Today the NDGOP sent out their first ever GOP Update, which mimics a daily email and social media blast the state’s Democrats have been doing for some time.
We’re excited to announce the first issue of GOP Update, an at-a-glance look at the big stories happening in… fb.me/2OfP7he3a
— ND Republican Party (@NDGOP) April 19, 2013
I’ve questioned why the NDGOP hasn’t embraced this sort of strategy in the past. Where the Democrats use their state party apparatus to back up the agenda of their elected leaders, the NDGOP’s party machine seems to go to sleep between election cycle leaving legislators and other elected officials on their own.
Why? In talking with influential NDGOP party leaders, they tell me the problem is ideological (which I pointed out in this post). The party has become so large, encompassing so many disparate points of view, that it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to create a unified party message. That, absent any strong leadership from top elected officials such as Governor Dalrymple and Senator John Hoeven, leaves the party with an ideological vacuum.
Put simply, the NDGOP as a party doesn’t want to wade into issue debates because they’re afraid that taking a position on something might make the party smaller. Which is true. Once you start taking a position, by definition you’re going to lose some of your base.
But what good is electing people if it isn’t in pursuit of a platform of ideas?
Which brings us to today’s emailing, which illustrates perfectly the NDGOP’s problems. Highlighted in the email is the legislative vote for expanding Medicaid, something included in the extremely unpopular Obamacare law which the state’s Republicans have not only opposed verbally but have committed the state to fighting legally in the past.
Already I’ve got emails coming in from conservatives scratching their heads over the NDGOP highlighting what is really, from the conservative point of view, a policy failure. But I’m sure there are quite of few Republicans in the state who are very satisfied with the Medicaid expansion.
By taking a position on this issue, the NDGOP has put itself squarely on one side of a growing rift in the party. Which is why, previous to this, the party tried to avoid this sort of thing.
Though I’m no fan of the Medicaid expansion, it is nice to at least see the party entering the fray. For far too long in the Hoeven/Dalrymple era the party has stayed quiet on issues. But end goal of political parties should be to advance ideas, not just elect candidates. Elections are a means to an end. For the NDGOP in the past, elections have been an end unto themselves.