By Adrian Mungiu
A study of man-made disasters quickly reveals that most disasters are a result of a series errors in judgment or policy rather than one monumental mistake.The Titanicis a famous example of a disaster that was wholly preventable: The ship was running at full speed at night in ocean waters known to have icebergs present. It did not slow down despite heavy fog. It was slow to turn by design. There were not enough lifeboats. The lifeboats were not completely filled with passengers. The crew was inadequately trained in emergency procedures. The passengers were not informed of the danger they faced.
Had the ship been moving at a more appropriate speed the impact would have been avoided. Had there been no fog the iceberg would have been seen with ample time to avoid impact. Had it been built to be more maneuverable it would have avoided impact. If there were enough lifeboats for all the passengers and crew most would have survived. Had the crew been properly trained for emergencies many more would have survived.
My point is the disaster of Republican politics in Northern Virginia cannot and should not be attributed to any single factor. We lost with a centrist in this Gubernatorial election and lost with a conservative in the last one. We have lost with different Fairfax County Republican Committee (FCRC) Chairs. We have lost with moderates and conservatives in local elections. And our margin of defeat keeps growing larger, and our victory margins keep getting smaller. It seems our base is growing smaller and older every day. The idea of victory for 8th and 11th District Republicans seems impossible. Our political position in Northern Virginia is a disaster. And we must piece by piece correct our mistakes to improve our situation.
Our “ship” so to speak is the FCRC. We all rely on FCRC to be our nexus for Republicans from voters to activists to campaigners to candidates to staffers to elected officials. Like it or not we are all in the same boat! Stopping it from sinking is in all our best interests. Like the Titanic we allowed hubris to dictate our actions—or lack thereof—rather than changing conditions. Captaining a ship in calm seas is far easier than through a storm. Crewing a ship through calm seas is also easier than through a storm. We are in a cultural maelstrom but are acting as if we are in calm seas. And we are sinking as a result.
The first step is to figure out what the FCRC should be doing. What is the responsibility of the FCRC versus the campaigns? Are central policies to be laid out by the FCRC or should each candidate choose her/his positions and the FCRC should only support? Are there any “make or break” positions? How should coordination of volunteers be handled? Should the FCRC be the nexus for literature and messaging among multiple campaigns? Is the FCRC simply a storehouse of volunteers, incomplete and outdated databases, and a convenient meeting place for announcements, or is it a leader in Republican ideas and messaging for campaigns, media, and the public? Should each campaign receive equal resources or should weighting be used based on the chance of success? Do candidates that stray too far from our basic Republican principles receive support? Should the FCRC “vet” our primary candidates for membership to make a more informed decision? What is the purpose of the FCRC web site?I’m a member of the FCRC and frankly am not sure what it is for. We have meetings once a month—sometimes missing a month or three—which are dull and uninformative. The end of the meeting consists of campaigns and activists announcing events or asking for help. Is this the purpose of the FCRC? Are we a loose confederation of conservative groups and campaigns or a unified force working toward protecting our Constitution and rights? How can any “political” group not meet for 3 months prior to an election and be of any consequence? What is the role of the FCRC?
Figuring out the purpose and scope of the FCRC is the first step to bailing out our ship.