Fortunately, in an election year that has raised serious concern for many in the Republican Party, a seasoned, civilized, successful strategist has published a blueprint for what needs to be done to reconnect the party with its proud roots.
Ken Rietz is the Republican strategist in question. His new book, “Winning Campaigns, Losing Sight, Gaining Insight,” is the book he’s written that includes a blueprint for the future of the Republican Party.
Although Ken did not intend his book to serve this purpose, simply by reflecting and writing about his career as a political consultant, he captures and describes perfectly the critical processes one must employ to build and win a campaign. The way things are going now, it seems clear that Republicans will need to mount a serious campaign to re-introduce the party as soon as this election is over.
First step will be serious research. “We’ll have to understand fully what the public wants and needs,” he told us.
Next: “Based on our research, we’ll need to build a network of citizens who can ignite and sustain our political movement. My faith is in young voters, and my long experience proves that, given a voice and responsibility, they will over achieve our objectives on all levels.”
“Now, with our grassroots network in place, we need to create an organization that is both resilient and responsive. I understand that Donald Trump does not yet have a strong national organization for his campaign, but I’m certain Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee understands precisely what I mean. Running and winning campaigns is all about running a winning organization.”
“Finally, the creation of a message dynamic that captures the imagination, ambition and hopes of voters across the nation will build the support required to win. Voters need to believe that the candidate understands them and will improve their lives.”
Ken’s influence on numerous high profile campaigns including those of Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and Senators Bill Brock and Chic Hecht is impressive. But, like all truly great professionals he always plays down his role, deferring to a superior, or preferring to put the spotlight on someone he admires.
But, make no mistake, he worked in more than 100 political campaigns and won over 80% of them.
Former Senator William Brock (R-TN), a colleague, client and friend, called on Ken to help him with his Tennessee campaign “…at a time that was not easy politically. Like the rest of our country, we had seen more than a decade of the distrust and division an unpopular war had generated. Our young men were drafted to fight a war in a country they had never heard of for a cause they did not understand. They didn’t have any voice. They didn’t have any vote. They just went.”
Brock continues: “ In that same decade, they and their parents went through a time of dramatic change domestically—civil rights, voting rights, open housing and the rest. Our task was to find a way to give each voter in every community, in every county a sense that they had a voice and that someone was listening. We needed them to decide they wanted such a voice, and act on that decision.”
“Ken crafted and led the effort. He gave us themes to raise the sights and restore the confidence of each Tennessean that they could influence the course and direction of their country and their own future. He led the creation of organizations at the neighborhood and community level, so that those who wanted to affirm their involvement could do so and measure the consequences of their actions.”
“We won this election, and in doing so, we also proved something critically important about this country and its people—that the goodness of neighbors working for neighbors, every day in every way, in every community is no less ennobling than working with those same neighbors to strengthen their belief in themselves and their country through participation.”
Ken and Senator Brock went on to build even greater campaigns and grass roots organizations for the Republican Party, and, despite the devastating news that he would certainly lose his sight, Ken persevered, developing “insight” as he calls it, that important ability to discern value.
Today, Ken’s life is intertwined with that of his wife, Ursula in their home on a hilltop in Delaplane, Virginia. He insists he is retired but he cannot stop thinking about how to right the Republican ship. He worries that the RNC has become the victim of the distrust of Washington D.C., and that the bombs that are being thrown at D.C. will bruise the party badly.
“Consultants not citizens are in control now and there is much too much money flowing between consultants and the super pacs they create. We need to re-build the party from the bottom up.”
Right now, according to Ken, people are holding their breath.
“The Republican National Committee (RNC) is made up of volunteers who are elected by the states. They will and should have the power after the election. Paul Ryan will emerge as the ultimate leader. He’ll need a very good group of people around him and a strong RNC will be critically important.”
“Joanie Ernst, Mike Pence, Mitch Daniels, Marco Rubio, Kevin McCarthy and Pete Sessions will all be valued team members for Paul. They will help him rebuild the party.”
Basically, Ken believes that the party has to open its arms and avoid all litmus tests.
“It’s much more important to work with and for people who want to change the world than with people who meet a litmus test.”
It took Senator Brock and his team two and a half years to prepare for the rebirth of the Republican Party after Gerald Ford’s loss. They created young voter groups who went into communities and encouraged young people to run for office. Rietz and Brock helped create a program called “70,001” that assisted inner city youth get their GED’s.”
This could be how Ryan wins in 2020.
For more information about how Ken Rietz views the Trump Campaign, please visit his blog: www.kenrietz.com
Winning Campaigns, Losing Sight, Gaining Insight by Ken Rietz can be ordered on Amazon and is now available in bookstores.- www.kenrietz.com