recognized what Arnold was (or was not) and thought his election was bad idea for California.

    So what are California Republicans going to do now? There hasn't been a republican US senator for going on 2 decades, even though Barbara Boxer has been targeted for defeat in the past. Are there any prominent women in the California Republican party? And do you have to be Anti-Abortion or no dice?

    Posted by: brotherbrown [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 13, 2006 04:06 PM

    So what is meant by "Faith and Family"? Knowing the California Republicans (a la Saint Peter [Knight]), does it simply mean Christianity Uber Alles, and keep them thar fags away; even the ones who are conservative?

    Posted by: the friendly grizzly at January 15, 2006 09:13 AM

    That's not easy to say. What I perceive is that California Republicans tend to be a twinge more ideological because this is a blue state. It makes me a little bit uncomfortable because I don't like hanging around people who are insecure, however I'm not so sure that California Republicans are apt to be shrill. It's just that the left over here tends to be so extreme, unlike in other parts of the country, that we're trading blow for blow.

    For example, it makes no sense whatsoever for the controversy over the Seal of the County of Los Angeles, get so huge. But the ACLU said they would sue if we didn't get rid of the cross in the emblem. The cross in the seal had nothing to do with anything but creeping liberalism. Since when was it offensive? And yet that's the kind of nonsense we get subjected to.

    Posted by: Cobb [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 15, 2006 12:56 PM

    That whole seal thing was so assinine I couldn't believe it. Then I found I COULD believe it when I saw how fast Zev Yaroslavsky knuckled under on the issue. The County Commisioners were such cowards on that issue. I'm not even Christian, but the whole issue being brought up was both offensive to me, and also struck me as pointless.

    I went to high school with Yaroslavsky. I found him both amusing and disgusting when I attended a reunion and watched him gladhand everyone. He tried it with me, and when he asked where I lived, I told him. (Not in LA County). He instantly dropped the smile, and spun like Baryznikov to glad-hand the next person in reach.

    He'll be governor some day.

    Posted by: the friendly grizzly at January 15, 2006 04:14 PM