How We Fight

A chance swing by a friend’s Facebook wall today brought me this wonderful piece of wisdom:

“I’ve lost a hell of a lot of people over the last ten years or so. Turns out I miss almost none of them. Most I’m very glad about.

“I’m saying this just in case any of you is going through a tough time. You’re finding out who your real friends are. Anyone who isn’t there when you come out the other side, you’ll be happy about it.

“Yes, you will. Pray for them, but don’t beg them to come back. There’s a reason they’re gone – and that reason is: They don’t deserve you now.”

Now, I feel somewhat certain that this post was meant in a non-political context. But this sentiment hit me hard, thinking in particular about my political life.

During my ten years as an activist, I’ve occupied many different roles – I’ve worked on issue campaigns, I’ve been a talk show host, I’ve been a volunteer state director for an organization working to bring our principles back to the forefront of American politics, and now, my latest role is in GOP party leadership.

It’s been a weird ride so far.

You see, I spent most of the first 9 years of my political life hating the GOP as an organization, angry that it had hijacked my principles and taken them in a different direction. I tried half-heartedly to be involved in the party to see if I could change it from the inside, only to be blocked by those I immediately wrote off as Establishment hacks. Mostly, I have just spent time vilifying the party for not doing all the stuff I thought it should be doing – foremost among them, guarding the party brand (or more accurately, rebranding the party to align with the principles in the platform) by requiring adherence to the platform from the officials it helped elect through its insanely deep pockets and immense influence over the electorate.

I was absolutely convinced that the party held all the strings – which candidates were chosen, how much funding they got, how the campaigns were run, and how the officials acted and voted after being elected.

Wow.

I mean, really – WOW. WOWWWWWW.

That is so much power to assume is at the disposal of a single organization, let alone a single person. To hear it stated like that, it would seem that Reince Priebus was single-handedly responsible for both our Congressional majorities AND the fact that they were acting like idiots.

Of course, in the Liberty Movement, that narrative served us well. Being the underdog is an enviable position – you don’t actually have to do much, but you can raise one hell of a stink about what’s not happening without drawing a ton of attention to the fact that you are at least partially at fault, because, well… you didn’t do much.

Now, I know I participated in that narrative when I was on air. I get it. I am somewhat culpable for setting up the situation I find myself in now.

But I’ve also learned something – with the fluidity of how to be involved in politics (as evidenced by my own varied political resume) comes the wisdom of seeing the same problem from several different angles. As a member of those issue campaign teams, I learned about the different roles on the team and how they contribute to electoral victory – the chair, earned media, fundraising, volunteer coordination. As a talk show host, I learned the importance of mobilizing the base, and how moving that base can contribute to victory. As a volunteer state director for Convention of States, I saw the marriage of principles with effective, targeted action, and how those things can come together to, you guessed it – achieve electoral victory.

In each role, I learned a skill set important to that role. What I didn’t entirely process until my election to party leadership was perspective.

Not long ago, a wise political friend pointed out to me that politics is a three-legged stool, and you need all three legs to succeed. One leg is the candidates themselves – they need to be principled, well-trained and charismatic when communicating their vision. Another leg is funding – there needs to be a vigorous plethora of funding organizations ready and willing to participate in the races on behalf of those candidates. The final leg is the party – the infrastructure that lays the groundwork for those well-funded candidates to be elected.

This infrastructure varies from county to county in Colorado – each county faces its own challenges. In Denver, where I am, we face a huge registration disadvantage. Our challenge is doing outreach into the unaffiliated community – fully one-third of the voters in Denver – while simultaneously training up a vigorous and enthusiastic class of Precinct Committee People, encouraging (and facilitating) voter outreach by those PCPs, preparing for caucus, gathering and vetting data, preparing for Get Out the Vote efforts, and, of course, fundraising to make all this happen.

The other dynamic at play is that the bylaws of our party, both at the state and county levels, demands pre-primary neutrality: if more than one Republican candidate has declared for an office, the party cannot take sides.

This is a key dynamic to understand. It means that even though I’ve been a liberty activist for a long time, the key attribute I bring to party leadership from those years is my insistence on integrity, transparency and accountability. Period. I can’t pick the candidates – it’s against our bylaws, and honestly, I think it’s better that way. Removing pre-primary neutrality would corrupt our system faster than anything else I can think of.

Basically, I have one job to do: win elections for Republicans. That’s what I was elected to do, and I intend to bring all my varied experience and perspective to this position to achieve exactly that.

Choosing candidates is not my job.

Effectively funding their campaigns is not my job.

My job is to turn out the vote for the Republican nominee in all the races we get to vote in.

Okay – so let me get back to the original purpose of this post, which goes back to that post from my friend’s Facebook page.

My journey to this position started several years ago when I was talking to one of my mentors in the Liberty Movement. She told me that what we really needed to do was to be elected to party leadership – to get a seat at the table. That was my incentive for accepting a position on the slate that was elected to Denver GOP leadership in February. I knew that Liberty needed a voice on that slate, and I felt strongly that I was one who could provide that voice.

What has amazed me is how quickly I’ve been vilified since doing EXACTLY WHAT WE HAD SET OUT TO DO FOUR YEARS AGO. How quickly the narrative has turned from “Good for you!” to “You’re a sell-out!” And how little any of these critics have tried to understand what it means to bring integrity to this position, and how that plays out in the dynamics I discussed above.

I knew I’d probably lose friends when I came into this position. I honestly shouldn’t be surprised at the reaction – I’ve known for some time that many of the people I shared the front lines with in years past have become bitter, self-righteous and dedicated to a cult of interference instead of the dynamic, effective movement we started as. Not everyone – not by a long shot – but a select few. People I did consider friends.

But I won’t miss them. I’ll pray for them, but I won’t beg them to come back. They don’t deserve me now.

Those who do are those I see when I look left and right in those trenches. Those folks who have dedicated themselves to being part of one of the three legs of the stool. Those who understand that our principles are nothing unless we win – and who understand that winning without principles doesn’t mean anything.

We need people dedicated to seeing our principles enacted through effective action. I have chosen my role. Have you?

 

13 Comments

  1. Steve

    Before becoming a county party officer, I frequently decried the establishment GOPers. But I’ve noticed something. And that ‘something’ is this: Without them, we can never have a majority in the legislature; and that mean we never get to set the agenda. It is the party with the most noses that gets to set the agenda. And so Kris, like you, I have come to a different view of ‘the party’. “The party” is a broad mix of people doing their best to keep a herd of cats together….together enough to win majorities.

  2. Scott Gray

    You are fantastic. I wish i could help. Doing what i can in Alabama to fight for conservative values. Keep up the fight, keep winning.

    • Kristina

      Best thing to do is get involved. None of this happens without good people taking effective action – and you, Scott, are one of the best! So glad I know you!

  3. Well, I never thought I’d hear these things from you. Though I’m never shocked by your wisdom and intellect–I expect both in bulk–such a change of direction is stunning.

    How many times did we discuss this stuff on the air?

    By the way, I wish you still were on the air.

    • Kristina

      Andy, you and Cori have been very influential in helping me to see this reality. I’m sorry you hadn’t heard it from me before, as these things have been coming clear to me for several months and I’ve been fairly vocal about it in commenting, though not as much in posting. This is not so much a change in direction as it is a maturation in my thinking. As I said in the article, the one thing I didn’t really process until being elected to leadership was perspective. I am developing that now.

  4. Kristina, I hear you. However, I have to say that in Colorado there’s still a long way to go for most Republicans. There’s still leagues of distance between the Party platform and so many of its members and candidates.

    And my best example of how far most Republicans are from Republican principles is shown in all the vitriol and malice directed at the author of one of the greatest contributions to principled reform of government in Colorado: Douglas Bruce.

    Most Republicans have treated him as badly as, or worse than, any Democrat in the state. It is shameful. Is Douglas Bruce a hard fellow to get along with? Yes, he is. His abrupt manner and ascerbic wit is, many times, NOT charming at all. Or, even downright obnoxious. I’ve likely known, campaigned and worked with him as long or longer than most anyone in the state. I’m still here.

    Why? Because he’s right on TABOR, on most law and on the shabby leadership Republicans have supported in Colorado for decades. He has been relentlessly and publicly attacked and excoriated for daring to propose and PASS TABOR since its passage. He’s even been jailed multiple times FOR TABOR.

    Don’t kid yourself. The ‘presstitutes,’ media and establishments have used a near-totally corrupt court and legal system to convict and imprison him multiple times, denying him due process and pursuing bogus charges, willy nilly and totally outside the public’s understanding and perception. I know because I’ve been right there with him while everyone else but a very few ran away. I’ve read virtually all the charges and legal briefs, watched the prosecution and judge’s decisions. Taken over his affairs when they haul to jail. From the beginning.

    It’s currently happening now in Denver court. AGAIN. And nobody bothers to do anything or even pay attention. I ashamed beyond measure at Republicans and so-called “TABOR lovers.” So many benefit from this man’s efforts and either do nothing and look the other way or join the pitchfork crowd rabble hoping for his punishment just because he’s supposedly so “nasty.” Republicans who ignore what has happened, rationalize it (“Well, he deserved it! He’s so mean!”) disgust me.

    I hope this changes in the future. REAL Politics can be a VERY nasty business and when someone comes along that can take abuse and give it right back, everybody hates him, even though he DELIVERS FOR THEM.

    Maybe Trump is teaching everyone a valuable lesson, here.

    • Kristina

      Jeff, I understand what you’re saying, and yes, I am one of those TABOR lovers, as well. I don’t believe I’ve ever publicly commented on Mr. Bruce. But I believe you downplay something that is very important to understand – personality does play a very key role in the success of the party as a whole, and Mr. Bruce’s personality is… difficult. I understand that he’s been an important leader in implementing one of our very best safeguards against a runaway government here in Colorado, and he obviously has your undying loyalty, which I admire. But it is simply not possible to rely on efforts from 25 years ago to sustain one’s ability to demand a followership, especially in light of such a lack of charisma.

      It’s really a matter of creative, collaborative leadership while maintaining one’s principles. Note that I am NOT talking about compromise. But I am talking about learning how to get along with others who don’t run 100% in the same direction as you, and learning how to advance those things you do agree on. We have some exemplary senators in our state senate who are amazing models for this – always at the top of the CUT and POL scores, never compromise their values, but constantly finding ways to work across the Republican spectrum as well as across the aisle. That is the kind of effective action we need to take to advance our principles. It is my fervent belief that focusing on that 20% – or 40%, or whatever % – you disagree with someone on and trying to destroy and block them because of it is absolutely antithetical to advancing our principles through effective action.

      • Kristina,

        You’re missing the entire point. People that truly get the most important things done–like the Founders–are almost always the toughest people to work with…..in business, sports, technology….anywhere I’ve ever worked. Read history. It’s replete with complete assholes that get things done. The people that get things done are simply very difficult to work with because they can see things others can’t AND KNOW IT

        The REASON this country is in the complete mess it’s in is because so many get their feelings hurt, are easily offended and for the most part, more obstacle than anything else. About the only the ‘pleasant compromisers’ do for us is keep us on the slow road to hell.

  5. Joel Miller

    The the EPCo RINO, corporate welfare-loving chair used the same argument. “Why not support someone who supports 60% of what you agree on?” The reason is because the remaining 40% is the critical stuff that comprises the entire reason for supporting the party…like repealing Obama Care, 2nd Amendment, defunding PP. At the state level, upholding TABOR and not violating it with fees here and there. Or one if my favorites: Owen Hill’s support of in-state tuition for illegals. What happens now is that uninformed Republican voters elect a “60% Republican” and think their job is done–no need for accountability. No $ or time for 60% Rs. Might as well have a D in there because at least then R voters know it’s the wrong guy.

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