It will be the first step in building a serious party. But, only a first step.
Most folks understand that when something is broken you only have two choices. Fix it or replace it.
The Republican Party in Virginia has been broken for a long, long time.
Early this year I wrote about the urgency of returning to block and tackle politics. It’s no more than basic politics 101. The mechanical, hard things that have to be done from the precinct level up to win elections. Once done, the hard work at the precinct, county, then statewide level become the transmission belt for ideas and policies that inspire and build movements. They reflect who we are, and what we believe in.
Nowhere in Virginia is this more necessary than in its largest county, Fairfax, at just over one million residents. In a little more than a generation it has gone from pale red to bold blue. Some have argued that the massive demographic change alone in Fairfax County makes losing a forgone conclusion—and permanent.
Perhaps. But are we really ready to dismiss the Party’s losses so cavalierly?
There is no doubt that the population has changed dramatically over the last forty years. Today, over 30% of the population is foreign born; and the population is 16% percent Hispanic, 20% Asian, 10% African-American, and 51% white.
But to ascribe all of the political woes of Fairfax Republicans to demographics diminishes our new residents, and inherently calls into question the real world value of our own constitutional heritage, and the ideals of personal liberty and economic freedom.
Are we to believe that none of these new “demographic” voters came to the United State expressly to get out of the less free—and therefore less prosperous countries—they came from, many fitting the President’s alleged, but now famous description? Do the ideas and values of the American experiment not motivate any of them?
The truth is that we’ll never know until we try.
But, even if all of the above is mostly true, do Republicans meet the future on their knees, broken and defeated? Or do they fight like they have freedom to lose?
I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I do know that if we don’t return to real block by block, precinct by precinct politics, then all is lost. In Fairfax County on March 17th, Republicans have an opportunity to do just that by electing a new County Chairman.
Republicans have a choice—they can continue doing what they have been doing—because it has worked swell.
Or, they can elect a new Chairman who wants to break some eggs and make a new omelet.
Two men (both of whom I know well) are running.
Mike Ginsberg, is a former 8th Congressional District chair who has since married, had a child, and moved into Fairfax County. He would bring to the job a congenial personality and a portfolio of supporting middle of the road, go-along get-along politics. In the campaign for Chairman he has progressed from no platform or detailed “to do” list to, now, mimicking his rival’s detailed plan for Fairfax County.
The biggest downside is that Mr. Ginsburg would be a part-time Chairman—at best. More likely he would chair a monthly meeting. He’s a father to a young child and the Senior Counsel to a major area government contractor; realistically, how much time could he spend bringing change to the Fairfax Republican Party? Very little, obviously.
The other choice is a retired Marine Corps veteran and corporate executive, Tim Hannigan, who is the editor of the Fairfax Free Citizen and conservative activist. Tim, who ran for Chairman unsuccessfully two years ago, has prepared a detailed, precinct by precinct plan for the type of nuts and bolts rebuilding that is, really, the last hope for salvaging Fairfax County and capturing new voters.
His biggest upside? Mr. Hannigan has pledged to be a full-time Chairman, devoting the next two years to putting his bold and detailed plan in place and raising the money required to run a full-time party operation.
This single election of the Fairfax County Chairman will either cement the trajectory of the Fairfax Republican Party into further irrelevancy, if that is possible. Or, it will be the first step in building a serious party. But, only a first step.
The Fairfax County Republican convention will elect the new chairman on Saturday, March 17th. You don’t need to be a member of the FCRC to vote, but you do need to be a delegate registered for the convention. Register here: http://fairfaxgop.org/2018-convention/.