Former Republican County Commissioner calls his party out for a new playbook

The following editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer yesterday. It is called “My GOP needs a new playbook before it’s too late” and is written by Matthew Ridenhour, a former Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner. I pasted it in its entirety, with a link if you wanted to see the official version. It speaks for itself.

“The GOP has a difficult future, and I’m not sure whether the party and its faithful understand this. If we are going to have a successful party — indeed, a party at all in 10-15 years — we need to have an honest look at where we are and determine an admittedly difficult path forward. The GOP has firmly planted its flag in the rural areas of our state and across the country. This has led to many victories at the state and federal level, but it is not a viable long-term strategy. The problem is simple — rural areas are not growing. They may be solidly red, but college grads are moving to cities like Raleigh and Charlotte — not to Mayberry. There have been a multitude of books, research, and analysis around the death of small-town America. Cities will become so blue and populous as to turn red states blue. In 2018, both in Mecklenburg County and across the nation, Republicans lost scores of seats in urban and suburban areas. Many wrote this off as typical midterm election results, but in 2020 Republicans did not fare much better. In four years the GOP lost the House, Senate, and presidency. How do we regain our once-reliable suburban voters?

Our message must match our actions; voters look for authenticity. We purport to be the party of individual liberty, but what liberties do we promote besides the Second Amendment? We say we support our LBTQ+ and Log Cabin Republican friends, but then we attempt to regulate what occurs between consenting adults. We are slow to repeal blue laws. We are hesitant to support even medicinal use of marijuana. We say we support religious liberties, but when we open every meeting and convention with a Christian prayer, is that welcoming to people of other faiths? We say we are the party of fiscal conservatism and limited government, but then pass laws like the Patriot Act, create the Department of Homeland Security, launch the Space Force, and oversee some of the largest periods of government spending in the 21st century. Again, this all comes across as inauthentic and hypocritical. The GOP often states it is a big-tent party, but if voters do not feel they belong in the tent, then is it really? Voters in 2018 and 2020 decided that our tent was not big enough for them. If we continue to lose would-be GOP voters, then we will not gain back the ground necessary for long-term electoral success. We will continue to lose the suburbs, older Republicans, and young people.

Voters in urban and suburban areas talk about issues like affordable housing. Student loan debt. Homelessness. Economic mobility. They do not talk about “God, Guns, and the Constitution,” though they may love all three. This does not mean the GOP should become “Democrat-lite.” Rather, find and promote conservative solutions to issues facing urban and suburban voters. Accept that Republicans engaging on these issues and others are not Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) but instead are Republicans fighting for voters on a very different battlefield than our friends in rural areas. Support the rights and liberties of others, so long as they do not encroach upon our own rights. As Ronald Reagan said: “The heart of conservatism is libertarianism”. Some Republicans will object, and counter that we are poised to take the House, and maybe the Senate, in 2022. I do not disagree, but that will only belie the decades-long voting trends in urban and suburban areas. We must change our message and our course for long-term success. Let’s Make the GOP Big Tent again.”

I agree with this Republican’s comments. Yet, one thing the party can start with is to support those who are telling the truth and calling out those who are purposefully misleading people. Ridenhour will be dismissed as a RINO, which is a shortcut label by a person without a good rebuttal. Yet, he is not alone in saying this among Republicans. He just needs more support in what he is saying.

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16 thoughts on “Former Republican County Commissioner calls his party out for a new playbook

  1. Note to Readers: When I see editorials like this, I see political courage which should be applauded, not derided. I also know intuitively that supporters who ape the tactics of the former president will name call Ridenhour to discount his message. Probably the greatest talent of the former president is to get his followers to not pay attention to his detractors. It is truly Wizard-of-Oz-like as he gets people to ignore the person behind the curtain.

    • Wizard of Oz Like? Yes, but I think it is more than just magic. Nefarious leaders throughout history have always had charisma, even if it is misogynistic in nature. This is seen as strength and power and that is attractive to some who do not look deep into the political philosophy of the speaker.
      I was surprised at this editorial and it gives hope for some political debate that might be constructive, not destructive.

  2. That was a good post Keith. I can see there will be cheers when Manchin resigns from the Democrats , probably from both sides as he’s held them to ransom long enough. But the main cheer will be from the Republican side as they will now be the Majority unless Manchin goes independent. What has surprised me is that there are no Republicans ready to vote with some of the Democrat’s policies given that the Votes for All is a fair issue and needs to be in to get rid of the damage the immoral changes to the voting system being pushed through in every Red State. The Infrastructure Bill isn;t one that benefits Blue States more, everywhere needs it. Any senator worth his/her salt knows another dose of Trump would be bad for the US. Where is the courage to stand against him before the party and the country is run by the likes of Matt Gaetz?

    • David, thanks. I left a message for my Republican Congressman when I saw Republican US House leadership say not to vote to hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for not honoring a subpoena. This is beyond asinine. Regardless of party, if Congress cannot support their own subpoena power, then they are saying it is OK for anyone to blow them off. Mark Zuckerburg could say no thanks to the next subpoena. Yet, I am sure many, including my Congressman will vote not to hold Bannon in criminal contempt. This is the legacy of the former president – if you do not like the press or the law, defy it or denigrate it. Keith

  3. Note to Readers II: A letter to the editor in response to this “GOP Playbook” editorial, said:

    “I agree with columnist and former Mecklenburg County commissioner Matthew Ridenhour about the need for the GOP to update its message to stay viable in the future. But he forgot the single and most urgent change needed – renunciation of the big election lie, perpetrated by former President Trump. Until the GOP embraces reality, refinements to their message won’t make a big difference.” CR, Charlotte

    I agree with CR’s point 100%. Republicans are being lied to and our country needs more courageous Republicans to stand up to those who are knowingly misleading people starting with the former president.

  4. Hi, Keith, I can not comment on politics in another country. However, I have noticed other political posts you have written, also, and I admire that you take a stand about things and are brave enough to have a voice. It brings to mind that quote by Voltaire, “I wholly disapprove of what you say—and will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  5. This was a courageous statement considering the frenetic and inward looking mindset of a large number of Republicans. They seem possessed of a mirror image of UK Labour ‘Corbyn’ wing of the Party; that is they shout long, and loud enough, decrying anyone within their own grouping who opposes them, then all will be well.
    And by some strange act of Faith they will be able to supply a stable and long term government.

    • Roger, as you have noted, emulating bad behavior is not a road to good governance. I left a message for my Congressman and the House minority leader bewildered by their stances to not hold Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for defying a subpoena of a House committee. In essence, they are saying it is OK to blow us off. Keith

      • It staggers me that these folk have no sense of their own history as a legislative body and are willing to play the irresponsible adolescent and courting the mob.
        The scenario will not play out in the USA, but there are many nations where the military by this stage have said ‘enough’, of course that very, very rarely plays out well and mostly certainly never does for everyone.

      • Roger, true, but our military did discuss how to control the whims of the boy king who preceded the current president, should he try to nuke someone because they hurt his feelings. Keith

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