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Lessons from the past for the GOP to become a majority party

Harry Andrew Frankman
As a life-long Republican voter and strong supporter of the Republican Party, I am afraid our ability to win statewide races in Minnesota remains scarce. After the enormous losses Republicans suffered in Minnesota on Nov. 6, a new approach to elections and governing in Minnesota is necessary if Republicans want to remain relevant in statewide races. I do not think the answer is to criticize our message or our candidates, but the answer lies in invigorating a diverse yet united party. This will necessitate something new, but very familiar in both the Democratic and Republican parties of the past.

It is undeniable that Republicans have struggled over the past quarter century to win statewide, while at the same time great success has occurred outstate in state and federal races. The last Republican re-elected to the U.S. Senate in Minnesota was in 1988, the last Republican attorney general was elected in 1966, and statewide success usually occurs when the Democrats experience a low turnout. When Republicans win statewide, re-election is not easy or possible. The population of the Twin Cities metro area overwhelms the exurbs and rural part of the state, and the political priorities and views diverge between these parts of the state.

A common phenomenon

This is a common phenomenon around the country and we see Republicans having a hard time winning statewide races in states like Michigan, Illinois, among others. We have run great candidates, and frankly our message works in many areas of Minnesota. Also, I think it is too simplistic to say that President Donald Trump is completely at fault for the 2018 results in Minnesota. In some parts of the state, the president has greatly helped elect Republicans.

The way forward is to do something different in Minnesota so my party is competitive in all parts of the state. Therefore, I do not see it as a negative if we have two party platforms, two messages, two different types of candidates that disagree amicably with each other on issues such as social issues, immigration, and others, but agree on the core issues of a free market economy, school choice, support for law enforcement, and a strong and prosperous country.

Two wings, working together

The reader may say Republicans already have diverse candidates and voters, and while this may be true, I would like to see a party that officially has two wings, an urban and more rural wing that work together like a well-oiled machine. Both wings of the party should have a seat at the table, and a candidate should be able to go back to his or her voters and show tangible results. For many decades  in Minnesota, the Iron Range Democrats and Twin Cities Democrats made up the DFL, but the urban Democrats are way too progressive to make up a coalition. But today a moderate urban Republican could work very effectively with a more conservative Iron Range Republican. Candidates who  represent both urban and rural areas of the state the most effectively would be chosen to run statewide.

Nationally, the southern Democrats and northern Democrats had much success while having some very deep differences on issues. During the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan, my hero, achieved much conservative policy success with a diverse Republican Party. Today, many members of the media and the opposition will try to exploit these differences in the Republicans Party, but if the party can officially admit there are two different wings of the party and there are official policy differences, I think our common goals can lead to some very impressive electoral successes. I admit I tend to lean to the conservative side of the political spectrum on most issues, and I can see my conservative friends saying that my suggestions would end the Republican Party as the conservative party. I respectfully disagree with this assertion as a common goal of preserving a free market economy is vital to the success of the conservative movement and, frankly, to the well-being of Minnesota.

The Democratic Party, in my opinion, is monolithic. It is really a party that is moving toward  European socialism. For the Republican Party in Minnesota, and eventually nationally, the only way to becoming a majority party is to have a united party that is made up of two distinct wings that coalesce around common goals.

Harry Andrew Frankman, an attorney in Minneapolis, is a long-time supporter of the Republican Party, and he is tired of losing.


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Comments (31)

  1. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/16/2018 - 09:45 am.

    If the GOP, on the state or national levels, wants to move forward, it needs to stand up to the racism in it’s ranks. It’s does so only rarely and briefly. Racism needs to become a deal breaker for all Republicans and conservatives.

    That this article does not even mention this is shocking.

    • Submitted by David Markle on 11/16/2018 - 01:50 pm.

      Yes, the GOP got its edge nationally when Democrats broke away because of the Democrats’ civil rights agenda and achievements.

  2. Submitted by Wes Davey on 11/16/2018 - 10:38 am.

    The author is focused only on winning and does what too many politicians on either side of the aisle do – he puts out meaningless phrases with little detail.

    For example, Frankman mentions “social issues” but goes no further. Does he mean – like so many Republicans apparently do – that the LGBTQ community should just shut up and stay in the closet, forgetting about any semblance of equality?

    Or is he talking about being “pro-life”? If so, he ignores that we’re all pro-life – Republican and Democrat. If he means though, as so many Republican politicians playing to their base do, that a female violently raped by sexual predator must carry and deliver a baby (“because it’s God’s will” in their view), he should say so. That is flat-out abhorrent to any person with a sense of decency.

    Support for law enforcement? What does that mean – little or no accountability? As a former police officer, I’ll be among to say that that is a path to despotism we should never tread on (and Frankman, as an attorney, must agree with). Again, a meaningless phrase by him.

    A strong and prosperous country – who doesn’t want that? But that has to be done with some restraint, such as not damaging the environment. A free market economy? Does that mean no-holds barred and the effect on climate be damned? Both are examples of greed for the present at the great expense of our posterity.

    Enough with the absolute concern on winning, it is absurd by Republican or Democrat.

    Lastly, Frankman fails to address one big plague of his party that has been greatly strengthened by Trump and his acolytes – the overall welcoming into the GOP of white supremacists and neo-Nazis. This was evidenced by David Duke and his White Nationalist (KKK) friends being invited to the Republican National Convention, and by the Nazi flag wavers present at many of Trump’s rallies (while he smugly remained mute).

    Have they all lost their minds? When I see a Republican politician stand up and proclaim that he or she doesn’t want the votes of white nationalists or neo-Nazis, only then will I consider voting for that Republican.

  3. Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/16/2018 - 11:41 am.

    “I don’t think it’s our message, or candidates, or president”. Good to see the party of “purity” (good grief the tea party was only elections ago) is fully committed to remaining in the wilderness indefinitely. He even mentioned the real message here, “State wide success usually only occurs when. Democrats experience low turnout”. Never once is the fact that the CONSERVATIVE IDEOLOGY is massively unpopular with large swaths of the electorate.

  4. Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/16/2018 - 03:35 pm.

    Actually, the message is terrible. Because its not a message about free markets, school choice, etc. The message is division. The message is bigotry. The message is hate. The message is fear. Fear of those who are different. Fear of change.

    Maybe if Republicans get back to what you think their message is, they will come back. But they don’t seem to believe that message is good enough to run on.

    • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/18/2018 - 12:27 am.

      The message is not hate, fear, division, bigotry. Your wide brush is incorrect and inaccurate.

      Love of country, the rule of law, less government intervention and regulation, value for taxes paid, national security and defense. Those are some of the values and the message.

      • Submitted by kurt nelson on 11/18/2018 - 05:49 pm.

        No, I think that’s about right. When your leader is an ignorant racist, and most likely a traitor, I can understand your wanting to feel better about yourself, with the list you provided – too bad the party has latched onto hate, fear, ignorance, and racism – they used to have some principled folks, now, not so much.

        • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/18/2018 - 11:05 pm.

          President Trump is OUR leader, at least for Americans, at least for now. Please read the GOP party platform as no one person represents any one party. Political parties are collections of people with common goals, interests, and beliefs, not the exact same goals, interests, and beliefs. To say that Rep. Pelosi or Sen. Schumer or Governor Dayton speak for all Democrats would silly, wouldn’t it?

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 11/18/2018 - 06:36 pm.

        Again, that’s what Frankman would like to think the message is. But that’s not what’s coming across. Jeff Johnson ran one of the most hateful, negative campaigns Minnesota has ever seen. He focused on exploiting differences and stoking resentments. And the good people of Minnesota roundly rejected his message.

        If you want to pretend that candidates like Johnson and Housley aren’t running divisive, fear-based campaigns, you are welcome to do so, but you will keep on losing. Try someone who will run on the ideas you list instead.

        • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 11/18/2018 - 10:41 pm.

          And yet many people have commented (including Governor-elect Walz) what an honorable campaign that Mr. Johnson ran. I trust the word of our new Governor, he was there.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/19/2018 - 10:12 am.

            “And yet many people have commented (including Governor-elect Walz) what an honorable campaign that Mr. Johnson ran.”

            What did you expect him to say? “Well, Minnesota, we dodged a bullet there. Thank heaven he was defeated, after that hate-filled campaign he ran”?

            I was “there,” too, in that I could see his campaign commercials and hear what he had to say. Johnson’s campaign started off with a cartoonish attempt at divisiveness, and finished with an unhealthy dose of race-baiting and dog-whistling. No, he didn’t come out and say “keep the nears down,” but his message was abundantly clear. Talking about “coddling” protesters who block freeways, or raising alarms about “welfare cheats,” is a convenient way to say something without saying it.

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/19/2018 - 12:48 pm.

        Oh please. Don Trump did nothing but fear monger during the campaign. A thousand migrants, tired, poor, huddled masses; many of then women and children,were weeks away from walking to our border.

        And Don Trump wastes $200M to send soldiers to the border so they could miss Thanksgiving with their families (Support Our Troops!) in an ignorant attempt to scare suburban women into voting for him. Because he was on the ballot.

        He even lied to the people by telling us there were Middle Easterners mixed in.

        And remember, no GOP politicians distanced themselves from Don Trump or his fear mongering. Paulsen may not have “embraced” it, but he never called it out.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 11/21/2018 - 03:55 pm.

        Nonsense. You’ve elected a person that openly sides with traditional enemies of the United States over our own intelligence community. The GOP has no moral high ground when it comes to “love of country and rule of law.” Post Trump, that’s a card that Republicans have forever ceded.

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/22/2018 - 08:32 am.

          If you think the GOP is going to cede the moral high ground, you couldn’t be more wrong. Witness how easily “Christian” evangelicals made their peace with a man whose personal life has been completely contrary to their teachings. Never before in the history of modern evangelical politics have they so easily discounted the personal immorality of a politician. Evangelicals are a huge part of the base of both Don Trump and the GOP.

          This is the crowd that spends money like a drunken sailor on shore leave, drowning us in red ink. Then when adults return from vacation to clean up and pay the bills, they scream about fiscal responsibility. The “fiscal conservative” next door in WI is leaving his successor with a $1B budget hole, after eight years(!) of total control! Watch how they will whine about Tony Evers “big spending budget-busting plans.”

          Despite doing nothing while a hostile foreign power meddled in a US election, they’ll still continue to holler about the Dems being “weak on defense” and “soft on security”.

          Remember, when Newt Gingrich, who has had more wives than Osama Bin Laden, was asked how he could campaign on family values, he responded, “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

          I urge you to get much, much more familiar with the hypocrisy of the modern day GOP.

  5. Submitted by kirk schnitker on 11/17/2018 - 07:40 am.

    The writer makes some excellent observations in a short article covering a tall topic. Its apparent he brings some long term experience with the party. That history is important. Now that the midterms are history my issue is we lost so many races that were winnable. I believe the state party owns the Wardlow loss. My rural conservative friends did not even know who Doug Wardlow was.They knew his opponent, but that was not enough, as they did not know how bad an actor he is.
    I helped and raised $ on some urban races. One in particular bothers me in that it has been a republican house district for several terms but it was lost. I see the loss as very avoidable but the sate party and house caucus provided insufficient help to a novice candidate. In this urban district Frankman’s urban rural ideas makes sense since so may of us urbanites have rural , range and republican roots.

  6. Submitted by Bill Mantis on 11/17/2018 - 10:28 am.

    The only way Republicans can become a majority party is by repudiating Donald Trump, who, unlike Harry Frankman here, has zero commitment to any guiding moral, ethical or policy principal beyond his own personal self-aggrandizement.

    Unfortunately, for the Republican Party as well as for the country as a whole, the odds of Republicans repudiating Trump and everything he stands for are precisely zero. Trump’s rating among Republican party members is higher than any other president’s in the history of polling.

  7. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/18/2018 - 10:09 am.

    The claim that the Democratic Party is monolithic is interesting. To begin with, I don’t know that anyone familiar with American politics believes this. Quiet the opposite really, the Democratic Party is famously fractured. It is one of our great weaknesses as a party. So why does the author claim the opposites. I think it’s because it provides a rationale for projecting the views and statements of our most extreme members on the party as a whole. For whatever reason,instead of the party of Collin Peterson, or Amy Klobuchar, many Republicans want to present us as the party of Maxine Waters or that new congress person from New York whose name I can never remember.

  8. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/19/2018 - 10:03 am.

    The Republican Party and the conservatives it represents are doomed to implosion. They may win an election here and there locally for some years to come but they cannot compete votes with their current mentality or that expressed by Mr. Frankman.

    In order to remain competitive Republicans would need to cultivate a number of skill sets they have spent decades demolishing within their own ranks, and nostalgia for Ronald Reagan will offer no respite.

    Americans want a government that works, and works for them. No party that fundamentally believes government is or should be irrelevant can possibly meet that expectation.

    American want to live in a free country, not a country where Christian Fundamentalists or Republican politicians dictate everyone’s “values”. As we emerge from the fog of the toxic “culture war” conservative launched on their fellow Americans decades ago one fact is beginning to tower over all others: the “morality” that Republicans have been promoting is the product of fundamentally broken and malfunctioning moral compasses. Their “values”… suck.

    Finally, it is simply not possible to produce effective, rational, or coherent policy or governance so long as one is fundamentally disconnected from reality. Republicans have literally created their own reality and their own media and culture to sustain their alternate reality. At the end of the day all Republicans have to offer is decades long sustained whine about having to pay taxes and live with their fellow Americans. For voters, that agenda simply has no legs.

    In order to connect to with voters Republicans will have to stop whining about paying taxes, stop attacking their fellow Americans, learn how to live with people who are “different” in a variety of ways, and cultivate some basic moral and intellectual integrity and decency. That’s not going to happen. Most likely Republicans will conclude that voters just don’t understand the virtue of intolerance and magical thinking. They will embark on a program of “explaining” their toxic message and lying about their true agenda’s (like their recent claims to be committed to protecting health care coverage). Thanks to Trumpism, voters will continue to reject these toxic politics in increasing numbers and Republicans will be left bemoaning the loss of all the “right thinking” Americans’

  9. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/20/2018 - 10:20 am.

    We did see some glimmers of what a more successful statewide Republican Party might look like. The appointment of Jennifer Carnahan as GOP chair was a baby step in that direction. Their candidate for fifth district congress, Zielinski was someone who might have more promise in attracting urban voters. But neither individual has any real impact on the broader Republican message in Minnesota.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 11/23/2018 - 10:38 am.

      “Their candidate for fifth district congress, Zielinski was someone who might have more promise in attracting urban voters.”

      Only if those urban voters are willing to overlook her understated, but explicit, support for President Trump.

  10. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 11/20/2018 - 10:21 am.

    Americans want a government that works, and works for them.

    Some do, and in a crisis we all do. But the Republican Party is committed to the idea that government doesn’t and shouldn’t work. And when we elect Republicans, it’s with the idea that Republicans will disrupt the functioning of government.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/23/2018 - 09:20 am.

      There’s no glimmer of hope in Carnahan. She’s just as committed to magical thinking and cultural extremism as anyone else. Diversity isn’t about appearances, it’s about substance as well. Did Michelle Bachmann bring “diversity” to the Republican Party simply because of her gender? I would say: “no”… but maybe that’s just me.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/21/2018 - 12:15 pm.

    “The reader may say Republicans already have diverse candidates and voters, and while this may be true, …”

    See, this is the thing: no one who has a coherent concept of diversity would ever consider saying this about the Republican Party. Again, Republican’s will simply HAVE to find a way to connect with reality. As long as Republican politics is an exercise in trying to convince everyone else that THEIR reality is THE reality… they will continue to loose influence and relevance.

  12. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 11/22/2018 - 08:19 am.

    Carnahan? Surely you jest!

    She’s done nothing to stand up to Don Trump’s racism and misogyny. Those are numbers one and two on the list for anyone who wants to move the GOP forward.

    Even in the aftermath of white suburbanites voting en mass to repudiate the racism of Don Trump and GOP politicians, she’s said nothing about it.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 11/23/2018 - 09:23 am.

    I think one concise way of responding to Mr. Frankman would be to simply observe that if and when Republicans get tired of being “wrong” about so many things instead of simply being tired of losing… they might find a way towards political viability. The problem is no matter how many times magical thinking fails… they just keep trying it.

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