Thursday, July 11, 2013

Statement on the 2013 YRNF Convention and the Race for Chairman

To My Fellow Young Republican Leaders and Activists:

This week we will choose the individuals who will leader our organization for the next two years. 

Back in January I announced my candidacy for YRNF chairman hoping to use my experience as a parish (county) party leader, state committeeman, successful candidate for public office and campaign operative to reinvigorate the national organization and establish a greater role for the YRs in the senior party.

My primary goal was to leave the YRNF as strong in 2015 as it was when I attended my first YRLC in 1998, back when we had a paid-full-time executive director, a working office and a six-figure operating budget. 

As a candidate, it was my hope that we would have had the chance to directly share our vision and plans for the YRNF with our colleagues via the first chairman candidate debate in recent memory.

I have long felt that while horse trading and position bartering might make for successful “tickets” such practices do not necessarily result in successful administrations. 

Regrettably, the planned debate for the San Antonio national board meeting was officially scrubbed due to a lack of time, as a single hour dedicated for a public discussion about the future of the YRNF could not have been carved out from a two day schedule.

It is ironic that it was at that same venue Texas US Senator Ted Cruz talked about the importance of debates and forums to his election. 

And though the results of this week’s convention were set in stone at San Antonio, I do believe that this organization and the few hundred people who have traveled great distances at their own expense deserve to have a choice beyond the two active candidates.

Though I believe both are decent individuals, I cannot vote for either due to a matter of conscience in the case of one and philosophical differences with the other. 

And while I will do not anticipate to leave Mobile holding a national leadership position I would like to offer several ideas that I believe have merit and should be considered. 

First, we need selfless leadership who will be fully dedicated to building a stronger organization.  Our party suffers from a severe branding problem.  One of the sad ironies of the YRNF is that it is the most diverse of any of the auxiliary GOP organizations in the country yet our media presence is negligible. 

Rather than basking in the glow of Fox News, our officers should defer to extraordinary young leaders without profile to front for the YRNF on less friendly media outlets.  The YRNF is blessed by having a large number of non-traditional Republicans, individuals who can combat the prevailing negative narrative.  The YRNF does not need to be represented by club titles but different faces and articulate voices. 

Had I been elected I would have not conducted a single television interview and instead recruited a team of young, diverse spokesmen and women who do not fit the GOP stereotype and thus are that much more likely to be heard out than tuned out. 

Second, we need to become a younger organization.  At a minimum a “president rule” via constitutional amendment should be adopted prohibiting anyone over the age of 35 from being elected to a YRNF office.  A grace period of two years could be worked in to allow for this transition. 

Thirdly, quality control measures need to be implemented to ensure that participants receive a fair value from their board meeting registration fees.  Unhappy attendees communicate their displeasure by their absence at future events, which jeopardizes our capacity to attain quorum and conduct business.

And finally, the YRNF needs to become more engaged with the RNC.  We should have people representing this organization at their national meetings, if only to get the brand out.  Furthermore, RNC leaders should be invited to YRNF board meetings so they can hear what our activists have to say about the party and its direction. 

As the newly elected chairman of the Louisiana YRs, I fully intend to remain involved in the YRNF until I age out in 2015 and I will be happy to work with anyone to achieve the goals I have spelled out. 

I deeply care about this organization’s future and always considered service in the YRNF to be missionary work and not a springboard to higher political advancement. 

Since 1998 I have only missed a handful of national board meetings and have had the honor of holding two elected positions in the YRNF, winning SCA chairman at the age of 26 in 2000 and Regional Vice-Chairman a year later. 

But what gave me the most satisfaction was using my contacts with my state party and the RNC to leverage prominent speakers at events and to secure guest passes, floor access and aide positions for dozens of YRs to the past five national conventions.  I know exactly how hard my fellow activists work and how little recognition too many of us receive for our sweat equity.

It is my sincere hope that when I travel to Chicago in 2015 for what will be my final YR convention, that we will discuss what we accomplished over the past two years instead of ruefully speculating about what could have been. 

Michael Bayham