To the editor:
Michael Tierney’s response letter, “Proud Reagan Catholic in 51A,” misrepresents Bruce Konold’s letter, “Two good candidates.” I know, because Konold’s letter originated from a conversation between the two of us following the March 8 Republican convention in Eagan.
The backbone of our local party is, indeed, older, white, traditional and largely Catholic. Replace “Catholic” with “evangelical” or “mainline” and you’ll cover most Republican caucuses. The issue is neither age, color, nor religion, but establishment and the disconnectedness, isolation and distorted sense of entitlement that it breeds.
Demographic changes, locally and nationally, have left the Republican Party needing support beyond traditional constituencies. Where will this support come from? A small but powerful clique insists that we moderate our political positions to appeal to voters who are superficially “like us” in race, social class and economic status, but share few of our political and social values. Such a strategy guided Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign, which lost with an ironic 47 percent of the vote and dragged down our ticket nationwide. It appears to be the Andrea Todd-Harlin campaign’s strategy in the House District 51A election.
The second approach is to broaden the party’s base by leveraging a diverse coalition of voters from differing ethnicities, age groups, religious traditions and social and economic positions, but who share similar political and social views. This approach requires direct outreach into these diverse communities and inclusion of their members in our party’s power structure.
This is Victor Lake’s approach, but it faces fierce resistance from elements of the party who see it as new, uncomfortable and even a bit frightening. For a few, it threatens a loss of power. This begs the question: Is it better to share power with newly-minted Republicans who aren’t “just like us” – or to continue ceding elections to the Democrats?
And this was precisely Konold’s point. Like an arthritic spine, an establishment inflexible to new realities will cripple the body it once supported. Konold, like all ministers, knows the epitaph of a dying church: “We’ve never done it that way before.” It is also the epitaph of a dying party. We have a choice to make.