1) So long as it's in the opposition, where should the Republican Party focus its energy?
Gaining a majority in both houses. We should do that through good ideas, well thought out programs and viable fixes to current problems. Carping at the majority from the sideline doesn't portray leadership ability. It is popular to criticize "Congress". This has got to stop. It is a "Democratically Controlled Congress" that is wreaking all this havoc.
2) What is the most worrisome part of Barack Obama's presidency?
The arrogance displayed by the entire administration. The inability to process ideas that are contrary to your opinion is fatal.
3) There's been a lot of debate about the role that talk radio and cable news hosts should play on the right. Particularly controversial are Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Mark Levin. What do you think about these folks? Do they help the right or hurt it (or is it more complicated than that?) How should Republicans interact with them?
Their listeners do not always or ever understand that they are entertainers. I'm not discounting their ability to formulate opinion or the good they might do as watchdogs. However, we must understand that in order for them to be successful, they have to have good ratings. Their decisions therefore are not based on the good of the Republican Party, but on how certain subject matters will affect ratings. We have to clearly delineate between members of the Republican Party and entertainers. We should be careful to ensure that people do not feel they are speaking for the Republican Party.
4) One particularly fraught controversy pertains to race in America -- with the first black president in the White House, some conservatives have been criticized as racists for opposing him, and some on the right have accused the Obama Administration or its allies of racism or anti-white sentiments (for example, Sonja Sottomayor's "wise Latina" comment drew fire, as did the Skip Gates incident). As the right thinks about political strategy and policy, how should it approach matters of race?
The race issue is a minefield that's impossible to navigate. If the guy on the other side of the table is a different color, race is at the least, a perceived factor. I've never been successful in any interpersonal relationship where I have ignored the ethnicity of the person I'm trying to relate to.
As a personal aside, I get tired of everyone ignoring the ethnicity of white people. I cherish my Scottish heritage and it helps form the person I am. I'm proud of my ancestors and the oppression they overcame to build a vibrant and culturally rich society.
Anyway, the party needs to recognize that race isn't a political issue, it's a cultural issue. As long as we can all see, we will notice the difference between people. I would suggest that we embrace ethnicity and celebrate it. The difficult problem is getting people to understand that allowing your ethnicity to be an excuse is nonproductive. It allows the Democrats to take advantage of you, to push you into a group, to apply a common label and create a situation in which hard work and effort are not recognized as the way out. Nobody's ever going to give someone else as much as they have. They're always going to want an edge and they're going to want payback for what they give. Earn it and it's yours with no strings.
5) Is there anything you observe locally, or that Republicans in your area of the country care about, that doesn't get sufficient attention in the national media conversation? If so tell me a bit about the issue, and the approach you think the right ought to take.
The national media conversation? I haven't seen any of that lately, just people shooting soundbites of each other. Our county is very rural and has been hit hard by environmentalists affecting our natural resources-based industries. The folks in this county are hard workers and do for themselves. When your closest neighbor is 1/4 or 1/2 mile down the road, you learn to solve your own problems. When you ask for help, people know you really need it and are there for you. I guess our biggest issue is that people do not understand why we live here and that our problems are very much different from theirs. A guy who grew up in Chicago, doesn't know anything about my lifestyle. It's my feeling that there are more of us than you realize and the Republican Party has to make more of an effort to communicate with and energize us country folk. We can tip the scales, but if you want someone to drive 20 to 30 miles in the snow to vote you have to get them to understand how important it is.
6) Traditionally the Republican Party has been a coalition of religious conservatives, libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and national security conservatives. Is that alliance viable going forward? If so, what must be done to hold it together? If not, what alliance should the GOP try to build?
It certainly seems to me that that's the face of the Republican Party. I qualify for all those groups.
7) Is there anything I didn't ask about that you'd like the media or the country as a whole to know?
A lot of stuff, but I've got to get back to work. Tell the media to give me the facts, I'll draw the conclusions.
Norris D. Boyd
State of Washington