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Sunday, August 7, 2011

You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Please someone - remind me one day that I wrote this piece when I'm 92 and start to whine about the younger generation...

Try as you may, you can't teach an
old dog, new tricks
For as long as I can remember, the Connecticut Republican Party has been funded by old Greenwich money. And since donor power is political power, that meant that Fairfield County socialites believed they had the God-given right to anoint CTGOP officers, select staff to run campaigns, and hand out cushy office jobs at the Capitol, and elsewhere.  I remember as a young person just out of college who didn't have the benefit of being related to Richie Rich - and was merely trying to get involved to make a difference, and find his way in the political world, it was near impossible to overcome the repetitive question: "Now, who's son are you?" For most of us unconnected souls, it was beyond frustrating, and dead-ended in the land where nepotism ruled, and political jobs were part of someone's payoff equation.

Fact is that many of the people who landed Connecticut Republican Party jobs didn't even want them.  And most didn't have an ounce of the passion that many of us former-CR activists did.  It was painful to watch a paid staffer representing The Party cringe and hide every time an enthusiastic voter walked through the door, and bellow a meek - "Want a bumper sticker?" 

Fossils of Antiquity:
History has its lessons, but it will
take a new generation of leaders
to help CTGOP move forward
I distinctly remember working on George Bush's 1992 campaign which was headquartered on the Berlin Turnpike  - hardly Connecticut's version of Sunset Strip - and an old fuddy-duddy ran the office.  Putting it bluntly, he was a fossilized jerk - sneering and barking at volunteers, that is, when he could be bothered to open the door and come out of his office. 

When I think of it today, some of us who worked on that campaign still wonder why we didn't tell him to "go stuff his own envelopes" and walk out.  I think it was in part because our generation (much unlike today's) still had a degree of respect for our elders, but mainly due to the fact that we actually believed in the cause.  Most would be inclined to agree that if that same ingrate ran an office today, it would be likely empty because today's kids seem to have very little respect, and very little patience.

Fast forward to today...

While it's The King's view that nepotism still rules the day, there are a few young, bright, up and coming stars to be found on the CTGOP's transition team to take note of since the election of Jerry Labriola, Jr. but ... and there is a hesitant but ... many of the final decisions on the permanent staff, and district coordinator roles are yet to be made.  My hope is that the new State Chairman takes a long, hard look at all those entrenched leaders who have been lingering in their posts for what seems like an eternity, and producing mediocre results at best.  Many of these dinosaurs have set up their own miniature kingdoms which have proven counter-productive to Republican interests - the end goal of winning elections.

Don't get me wrong. And before I get tons of hate-mail -  I don't believe the notion that degrees and doctorates are a simple replacement for hands-on expertise, and experience. And I'm also not trying to run seasoned folks out of our ranks. But I also believe that new ideas, rebranding, and a fresh perspective from newer faces are more critical to our strategy at this point in time given the serious nature of our situation.  We are not simply playing the game of Survivor - because second place affords us nothing but empty failure. In these stakes, it's all or nothing.  And at this rate, Connecticut residents aren't gravitating to the GOP because our strategy has been one of capitulation and collaboration with those doing us harm.  Our elections need to be about more than having a good showing, they need to be about winning.  It's time to pass the baton.

It's natural that most people don't know when it's their time to move on; veteran politocs sees themselves as the quintessential, irreplaceable, all-knowing, heroic figures at the top of the mountain. Occasionally, a few smart folks understand its their time to give up the keys, move to the backseat, and remain involved to help guide and mentor young leaders when they need a nudge to keep them from derailing the train from the track.  But for the most part, our CTGOP could use an overhaul from top to bottom, particularly in the area that we might refer to as middle-management.

Truth be told, our new State Chairman can do without the whining from some about what's owed for them for a half century's worth of work which has resulted in a few Governorships and steady loses in the Statehouse, or for what may be presumed or pretended role they may have played in his election.  I was happy to hear that Chairman Jerry asked everyone to send in their resumes, and that he was going to skip patronage and hire those according to merit, and ability.  As mentioned, experience is important, but only if the experience is one of steady success, and quite frankly - there are really only a handful of people who can make heroic claims in that category here in Connecticut. 

The best thing folks can do is to stop trying at attach demands to their donations, or contribution.  Our goal is to win back the Governorship and the Legislature to return Connecticut to its Yankee-conservative roots.  If you have goals to boost your business and improve your own personal station in the world then I suggest you go elsewhere.  Go join the Rotary, and leave the business of the people to those who care about more than lining their pockets with gold.

As Republicans, we are now in a unique position to bring about tremendous positive change for Connecticut.  This won't be accomplished by following the same old plan dictated by old-time favor-traders operating out of their pretended positions of power;  these people have left us empty-handed, and bankrupt.  It's high time to respectfully bid adieu to the old guard and reinvigorate our Party with new blood, and fresh ideas.

Hey, want a CTGOP job?  How about finding a way to self-fund it?   We need fundraisers not staffers and consultants standing around with their hands in their pockets, so if you can show results and pay for yourself - maybe there can be a spot found for you on the team.  But if you're looking to make a killing or make yourself wealthy - you might want to find a new stomping ground.  I'll remind you that when it came to donations in previous years - pennies on the dollar wound up going to CTGOP candidates.  And the results show it.

Lastly, any Republican who threatens or attempts to extort our new Chairman for a paid position aught to be expelled.  Remember, those who work hard to deliver success will be rewarded 50-fold by seeing Republicans back in control of Connecticut.  And the opportunities for all in the Nutmeg State will be limitless. 



This original article can be read at


Dan Reale said...

Mr. King -

My intel says that the good guys lost that "take the GOP back" thing by a large margin. But nonetheless, a loss is a loss. And the new chair, however good he is (a lot better, BTW), needs a lot more support on the SCC. The new chair doesn't have that, ergo, his (and everyone else) is SOL on retaking the CTGOP. So you can take that to mean all the federal races are spoken for by those who control the convention from here on in.

This is where the actual conservatives (or right wingers/conservatives/libertarians, ect.) prove me wrong by making a serious power move and proving otherwise (as in what didn't happen the last 3 times as promised). That would make my job (and my life, for that matter) much, much easier.

Ever in moral support to the King,

Dan Reale,
Chair, LPCT
Candidate for Congress, CT-2

Anonymous said...

Time to take Old Yeller out back.