This past weekend I attended the California Republican Party’s bi-annual (yes…we really do them twice a year) convention. This convention held in Indian Wells/Palm Springs area and was attended by over 1,000 members of the state party central committee, alternates, guests and staff.
It was a great weekend of heat – from the near 100 degree temperatures of the desert (which was fine b/c I spent most of the time near the pool), but also from the intense friction surrounding the looming battle of the official-4-year redraft of the party platform. The rhetoric was intense…and as usually goes on in the world of fashion and entertainment, California is getting an early look at the looming battle that will soon engulf the entire Republican Party.
Long story short, the CRP Platform is a long, rigid and generally a socially conservative document. We start from scratch every 4 years. There are two camps who have coalesced this year – the “big tent Republicans” who want to boil down the Platform to our core Republican principles – limited government, personal responsibility, strong national defense, & economic freedom. Supporters of this move include Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Party Chairman Duf Sundheim, and other groups that don’t generally consist of old straight white men. The opposing camp is one that is generally driven and obsessed by socially conservative issues…which rightly counts itself as the majority of the state party central committee voting membership. Their draft copy of the Platform was 3 times longer than the Arnold version – and goes overboard in terms of opposing so many different groups of people. I mean, it REALLY takes the Party in the wrong direction.
This is what this Party Platform exercise boils down to – One camp (Arnold) wants to make this party of inclusion…bringing in so many different ideologies that agree on our major values as a Party. And the other side is a Party of exclusion…excluding those who don’t buy “the whole package” (ie: gays, immigrants, women, environment, labor, etc).
This past convention was just a preview of the actual party platform vote that will take place in February – but nationally this should be a signal to the entire Party. Is the Republican Party going to adopt a policy of inclusion, or exclusion. For the last 5 years, we’ve been pushing a policy of exclusion – we hate the gays…we hate the immigrants…we hate Muslims…we hate the poor. And not only did it result in a bad 2006 election, it took us in the wrong direction as a nation.
So what are we going to do? Are we going to stick our heads in the sand and “keep our Party pure”…or are we going to wake up to the reality that this is a diverse and multifaceted world we live in today, and that we can find strength by focusing on our true, original, and core values of limited government, personal responsibility, strong national defense, & economic freedom. We’re having that battle now in California…and the rest of the nation take note. Just like an Arnold movie, this debate “is coming to a theatre near you!”