I’ve had numerous contacts from local Republicans concerning my previous commentary about what I thought needed to happen for the local party to become viable again. Most were quite unhappy, while some stated it was time someone finally said it out loud.
I view myself as a centrist who is pragmatic, truthful, and brutally honest — even when it annoys people to hear the facts. I'm sorry if anyone was offended, but feel I presented the truth.
No one has accused me of being a left wing radical — at least not in the last 20 years anyway — until that column ran. While I’m sure the few local Democrats I still have left as friends — especially after expressing my opinions about Josh Brown’s candidacy — will find that amusing. But that should be a clue just how far to the right of Attila The Hun some local Republicans are. And therein lies the problem…
The facts speak for themselves. For the first time in 34 years Republicans held the county commission majority. If the party was unhappy with Patty Lent’s votes on certain issues, it should have “taken her to the woodshed" for a lesson in Republican ideals. Instead, they challenged her in the primary — with a candidate so unacceptable to the majority of voters in this county they elected an unemployed, unqualified, non-resident, 24-year old Berkeley-graduate — and did it by an 6,000+ vote majority!
Hello! Was that a clue to Republican leadership? Not if the recent “reorganization” is any indication.
The skills and experience Jack Hamilton brought to the table are far superior to Josh Brown's. However, the simple fact is, the majority of voters in this county are uncomfortable with single-issue, arch-conservative, property rights activists. They believe balance between the environment and property rights is not only possible, but very desirable. Republican leadership needs to understand that, embrace it in a way melding the party’s core beliefs with those of folks who actually vote and elect our government officials, and effectively communicate that message. I think conservatives spend way too much time talking only to each other — and not enough listening to moderates who vote. They tend to discount and devalue their opinions without ever exploring what formed those opinions. It all reminds me of a verse from a Jimmy Buffett song...
"Please don't say Manana if you don't mean it
I have heard your lies for so very long
Don't try and describe a KISS concert if you've never seen it
Don't ever forget that you just may wind up being WRONG..."
And then he adds...
"And I hope Anita Bryant never ever does one of my songs..."
The bottom line: What’s the definition of insanity? It’s doing something that doesn’t work over and over, and expecting a different result. Instead of electing a moderate like, say, Bev Woods, Earl Johnson, or even Lent, to chair the party and lead it towards the center — where the majority of local voters are — the party elects the very same guy who ended its county commission majority, as party chair.
I like Jack Hamilton personally, but he is an arch-conservative property rights activist. His election sends a loud and clear message that party leaders still refuse to “get it.” Right wing extremism doesn't cut it here. If we’re to have a viable two-party system in Kitsap County, it’s up to Republican leadership to have the courage and pragmatism to move towards the center if they want anything to do with deciding our future, or attract quality candidates to run for office. I just don’t see Hamilton doing that.
I view writing this blog as very similar to the fairy tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes." My job is to be the kid stating the obvious and shouting, "Hey! The emperor is naked." Shooting the messenger doesn't change reality. It’s time for the people running the Republican Party to face what most local voters already know — the elephant is naked.