Congressman Kevin McCarthy delivered a rousing speech on the first night of the California Republican convention, describing how the GOP took back the majority in the House back in 2006, thanks to a highly successful “Young Guns” program, and how California can experience the same results in its state legislature with a new “California Trailblazers” program, a follow-up to the “Young Guns.” Following remarks by Rep. Darrell Issa at the dinner, the House Majority Whip drew comparisons between the US four years ago and California today, and how it is essential to find people that are true to the Conservative cause and can be trained to become leaders within the legislature.
After Republicans lost the majority in Congress back in 2006, TIME Magazine stated that the GOP would never be a relevant party in America ever again. Yet just four years later, eighty-seven new freshmen Republican members of Congress beat out some sixty Democrat incumbents, and the Republican Party successfully regained control of the US House of Representatives. “We believed we could do it, but the rest of them laughed at us and made fun of us for it,” said Rep. McCarthy. “But we did it.”
“The same concept that was used across the country can be implemented in California,” said McCarthy. “What we did back east, we can do exactly the same here.” Comparing the state of the nation in 2006 with the current situation in California, Rep. McCarthy detailed the need to find people that are true to conservative causes that will stand by causes and come up with proper solutions for the state. However, many Californians today doubt the relevancy of the California Republican Party and believe its significance has essentially gone down the drain. In fact, the fastest growing party in California is decline-to-state. “Are we going to admit that we’ve hit rock bottom and can only go up from here?” questioned McCarthy. “We’re not just going to sit back—we’re going to hold seats!”
Rep. McCarthy is a California native, having lived in the state all his life for 47 years. “I’ve watched this state fall from first to last,” he stated during the dinner. ““In California, the Democrats control all. Their idea that problems can be solved by enlarging government has failed, and we need to give a vision of the right solution… Our government dictates how much water you can have in your toilet bowl, what kind of light bulb you can use, what kind of religion you can have. If there was ever a time to stand up for America, now is the time.” McCarthy emphasized the importance of coming up with a solution using conservative principles—and it’s not necessary to create a 100-page plan to do it.
Mirroring the techniques used in the “Young Guns”, the “Trailblazers” program is commissioned to “identify, recruit and advise a new generation of fiscally conservative leaders to victory for California Assembly and Senate seats in 2012 and beyond.” Candidates are equipped with the knowledge, support, and advice on how to run a successful campaign, and are given “insight from Republican leaders and political experts on what it takes to win.” With the unique landscape in California due to redistricting, Republicans running for office need to be more prepared than ever, and with the help of individuals like Rep. McCarthy and other dedicated leaders, it will be possible to take back the legislature, and in doing so, take back our state and propel it forward.
It can be done—these are the four words inscribed on a plaque that sat on Ronald Reagan’s desk. “The question is—do we agree with that?” asked Congressman McCarthy. “Too often, we don’t remember who we are as Americans. We start with the largest economy in the world. We have $2 trillion, not in government, but in free market businesses. We have the greatest military on earth. We even have the resources to be energy independent.” Too often, we are bombarded with facts on America’s weaknesses and threats to the homeland, without giving thought to our strengths or opportunities at hand. “We’re in a battle for the big ideas. Don’t fight for pastel colors—make it bold,” said McCarthy, taking a quote from Ronald Reagan. “It’s not going to be easy. But this country is worth fighting for, and this state is worth fighting for. And I believe it can be done.”
(Josephine Djuhana is Assistant Editor for the California Political Review.)