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Monday, Jan 21 2013 11:00 PM

SHAWN BLACK: A house divided cannot stand, as we saw in November with the GOP

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    Shawn Black

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The second inauguration of President Barack Obama is now history, but Democrats will continue to bask in the afterglow of their re-election and fiscal cliff victories. Republicans, on the other hand, will continue to participate in a post-election circular firing squad.

Tragically, the Republican leadership continues to lay out the sad excuse that the losses stem from "changing demographics," which infers that minorities are something to be charted on paper rather than valued as people.

As the party of Abraham Lincoln, Republicans value freedom, opportunity and foundational values that reflect the heart of America. As we begin 2013, the GOP is a divided party. And as President Lincoln said, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

The national tea party movement and the 2010 takeover of Congress was just as much about a conservative rebellion against GOP leadership as it was about government spending. A trip down memory lane reveals that problems began to surface in 1992. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were out of office. It was at that critical crossroads that the GOP leadership quietly embarked on an ambitious policy of promoting consultants and lawyers to steer the party and establish new blueprints for its future. They determined, all by themselves, that winning over independents and supporting moderate positions and candidates could accomplish overwhelming GOP victories. And while that strategy works to a degree when kept in a well-balanced framework that sustains core Republican principles, the GOP allowed the consultants to steer the GOP away from its stalwart conservative and Christian base. And we all remember that it was this very base that propelled Reagan and Bush to impressive victories in 1980, 1984 and 1988.

Propelled by fresh money and support, these GOP leaders actively fought and chose establishment, moderate candidates over conservatives 2-to-1 and campaigned against minority and younger candidates. Unfortunately, the GOP also relegated minorities, Christian conservatives and seniors to GOP "sweatshops," where they made campaign calls and stuffed envelopes for the party's chosen candidates. While rough and tumble politics is fair game, undermining the enthusiasm and the heart of your base is not smart leadership.

It was GOP leadership that unfortunately anointed moderate Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. It was GOP leadership that dogmatically supported former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now a Democrat and fought against new-generation conservative Marco Rubio. And it was the GOP leadership that gave us New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. I'm sure that all Republicans can rest well at night knowing that the Republican-turned-independent is counting our calories and battling our bullets.

I was recently contacted by a Republican telemarketer from Washington, D.C., and the call aptly illustrated the party's national disarray. When asked if I could donate money to the Republican National Committee, I asked if the GOP had a candidates' mentoring plan and if the GOP had established any state committees to recruit and train minority GOP members in communities across the U.S. She had no answer. For the GOP to win future elections and, more importantly, to win the hearts and minds of ordinary Americans, they must do better than this.

We are excited to see what the future holds for Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, newly elected Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and others. However, these positive GOP examples are few and far between.

The future of the Republican Party depends upon a balanced team of minority, conservative and moderate leaders. The next generation of Republicans is smart, savvy and values one word: Trust. They won't blindly follow their leaders and paid consultants that say one thing and do another. For this GOP generation, they will look for leaders who believe that actions speak louder than words.

Today's GOP leadership cannot build a future by lying to or bullying its base. And the GOP would be well-advised to create a positive party for the future that will attract the next generation of leaders and statesmen.

Shawn Black of Tehachapi is a veteran of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words. The Californian reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.

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