A Path Forward

By Betsy Mahan (updated Feb. 18, 2021)
Chair, SacCountyGOP

Conservatives in California and across the nation are in crisis mode as we continue to suffer from misguided lockdowns, a new President who is overturning four years of progress with the stroke of his pen, and censorship by tech giants seeking to erase our point of view.

Most schools are still closed, with heartbreaking results where kids are not only falling behind in their learning, but falling into despair as they miss their friends and mentors. Too many families have lost their life savings and dreams for their kids’ futures as they’ve closed their businesses, leaving their employees with no income and fewer opportunities once we do reopen. And patriots are genuinely concerned about the creep of socialism into the mainstream of public thought and policies.

It appears too often that our leaders’ concerns about their political futures are directing their actions rather than science, health concerns, or simple logic. People are growing impatient as they wait for their elected officials to have the courage to disappoint their major donors and reopen California and the nation. Voters are reacting in different ways – some productive, some not.

I equate today’s social media discourse with that of a hockey game. People attend the game to cheer for their team and appreciate the sport, only to lose themselves to the crowd reflecting the battle on the ice. That happened to me when I attended a hockey game in Chicago many years ago. I couldn’t believe how I transformed from a disinterested attendee into an aggressive, fist-waving, screaming lunatic, reacting to what I saw in the game. Conservatives are using social media to vent their frustrations. Viable solutions are in short supply as keyboard warriors feed on each other’s vitriol. Post after post displays sincere concern about the future of our country, with unverified updates on President Trump’s future, and calls for Republicans to demonstrate their purity. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative tweets and memes. I’ve found myself to be an offender as well. The tragic scene on January 6th was another result of this despair as a disillusioned group stormed the Capitol. No one in their right mind could have thought this would result in anything other than tragedy, and in fact people were injured and died while providing fodder to Nancy Pelosi to once again impeach President Trump.

So where do we go from here?

We must believe there is hope for our future. We can remind voters through our example that the Constitution preserves everyone’s right to freedom of speech, to worship, and to have opportunities to achieve one’s dreams, be that a roof over your head or a mansion on the hill. We need to demand our leaders support policies that provide safe communities, schools, and places of business or worship, regardless of the zip code. And we must speak up for all kids who need an education that focuses on developing critical thinking and skills relevant to today’s workplace with the goal of self sufficiency and unlimited opportunity. Most people want the same thing – to live in peace with food on the table and a place to raise their families. We reject the image the media has created, and need to define ourselves with messaging that helps people be open to hearing our views.

Positive, factual messaging works better than censorship or intimidation.

Now is the time when Californians and people across the country are looking for new leaders who can restore some normalcy and help people get back to the dignity of work. The increasing popularity of the Newsom Recall is evidence of the discontent. This is an opportunity to remind people that prior to the COVID lockdowns, our economy was thriving and the lives of people from all walks of life were improving. When given the opportunity to be implemented, Republican solutions can work for everyone!

Let’s not be our own worst enemy.

The Republican Party in California cannot afford to split up into pro vs. anti-Trump factions. Too many conservatives have already left the State, and while this past election saw an increase in our registration due to hard work by volunteers and effective leadership, it’s just not a winning strategy to be excluding party members just because we differ on a few issues or personalities. That said, groups like the Lincoln Project must be exposed as they took their dislike of President Trump to extremes, lining their pockets with millions of dollars paid by the Biden campaign, all in the name of saving the Republican Party. We must learn from their deceit and remember as Republicans we agree more than we disagree. The alternative is continuing to elect Democrats.

We also must reject those who seek to divide us simply to advance their desired leadership or status within the GOP. A case in point recently was focused on me and the SacCountyGOP where a person who is seeking to lead the CAGOP, knowing I had endorsed his opponent, made false statements about my handling of a new Central Committee Member who had a history of using intimidation and violence to advance his cause. Our Executive Committee unanimously felt this person was not conducting himself in the best interest of the Party, and recommended his removal. We gave him all rights afforded by our Bylaws to make his case at our February meeting, and his status as a Member was decided by the full Committee as he was removed by more than the two-thirds vote required. Meanwhile, the person seeking to replace our CAGOP leader decided to twist the facts and misinformed his readers that we were engaging in some form of cancel culture, rather than taking a stand against the very conduct we abhor coming from the extremists on the left. This type of negative, false, and self-serving messaging only turns people off to participation at a time when all hands are needed! If we turn on each other so easily, why get involved?

I believe all political parties and their leaders, as well as keyboard warriors on social media, should stand up to violence and intimidation, and stop spreading false information to advance political careers or points of view.

We understand intimidation.

SacCountyGOP volunteers are only too familiar with the tactics of Antifa and others who have tried to physically scare us away from community events, in particular our booth at the State Fair.  Patriots who rallied at the Capitol recently found their cars vandalized. We take calls every day at our headquarters from Biden supporters who now feel empowered to shame us for being Republicans, and some of the negative calls are from Republicans who think we supported President Trump too much…or not enough. We listen to them all, then, if there is a prolonged use of profanities, or shouting every negative adjective in the Media Matters book of talking points, our volunteers are instructed to play a recording of Kate Smith’s “God Bless America”, and then they finally hang up. It’s a very tense world right now, and we need to inject some patience, and a little humor to get by.

The SacCountyGOP Central Committee unanimously passed a resolution at our February meeting to encourage effective reactions to our County’s diverse opinions. We will do our part to respect the rights of individuals to differ in opinion, while denouncing all acts of violence and intimidation to influence voters, regardless of the messenger or the cause. Read the Resolution.

Let’s work together to meet the challenges we face in this blue state, and build upon the victories in the 2020 election toward a better 2022. Join us on this path forward.