OPINION: Area GOP must boost web use, Hispanic membershipDespite a poor showing on the national level, the GOP is doing very well in South Dakota, and here in Davison County.
By: Phil Carlson , Guest columnist
I consider myself fortunate to have been asked to serve as the chairman of the Davison County Republicans. I would like to take some time to look at my goals for the next year.
As a party, we face an incongruity. Despite a poor showing on the national level, the GOP is doing very well in South Dakota, and here in Davison County. The reason that Republicans do so well here is because South Dakotans understand that the individual is in a better position to know how to spend his or her money than the federal government, and that personal liberties guaranteed to each of us by the U.S. Constitution are still personal liberties.
South Dakotans understand that we can’t pass on to future generations that which we aren’t willing to pay for out of our own pockets, and how ignoring conservative social values will destroy our societal fabric. We understand what state GOP Chairman Craig Lawrence meant when he said, “[w]e’re Republicans because we believe tomorrow’s worth fighting for.”
We must pass those values of hard work and integrity to those who will carry on our legacy, and we must reach out to younger generations. I have a plan to do just that here in Davison County.
First, we have to accept the fact that there is not just one issue that makes a person a Republican. The name-calling that is rampant in the more conservative circles of our party is a symptom of this. This in-fighting leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Imagine how it must look to a young person, or anybody else for that matter. There are myriad positions on certain issues, and just because a person doesn’t support your position on one issue doesn’t mean that they are a liberal, or worse.
Second, we must effectively reach those who we need to reach. The Davison County Republicans must acquire an active web presence through both a county web-page and by better utilizing our current Facebook page.
Why is this important? Let me use my beautiful bride as an example. In late 2012, my wife opened Welcome Home Furnishings and Consignment in downtown Mitchell. Traditional advertising wasn’t cutting it, so she dropped $10 or so on a Facebook ad. All of the sudden her Facebook page had well over 500 “likes,” and now the business is booming. It’s clear to me that a web presence is a must in this day and age, and I intend to make the most of it.
Third, we must re-evaluate our position on immigration. This subject is beginning to be very important to us in South Dakota, and has a huge impact on our country as a whole. A large part of the reason the GOP is doing so poorly on the national level is our hardline stance on immigration reform. This position has alienated a large block of Hispanic voters.
According to the website, www.hispanicvoters2012.com, there are around 50,500,000 Hispanics currently in our country. This is about 13 percent of our population. As a child I lived in Texas for three years, and had a lot of interaction with the Hispanic community. One of the things I remember most is that they had very traditional and conservative values.
The statistics on www.hispanicvoters2012.com also show that they believe in conservative economic principles. It is my opinion that if it weren’t for the GOP’s immigration policies, many more Hispanics would vote Republican. Instead, only 18 percent of registered Hispanic voters are Republicans according to this website.
If the GOP is to be successful in the future, and remain relevant in our culture, we cannot hold the hardline on immigration reform anymore.
It is my hope that if we take these small steps here, it will ripple across our state and country.
I am of the firm belief that one person, town, county or state can make a difference. It has to start somewhere, and I’m willing to step up to the plate and take this swing at the issues we face.
I hope that you’re with me in this. Our country was based on the principle that one voice matters: Lend yours to this effort and perhaps we can change the direction we’re heading.
Phil Carlson, of Mitchell, is the newly elected chairman of the Davison County Republicans. He’s also a member of the Mitchell City Council and an attorney at Tinan, Smith & Bucher.