What Did We Learn, Really?

In the military there is what is called an After Action Review (AAR). This is where the team gets together after an exercise, mission or an event and go over four questions:

  1. What happen?
  2. What went well?
  3. What didn’t go well?
  4. How to make it better?

Ideally it happens as soon as the event is completed, so everything is fresh in everyone’s mind. Many organizations do much of the same thing, The Red Cross debriefs every volunteer leaving a disaster area with the same questions. Even my current and former employers use these same questions. The idea is to make the unit, company or organization stronger and better.  Fix what’s broke and make what is good, better.

Let’s take a look at the last election:

Congress passed a very unpopular Obamacare. The stimulus failed, the omnibus spending bill was passed. Unemployment and gas prices were up, to say the environment was hostile to incumbents is an understatement.

For Governor: Dennis Daugaard vs. Scott Heidepriem.

Scott’s campaign got off to a good start during the primaries. After the primary he faded; after a few false starts, the campaign never really got going. To be honest, I was somewhat confused, was he running as conservative Democrat or a liberal Republican? Dennis ran a fairly conservative campaign only rising to meet challenge and not much beyond, his message on spot on and the campaign was well executed.

For the Senate: John Thune vs. ?

There was lots of talk of who could run against the giant killer, even a sacrificial lamb. In the end no one stepped up.

For Congress: Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin vs. Kristi Noem

While this should have been a side show, however with Scott Heidepriem missing in action or just plain missing and not even a name to run against John Thune, this contest took center stage. Stephine was already at a disadvantage with that big ‘D’ after her name. She had defend her voting record, Her relationship with Nancy Pelosi, and a few other skeletons. Kristi wasn’t an angel either, she manage to rack up a fist full of traffic tickets, that she shrugged off, and so did most of South Dakota, until Stephine made an issue of it, Kristi manage to turn the DNC smear campaign against the Hereth-Sandlin campaign. If this race wasn’t the main event, It could have turned out much different.

In there was a number of state office and some local races and each had the predictable outcome.

In addition to all the campaign rhetoric There was this group called the TEA party making plenty of noise. This group isn’t anti-democrat or anti-republican, they are anti-tax and anti-establishment. They are tired of politics as usual and help defeat candidates, who in their mind, were unworthy. If a candidate took up the TEA party banner, they would be held accountable. For the congress critters that once proudly wore the TEA party label, they are finding it is a tad difficult to shed it. (it would be easier to make the sun set in the east.)

To summarize, For the Governorship and Senate seat, Republicans did not win, the Democrats were A-W-O-Loose. That left our poor little incumbent congress-lady to stand alone against a tidal wave of TEA. While she fought valiantly, in the end, the anti-democratic undercurrent proved too strong. Not so much as a Republican win as it was a Democrat loss.

The whole point of an AAR is to apply what was learned to the next exercise or event. To really learn anything we should go back to the 2008 Presidential race.

Barack Obama over the years built up a network of support. Not just though meet and greets and parties, but through social media. This (Obama) network, not only raked in the $$$, it also provided information, about the concerns of a area. At the same time it allowed his message to get out. The Obama network enabled the campaign to change the message from war to the economy very quickly.

Michael Steele at RNC Headquarters seen this, and wanted to create a GOP network for the republicans. A summit was called for web developers, gamers, coders, bloggers and just about anyone who knew anything about the internet. There were plans to build web tools, mobile apps, RSS feeds, on-line campaigning and all kinds of great things. The lack of leadership to help guide these folks lead to many of these projects self destructing. We are left with:




there are some GOP sites haven’t been updated since 2004 or earlier.

Save for a few links there is no real discernible connection between the local party organization to the state level on up to the national level.

Fast forward to August, 2011. The Democrats are on the move. They are testing messages, testing candidates. They are trying to see what resonates with voters. They are looking to not just take back control, they are looking for super majority, they just don’t want to defeat the Republican party, they want to crush the party, in to teeny, weenie, itty, bitty pieces, then use what is left over for fertilizer.

When mentioned the status party at the state level, we get this from one of the state officers:

Don?t just sit back and complain?.get involved. Organize your precinct and your county?.There is always so very much to be done in a ?pre-election? year and 2011 isn?t over yet!!
Anyone can write a letter to the editor praising the work of Congressman Kristi Noem?.don?t wait for the party chairman and the ex. director to do all the work. It is always easy to be the one pointing the finger of blame ? but let?s just be positive and begin working towards VICTORY in 2012!!

That kind of sounded like a rallying cry to me. Then I get this in my E-mail about the GOP booth at the Sioux Empire Fair:

Since I am on the Executive Committee (there was no meeting to discuss what we planned to do for the fair) I took the liberty of adding a few decorative touches to the booth?adding Siouxland Republican Elephant Stickers and buttons and generally making the booth a bit more inviting.  My suggestions of a petition or drawing of some kind were swiftly turned down and any other suggestion was received with no enthusiasm?something about doing it next year?and we don?t really NEED to work so hard on an off election year.

So am I frustrated??YES!

If the State party is inactive, and the county level doesn’t want too work so hard then why should the rank and file?

There is a lot going on, redistricting, the economy, the President’s approval rating is in freefall, a dynamic bunch running for the Republican nod and so much more. The Democrats are motivated, focused and got head start. There is plenty to get done and there is still time. Yes, we need to organize, and rally the volunteers, at the same time there needs to be some leadership from our officers.

10 Replies to “What Did We Learn, Really?”

  1. springer

    Really, the Rep in SF blew off the Sioux Empire Fair???! Where is the GOP leadership locally and state? If they want to get complacent, then it’s time to get some people in those positions that really care. Kudos to those who tried to run the booth at that fair.

  2. Anonymous

    Could you do me a favor and proof your posts before you post them, MC? We all make mistakes, typos, or just change our thoughts mid-sentence but forget to re-write it. But this kind of thing is fairly consistent and it’s starting to get irksome.

    In this post, for instance,
    “…gets together after exercise, mission or an event…” – missing an article between “after” and “exercise”
    “…leaving a disaster area with same questions…” – need that article again, in front of “same” this time.
    “The idea is make the unit, company…” – should be infinitive, “to make”
    “Scott?s campaign got off to a good start during the primaries, after the primary he faded then after a few false starts, never really got going. ” – run-on sentence, awkward.
    “There plans to build web…” – you mean “their”

    The medium should not distract over-much from the message, and that means the medium (the written word in this case) should be properly employed.

  3. Anonymous

    Most county parties are very active but 2 or 3 people do most of the work in each county.

    The SD GOP has downgraded the value of the county parties over the past several years by not making them an important part of the process.

    Someone needs to reach out and rebuild or we are going to lose in 2014 to a motivated Democratic party.

  4. anon

    If someone wants to organize the base of the SD GOP hire someone who knows the base. I can think of 5 people who are more than qualified and know 90% of the activists.

    Those are the people we should have rounded up after 2010.

  5. springer

    There’s nothing to prevent those five people from getting together and finding a way to make the present leadership get up and go, anon. If not, maybe people can do the work without the formal GOP leadership?

  6. El Toro Loco Grande (The Big Crazy (old) Bull)

    Who was that 2010 candidate that represented the superior liberal left against big John Thune?

    All these tough talking left heads on here, and not one believed in the manure they spread enough to cowboy up?


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