Opinion: Are California Republicans in a Race to Political Extinction?

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Republicans at the U.S. Grant Hotel celebrate Donald Trump’s election in 2016. File photo by Chris Stone

By Kirk Effinger

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California’s Republican Party leaders, elected officials, and their acolytes are fond of decrying the sad state of affairs brought about by the dominance of the Democrats in public policy, blaming them for everything from our shaky dependence on income taxes to the tsunami of homeless and the housing crisis that looms as an ever-increasing source of dismay. What they refuse to admit is that this sad state of affairs is as much the fault of the Republicans themselves as it is the Democrats.

Were it not for the GOP leadership’s unfathomable reluctance to adjust their message to the electorate they hope to serve, we would likely see a more balanced political landscape.

Politics is not a zero-sum game. Standing your ground in the face of overwhelming opposition may seem like a noble act, but it rarely produces movement to your cause. Taking yourself out of the game ensures you will not have a say in the ultimate outcome.

Statistics show that would-be voters are moving away from both major parties at an increasing rate. This is especially true with the GOP. I am among the many who have done so, citing the party’s unrelenting rightward turn that leaves many of us bereft.

Being the “party of no” is really the party of no ideas. Bringing people to your point of view has to include effectively articulating it and being willing to consider you do not have all the answers. California Republicans have already succeeded in building a “wall.” The wall is between themselves and the irresistible wave of young, ethnic stakeholders who see nothing from the party but antipathy toward who they are and what they represent.

In business, if you see a decline in customers buying your product, you either modify your product offering to attract them, or you fade into obscurity and bankruptcy. How a Republican Party that routinely trots out business-person candidates as antidotes to “tax and spend Democrats” don’t see the irony in their self-immolation on the altar of right-wing demagogy is beyond me.

I am a salesman by profession. Politics, like sales, is at its root a profession that rewards successful negotiation. If your approach to a negotiation is “my way, or the highway,” you are very unlikely to achieve success in the long run. Every good salesman knows that unless both sides walk away from a negotiation feeling satisfied with the outcome — either happy, or at least less sad than they would if they lost everything — it was a bad result.

As they rush headlong into irrelevancy here in California, it would be wise for GOP elders to consider their future wisely. This is a party, after all, that once was the party most closely associated with racial equality and progressivism. Adapting to the environment of the times is their only hope for survival.

Refusing to adapt is a recipe for extinction…just ask the dinosaurs.


Kirk Effinger is a realtor and Escondido resident. He was an opinion columnist for the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune for several years.

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