All too often we who press for constructive change in an organization dwell so much on our criticisms that we fail to praise positive activities and outcomes. Effective criticism always should promote positive change, and the effective critic should note when positive change occurs.
Over the last few months, I was identified on one local blog as being one of a handful of “garage-door politicians” within the Harris County Republican Party. After I stopped laughing over that post, I realized that I had never heard of that term before (or since). I think the author(s) meant the term to mean that they thought that all I did was criticize, and that I had never done anything to promote or work for positive activities or outcomes for our local party. Although I know those authors know better, and I am proud of the political and civic work I have performed in two different states since I was a teenager, it is true that continual criticism, no matter how much it is warranted and matched by action, can appear to add nothing positive over time.
So, I want to follow my last post that contained a few criticisms (and more than a little sarcasm) directed to the last two months of primary activities with a few positive credits.
First, I want to thank Steve Munisteri—for fulfilling the promises he made to us two years ago, for agreeing to run for another two-year term, and for running an exceptionally fair and open convention. After the convention, I looked back to a post I had written on the eve of the last convention in which I endorsed Steve. Re-reading that post after all this time, I was amazed to realize that he has lived-up to all of the reasons I mentioned as the basis for my support—that is rare in any endeavor, let alone in politics. Steve, I look forward to the next two years of your leadership.
Second, I want to thank Bill Crocker—for his lifetime of service to the Republican Party in Texas, and for a wonderful farewell speech to the convention. Bill’s description of what a “big tent” should mean to the present and future of our party, and of the importance of all of three major segments of conservatism (economic, social, and national security) to our party and its future, was consistent with Reagan’s vision for a New Republican Party back in 1977. When I hear men like Bill speak of his hopes for the party, I realize that Reagan’s vision is still a work in progress that we all should be committed to finish, but I also realize how far we’ve come toward that realization. Bill, thank you, again for all you have done, and will continue to do, for our party.
Third, I want to re-iterate my congratulations to Jerry Patterson, and to the courageous effort of so many people working on and with the Platform Committee, who addressed the immigration issue in our platform with a positive, proposed “solution.” This effort was not politically easy, nor is the new plank perfect by any measurement. However, the approach is a bold and positive example of how we should try to actually implement our values and principles through public policy, rather than just talk about them. We should honor this effort with serious consideration while it is debated nationally over the next two years.
Fourth, I want to thank all of the candidates and their supporters who participated in the 2012 primary, but whose campaigns have now ended. I know how hard this effort was for you and your families, though I can’t begin to imagine the added stress you endured because of the lengthened primary season. Although your feelings may still be a little raw, please begin to remember all of the wonderful people you met, and all the wonderful people who supported and worked with you, and then stay involved. We need your new enthusiasm, imagination and energy for the challenges we will face over the next few decades.
Fifth, I want to thank Donna Detamore for the class she showed in handling the outcome of her judicial race. She was right to ask questions about how the vote changed and where the ballots came from, based on having gone to bed the winner with 100% of the vote being shown as counted. She also was right to accept the answers and evidence she was given and to congratulate Theresa Chang on her victory. Donna, I want to thank you and Paul for your long service to our party and for this class act.
Finally, I want to thank those of you who reacted so positively and strongly to the concerns I raised about the impact of slate mailers, and about the appearance of a pay-for-play system, in our primary in Harris County. Something seemed to awaken in many people in late March and early April as we faced a potential “speakers’ tax” for the Senate District Conventions, and had to deal with the demons we created in our party over many years. I have never witnessed such an immediate and broad-based positive reaction for change from all sectors of the base of our party. Let’s not forget this issue after the fall election, but let’s commit ourselves to address it in a way that doesn’t infringe on anyone’s legitimate right to free speech and doesn’t simply replace one kingmaker with another kingmaker, but instead promotes a more level and fair playing field for our candidates in our primaries. Moreover, let’s help our friends in neighboring counties where these slates are creeping into their primaries to fight this battle now, rather than let it build and fester for 20 years like we’ve done in Harris County.
As I said in my last post, I am going to work with GOP club leaders after the run-off to try and mobilize our members to effectively support the Victory 2012 effort here in Harris County, and to supplement the HCRP effort. Until then, I will largely be on vacation, so good luck to those of you in our run-off races, and I’ll see you at the finish line.