Tuesday, January 06, 2009
The Real Outreach Begins With YOU by Akindele Akinyemi
The more I talk to people I know in my neighborhood as well as in places like Inkster and River Rouge they are begging for leadership that works for them. They want a government that people can touch. While the powers that be are still taking the urban community for granted they still are leaving the poor, the homeless and even the educated in the dark.
When my fellow conservatives speak on reaching out to the urban communities in Michigan and especially in areas such as Detroit, Muskegon, Flint, Saginaw, and Benton Harbor we do not need to look in the graveyard for the answers we are seeking. In my community the name "Ronald Reagan" is looked upon as a negative. While former President Reagan ushered in a new wave of conservatism it ceased to exist (in its present form) when President-elect Barack Obama was elected on November 4, 2008.
Now we have young people today in the GOP who ONLY heard of Ronald Reagan. Some were too young or were not even alive when Reagan launched his "revolution" back in 1980. Some were too young to remember Newt Gingrich's Contract With America in 1994 to take back the U.S. House of Representatives.
This leads to one of the core reasons why I am running for Outreach Chair of the Michigan Republican Party. Urban conservatism through education equals silver rights for all of us.
Silver Rights is a concept that documents and validates the next phase of civil rights: the empowerment movement not only of American minorities, but of majorities as well. That is, we transition beyond giving a fish, beyond teaching to fish, to owning the pond itself.
If we are going to usher in new concepts into urban communities then urban conservatism is what the doctor ordered. Part of an urban conservative agenda is my Covenant for Detroit model that several people running for Detroit City Council is beginning to embrace.
The Covenant for Detroit are based on nine steps to improve city government.
1. Fiscal Responsibility: A balanced budget/tax limitation proposal and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Mayor/City Council, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
2. Reclaiming Our Streets: A REAL anti-crime package including stronger truth-in- sentencing, good faith exclusionary rule exemptions, and cuts in wasteful spending to fund prison construction and additional law enforcement to keep people secure in their neighborhoods and kids safe in their schools.
3. Encourage Personal Responsibility: Work with state lawmakers to discourage illegitimacy and teen pregnancy by prohibiting welfare to minor mothers and denying increased benefits for additional children while on welfare, cut spending for welfare programs to promote individual responsibility.
4. Real Family Preservation: Child support enforcement, tax incentives for adoption, strengthening rights of parents in their children's education, stronger child pornography laws, and an elderly dependent care tax credit to reinforce the central role of families in the City of Detroit, shared equal parenting rights which equals to children needing both parents.
5. Educational Reform: Repeal the tax credit in the Michigan Constitution to allow Universal Tax Credits for parents and children in Detroit, expansion of theme based charter schools, private scholarships for children in failing public schools, prayer in schools, replace multiculturalism with patriotic education, encourage private sector participation in math and science education, fighting adult illiteracy with private based programs that will create job readiness.
6. Detroit Restoration : A S500 per child tax credit and creation of Detroit Dream Savings Accounts to provide middle class tax relief.
7. Job Creation: Small business incentives, capital gains cut and indexation, neutral cost recovery, risk assessment/cost-benefit analysis and unfunded mandate reform to create jobs and raise worker wages.
8. Citizen Legislature: A first-ever vote on term limits to replace career politicians with citizen legislators in Detroit. Also, vote City Council by districts and place term limits on each council member. Mayor of Detroit should have term limits.
9. Senior Citizens: Provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let the elderly in Detroit keep more of what they have earned over the years.
These nine steps I have been taking into the community since last summer and I have been doing this since. Notice, there are no major elections going on right now. Why should the Republican Party wait until election time to campaign in the urban community (if we even do that) when Democrats have their farm teams set up in rural areas of Michigan? Then you add Jon Stryker to the mix and we have mass failure for the GOP across the state.
I watched the RNC Chairman debate last night on C-SPAN. Ken Blackwell mentioned a platform called Rebuild the Party. This is a 10-point action plan to modernize the GOP. It was set in motion days after the collapse of the GOP on November 4, 2008. While I read the platform in its entirety I still see some weak points.
(1) Rebuilding Our Grassroots Infrastructure
Our technology should give Republican activists the ability to connect with fellow activists at the precinct level. We must encourage the growth of standalone volunteer communities, giving them the tools to organize themselves online, with the official party taking a step back and not trying to control them. We can't anyway.
Where is the core strategy to build urban infrastructure? Again, I am bringing this up because the next war will not take place in places like Newaygo or Alpena, Michigan. The war will take place in Detroit, Muskegon, Benton Harbor and Flint. And here is a BIGGER question. How do you reach people who may not own a computer or do not have Internet access? Technology is critical to the success of the party but human interaction and get this, building physical relationships are paramount if we want to be successful. This is where urban conservatism comes into play.
(2) In the last campaign, the Republican Party banked on its strong get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation, but even the strongest turnout operation could not have overcome the Democrats' stronger recruitment, registration and persuasion efforts in the early phases of the cycle.
Democrats walked my neighborhood by the hundreds this year. I live in a mixed community but we have our fare share of problems. Crime and foreclosures are a serious problem in my community. That did not stop the Democrats from coming over here. However, I never saw a Republican walk my neighborhood. This can change. The first thing we have to do is overcome our fear factor. Let's admit it we still have negative stereotypes against each other, against races, and even gender. This is why I am willing to sacrifice my time, if elected as Outreach Chair, to form focus groups to deal with race and politics. We have to deal with it if we want to be successful in 2010.
I cannot count on my fingers how many times I have walked in predominately White neighborhoods not just passing out literature but actually TALKING to constituents not just about the issues but hockey, soccer and gourmet dinners. In Southwest Detroit, where we have a predominately GROWING Hispanic community, I attend Cinco De Mayo festivals, patronize the local Hispanic businesses down there and even help children with ESL or prayer.
My point is you have to forge a RELATIONSHIP with people if you want them to donate money, support your cause and respect and love you as an individual and group.
(3) Recruiting a New Generation of Candidates
By 2012, the Republican Party will field candidates in all 435 Congressional districts in America, from inner city Philadelphia to suburban Dallas, and our leaders must be held accountable for progress towards this goal.
State party chairs must also be held accountable for progress towards filing in 100% of state legislative races, with funding tied to progress towards this goal. The state houses are our bench, providing future leadership not just in Congress but in governorships and other statewide offices. They will also drive the 2010-12 redistricting cycle. The RNC must play a constructive role in recruiting and training candidates from the state house on up -- and not just at the federal level. Just as Major League Baseball could not function without a vibrant minor league ecosystem, we must get back to basics and grow and nurture our party where it works best -- closest to the people.
Undoing the damage to our party's brand among America's youth will take more than new slogans and hip spokespeople. It will mean making young voters the face of the Republican Party, and not just another target group with its own bulleted list of "outreach" talking points. To that end, the next Chairman should commit to a simple goal: working towards a Republican Party where at least 40% of our challenger and open seat candidates for Congress are under 40.
This is my take on this. First, we need to find CREDIBLE people to run in these positions. Second, I am not interested in just filling these seats with a warm body. That is a waste of resources and time. And is it realistic to fill all 435 Congressional seats in America? The 14th Congressional District was left open and John Conyers skated to victory. But even if the 14th here in Wayne County had a candidate filing your paperwork in May is not enough to beat Conyers, who has been in office since Genesis 1:1 when God created the heavens and Earth.
My highest recommendation would be (1) running for school boards and city councils in small urban areas and (2) some cities such as Flint and Muskegon. There is a strategic reason why you want to do this tactic. You can do all the training at RNC headquarters to 25,000 people for candidate recruitment but have we begin talking about the next 25 years? The way you do this is building 21st century schools. This includes advanced math, science and technology and implementing civic education from K-12 with core values and core principles where ALL children can grow up and appreciate the United States of America.
Whoever controls the school boards in urban and suburban areas control the flow of money and curriculum that the children are exposed to. If you never thought about that then I am blessing you. County parties should take the time to review Emancipation, Revelation, Revolution which gives an accurate account of the relationship between Blacks and the Republican Party.
Now, when you control the flow of quality education then you began to build leadership. By the time our children graduate from high school they will be ready to register to vote and sign up as precinct delegates.
For those who has been elected to school board or city council are eligible to run for state representative and in some cases state senate. One thing that makes me upset are the number of Black Republicans who run for state representative or Congress on a Reagan platform in a place like Detroit and lose big. Under true urban conservatism, Black Republicans who run in the inner cities in Michigan need to talk about real-time issues such as mental health, entrepreneurship, promoting quality education (including options), pro-life issues (crime, infant mortality and homicide), family restoration (including addressing single parenting), creating quality health care by promoting an intelligent health care system and regional transportation. When we create a platform that people can touch we will go further on our quest within the city limits.
Lastly, when I spoke to a 45-year old White male who voted for John McCain in Ecorse, Michigan three weeks ago I asked him what he thought the Michigan GOP's biggest shortcoming was. He quickly responded that it was the inability of the state party to communicate with Blacks and other racial minorities. He was right, and in a nation that is fast becoming much more colorful, this ongoing failure eventually will be lethal for conservatives.
The inner cities here in Michigan are disproportionately nonwhite and immigrant. Consequently, ill-concealed attempts by the Right to stoke resentment of immigrants in recent elections was a huge, long-term tactical mistake. Our problem is just not Black but reaching Hispanics as well.
That's why this party needs someone who is homegrown, who lives in his community, is active in saving our youth and wants to see our party move in a grand way. That is why I want you to support me for Outreach Chair of the Michigan GOP. Are you ready for the outreach experience?