If you listen to the group-think-echo-chamber-know-it-alls in Washington, D.C., the Republican Party has been decimated, destroyed, is discombobulated and utterly distressed to the point of putting a “going out of business” sign out front and closing up shop for good.
Yet reality says that’s ridiculous.
On the national level, the GOP controls the U.S. House of Representatives while Democrats control the U.S. Senate and the Oval Office.
But the real power for the GOP is on the state level, and there they are dominating Democrats.
Republicans control the governor’s mansion in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Folks, that’s 31 out of the 50 states in the nation. The Dems have governors in the other 19 states.
What about both chambers on the state level? The GOP controls the legislature in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Count ‘em up and that’s 26. The Democrats control 18 legislatures. The remaining six are either split by both chambers or have a non-partisan legislature.
So much of the national media attention is always focused on what’s happening in Washington, D.C., but that is a common mistake that the political boss hogs keep making. Every Sunday show on broadcast and cable networks try to one up each other with the usual suspects from the U.S. Senate and sometimes a few influential U.S. House members. However, it makes far more sense to talk to governors, key state officials and mayors to get a real understanding of what’s happening in America.
The GOP is doing a lot of soul-searching and head-scratching about how Mitt Romney was pummeled by President Barack Obama in November. Republican Party leaders are told they must soften their stance on gay and lesbian issues; flip the script on immigration reform; stop dissing women at every turn; and become more compassionate, like then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush sold himself as in 2000.
Democrats, on the other hand, are giddy, believing they have found a winning formula for the next generation by turning out young folks, gay and lesbian folks, black folks, Latino folks and lots of women. Sure, that coalition worked well for President Obama, but there is no guarantee it will be the key to success for the next Democratic presidential candidate.
So while Democrats salivate at winning the White House in 2016, Republicans continue to lay the groundwork for taking over the state house and gubernatorial mansions, and building a formidable team of next generation politicians to run for statewide office and the White House.
In fact, many Republicans have told me they couldn’t care less about Washington, D.C. because impactful legislation is being proposed and passed on the statewide level. That’s why you’ve seen groups silently back initiatives on the state level and bypass the hot lights and screaming media in Washington, D.C.
The real battles on same-sex marriage, abortion, education, spending, labor unions and yes, the Affordable Care Act, are happening state by state. And Democrats are being caught flat-footed because they ignored the admonition of former DNC Chairman Howard Dean to create a 50-state party and instead created a party that cared more about Congress and the White House.
Think about it: President Obama won Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Nevada, all states with GOP governors. So clearly voters in those states chose the Republican alternative in statewide elections, but when it came to the presidency said, “No, thanks.”
I’m not buying for a second this silly notion that the GOP will have a Damascus Road experience and drastically change. It’s not going to happen. There will be some movement on the national level, but Republican grassroots organizers are very well aware that the message the GOP is selling statewide is a winning formula.
Trust me, Republicans are concocting other pieces of legislation to affect change on the state level, regardless of what’s happening in Washington, D.C.
The old political adage, “All politics is local,” has not changed.
Maybe more of my brothers and sisters in D.C. need to get out of the Beltway and hit the road. There is a far more expansive America than what is happening in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York and New Jersey. If they do, they’ll that the conventional wisdom is pretty much worthless.
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Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.”