Since becoming the ninth challenger to lose to a dead incumbent last year (rather than the first to ever win such an election), I made a conscious decision to get more involved in my local community of San Pedro. This included securing re-election to my former neighborhood council seat in Northwest San Pedro, ramping up my involvement with my brother Knights of Columbus, and joining the San Pedro Elks Lodge. All of these have contributed hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to the San Pedro community through their respective good works, and I am honored to be a member of each.
Participating in LAUSD’s Principal for a Day last February has also been one of my 2011 highlights, as I am now an honorary member of the “Crew” at Cabrillo Elementary School. I have been working with the great teachers and administrators to get a new computer lab set up for my adopted students, over 85% of whom come from a socially-disadvantaged background.
As I’ve engaged with community leaders in these and other activities throughout my community, I can’t help but make a political observation about volunteerism in general. I see a vast difference between how conservatives and liberals participate in these kinds of social opportunities: While conservatives have been proven to be the better donors and behind-the-scene volunteers, our counterparts do a better job of making sure their contributions and volunteerism is well documented through both media (photos & videos) and public recognition methods.
This is so much the case that many in the local community, despite my campaign last year, are still reacting to my news to them that I am actually a Republican. It’s not because Republicans do not volunteer; but I have observed that those that volunteer and those that run for political office in the Republican Party tend to be near-exclusive groups. Republicans tend to look for well-financed and well-connected candidates, but miss a very important step that Democrats do a much better job of enforcing among their candidates. By the time a Democratic candidate is being vetted, he/she has an extensive resume of volunteer groups listed, and multiple photos & certificates of appreciation as proof.
I’ve heard the excuses from our candidates that “Republicans don’t have time because they work for a living”, but I believe this is a cop-out. We have many GOP activists contributing hundreds of hours each year, including the 100+ regular volunteers who worked on my campaign. As much as I am truly honored to have their support, I now feel an obligation to make myself a better candidate for the future by studying both my campaign and others to improve our opportunities. This is a commitment I hope our GOP candidates for 2012 also make – we need to show voters throughout our communities, our county and our state that Republicans understand the importance of giving of one’s time to worthy causes.
And when they do, they need to make sure someone is there with their digital camera, flip video recorder, smartphone, or whatever they need to show their active participation. This is what Democrats do FAR better than Republicans do.
As our former CRP Chairman used to tell activists, “Elections are won by those that show up”. Republicans already do a good job of showing up (and donating thousands of dollars) to community causes and worthwhile projects. Voters need to be shown this, and supporters need their candidates to help them make that case!
Let’s get out there and show our communities who the real heroes are!