Sunday, May 13, 2007

Consensus over Compromise

Consensus over Compromise
By Frank Antenori
May 13, 2007

Back in 2006, during one of our many debates in the Republican primary race for Congressional District Eight, Mike Hellon made a profound statement that illustrated the current state of the Republican Party.

“My opponents and I probably agree on 90% of the issues,” Mike stated, “but during these debates, we’re forced to draw attention to that 10% of the issues where we disagree in order to separate ourselves from our opponents.”

That quote has been stuck in my head for the past year, but it wasn’t until last week’s Pima County Republican Party, All Districts Meeting that I decided to resurrect it with my personal perspective and opinion.

There are essentially two factions trying to take the helm of the Grand Old Party. Both believe they have a sound strategy for leading us to victory in 2008.

The first wants to build consensus; to take that 90% of the issues we all agree on and build on it. They want to pull together a united team that will breathe energy back into the broad coalition that formed the Republican Party during the 1980’s. Ronald Reagan coined the phrase the “Big Tent” for that coalition of issues and it led him to overwhelming victories in both of his Presidential campaigns.

Newt Gingrich took a play from the Reagan play book in 1994 and made a list of the ten things all Republicans, and for that matter, a majority of Americans could agree on. He called it the Contract with America and it swept Republicans into control of the House of Representatives in 1994 for the first time in over 40 years.

I have seen this same approach work during my time in the military. Building a team is difficult when you have to bring together a diverse group of people from a variety of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds. My Special Forces A-team was comprised of the true melting pot America had to offer. We came from the four corners of the country, we had different political views, we had a broad array of white, black, Asian and Hispanic racial and ethnic backgrounds, and we had different definitions of values and morality.

Instead of allowing those differences to define us and divide us, we instead found what we all had in common: Our love of country, our sense of duty, our desire to defend freedom and help people around the world living under oppression to fight for their own freedom. Then we built on that and formed the comradeship that became the glue that held our team together. That team went on to do amazing things under some of the most trying conditions and situations. Despite our differences, we untied for a higher cause much like our party needs to do.

The second group vying for control wants to employ the tactic of compromise. Instead of trying to find out what we have in common, they want to apply an ideological litmus test to prospective candidates and leaders within our party.

Instead of identifying that 90% with which we agree and build on it, they want to ferret out that 10% in which we differ. They then want to force those candidates and leaders to compromise on that 10% to be more in-line with their own vision of what the Republican Party’s position should be or face being labeled something derogatory.

Politics is a game of ideas, whether those ideas are Republican or the Democrat, conservative or liberal, the group that is able to present their ideas in a way that is the most appealing to the American people will be the one that wins on Election Day.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to sell your ideas to others through healthy and heated debate. We should feel free to discuss and define those issues within our party and the path forward that our party should take. I fully understand it will be passionate, contentious and at times may get nasty, and that’s perfectly acceptable. However, at the end of the day we need to emerge from our “Big Tent” with a united front, based on that 90% we have in common and not dwell on the 10% of our differences.

The 10% of the issues, in which we disagree, will remain in the arena of ideas and will continue to be debated and discussed. It is perfectly appropriate for conservative candidates and their supporters to advocate their positions with as much purity and enthusiasm as they can muster. With time a majority may come to accept their ideas and they’ll emerge from the tent to become a position we’ll all have in common. But until that happens; it's crossing the line when those in our party adopt a scorched-earth policy towards their fellow Republicans, just because they don't agree 100% on every single issue.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities listen to and speak with both Don Goldwater and Bruce Ash. I see both men as fine Republicans, patriots and public servants. But it was after they both addressed the members of the Pima County Republican Party that I decided to support the one candidate that agreed most with the premise that building consensus is a far better strategy than forcing compromise.

I know there is still some resentment within the Party over what the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC) did in last year’s Republican primary. Being in the middle of it myself, I can fully understand why that anger and resentment exists, but we need to put that behind us and move on for the betterment of our party. If we don’t we’ll continue to lose to the Democrats.

It is also important to realize that sometimes the messenger is just as important as the message. The tone one takes, their demeanor, their desire to listen and their openness to new and different ideas, is just as important as what their ideological beliefs are. Since the National Committeeman is our messenger responsible for assisting the RNC in developing and promoting the Republican political platform as well as coordinating fundraising and election strategy, that messenger must be well rounded, present broad appeal and be focused on building a united Republican team.

Therefore after long consideration and analysis I have to offer my support and personal endorsement to Brush Ash for Arizona Republican National Committeeman as it is my belief he is best suited for the role of uniting our party and charting the course for victory in 2008.

I know my decision to support Bruce may not sit well with some in the party and I know endorsements come with political risk. Many of you have come to know me well over the past few years and therefore know I’m definitely not risk averse and I tend to do what I believe is right. You also know I’m the quintessential team player and hold in my heart a sense of duty to do what is best for our country, our state and our party.

Regardless of the outcome of the National Committeeman election, I will support the winner and work with him for the good of the party and our candidates just as vigorously as I did for Randy Graf and our party after I myself lost in the 2006 primary.

After all it’s about Team GOP and not about the individual personalities that make up our party. The sooner all of us realize it’s all about teamwork and working together to form consensus rather than forcing compromise, the sooner our party will emerge victorious.

Frank Antenori is a retired Special Forces Soldier and veteran of Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq. He is also a former candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in Congressional District Eight.


Anonymous said...

Frank is right about consensus.

We could distill it to this:

80% of the money for both the Republican and Democratic national conventions are paid by the same corporate special interests. These groups rent the salons where the lobbyists will meet with a handful of elected officials while the people in the funny hats get to do the voting, without access to the true salons of power.

This leaves the voters arguing about the 20% that the corporations have little concern for: social issues like abortion, guns and sex.

Issues like health and education are of little concern in these salons, while the deals that will define the next four years outweigh any true notion of democracy.

We get the balloons and funny hats, the corporations get the rest.

Anonymous said...


What is your view of the Hershberger wing of the party where maybe you agree on 10% of the issues (on a good day?)

Anonymous said...

Frank, I think you are right with your statements about consensus and looking for what we agree on. I think Bruce Ash is the better choice.

h@x0r said...

The Party came to a consensus when it approved the Party Platform. There are core platform issues which define a Republican. If a candidate does not come really close to representing the platform's positions on those core issues, then he has no business running as a Republican. And I will never vote for him.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could use my name but I am sure there would be hell to pay and unlike Frank, I am a gutless wimp. That being said I am glad to hear Franks words. Lets see how many of those Rhino calling moderate bashing malcontents refuse to ever speak to him again. Welcome to the politics of small minds ...God Bless Frank

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion Frank. Out of curiousity, do you have a vote in this contest? Are you on the State Executive Committee? Did you hear from the third candidate, Bill Bridwell, before you made your endorsement?

x4mr said...

With all due respect, even gutless wimps can create a pseudonym to help us sort you out from the rest of the anonymi, although you might want to choose something more dignified than "Gutless Wimp."

I still find myself baffled by what happened in CD 8 last fall. As Framer knows, I am an independent with very strong feelings about the GOP being hijacked by single issue fanatics, mostly the religious kooks.

Believe it or not, some of us lefty types actually do get strong defense, personal and fiscal responsibility, fueling economic prosperity, and so on.

Right now it's not going so well.

Duke the Dog said...

Frank's argument goes both ways. It doesn't only apply to the hard right wing of the party slashing and burning more moderate Republicans, it also applies to the moderates slashing and burning candidates that are further to the right than they are. What happened to Randy Graf and Al Melvin is a perfect example.

I think what Frank is trying to say is that we can't be so rigid in our beleifs that we cut off our noses to spite oour face. We saw that in the last election where many Republicans said there was no way they could bring themselves to vote for Randy. I hope their happy with the socialist they now have representing them in congress, voting to raise their taxes while hanging our troops out to dry. I seriously doubt even the moderates wanted what Giffords is giving them.

I was at a function for the company I work for last week. I happen to hear a conversation from one of the senior managers about how pissed off he was about Giffords' votes on the war and tax increases, he then added... "I regret not voting in the last election but I just couldn't bring myself to vote for Graf."

That same principle applied when other Republicans stay home on Election Day rather than vote for a so called "RINO." The result of not voting for a Republican because they are either not conservative enough or too conservative is what we have now, a Democrat that is 180 degrees diametrically opposed to our core ideology of the GOP as compared to a "Moderate" Republican that might be only 10 degrees off.

I commend Frank for trying to heal the rift that has been created in our party here in Southern Arizona since the 2004 election. Both of those individuals have now left office and the public spotlight and hopefully took their party dividing attitudes with them.

It is now time to put the party back together and build on what we can all agree on and work on those areas we differ with mutual respect and civility.

A house divided will not stand and the Republican Party is no diffferent.

Cheers to Frank for getting us talking about this much needed discussion.

Liza said...

Hi, Frank,
I'm not commenting on this subject but I would just like to say that I like your "goes down easy" writing style. I've noticed this on previus posts, and thought it was time to compliment you.

Sirocco said...


While I find myself generally disagreeing with Frank's views, I second Liza's comments about appreciating his writing style.

nunya bizness said...

I am a registered Republican.

I'm not religious, (haven't been to a church, temple, or whatever except for weddings and funerals) and could care less if someone is religious or not.
Sex between consenting adults is just that - sex between consenting adults.
I'm a strong believer in both personal and fiscal resonsibility.
In my mind, THE most important responsibility of government is to protect the people and this nation.

For that I been called a right-wing, religious, racist, zealot...
Because I chose to support Randy Graf, the candidate I felt took the most important responsibility of government the most seriously.

I'm not a politico.
Have no clue who Bruce Ash is.
Have no clue who Framer is.
Have no clue who the 2 people who left office are - unless one of them is Kolbe.

I recall Hellon's name (but couldn't place him in a line-up.)
I recall Frank Antenori's name (but couldn't place him in a line-up).

In the end, I'm just one of the little peons the party hacks depend on for votes.
There are lots of us out here in CD8.

The NRCC and RNC will never get another dime from me and I've told them that explicitly.
In the past I have voted for some Republican candidates I wasn't thrilled about because they were "better than the Democrat running".
That won't happen again.

So you guys can cuddle up and cheer for "team GOP"...
I, however, am not ready to make nice.

And yes, if Randy Graf runs again, I'll be voting for him.

Randy Graf doesn't know me from a hill of beans - as I said, I'm just a little peon.
A peon with a vote.
You politico types forget that at your own peril.