Now that we have had some time to reflect after the November elections, many party members have been asking me, "where do we go from here?" I know as well from many of the organizations that I have visited and from our local elected officials that there is concern about the future direction of the Republican Party at the national, state and local levels. Indeed, many of the party faithful are wondering if we should change our focus and reorder our priorities.
It is helpful to recall that on this date 36 years ago, February 6, 1977, Ronald Reagan gave a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee that resonates today. He opined that "we are currently in the midst of a re-ordering of the political realities that have shaped our time." Reagan, speaking on his 66th birthday, went on to say, "we who are proud to call ourselves 'conservative' are not a minority of a minority party; we are part of the great majority of Americans of both major parties and of most of the independents as well."
When Reagan spoke in 1977 Republicans were facing difficulties very similar to what we face today. He saw a conservative future, and we know from history that his vision was true. Let us heed Reagan and not mistake confusion in our messaging for problems with our core beliefs. We know our principles are sound, and we will hone our focus and direct our efforts towards what is most needed at the national, state and local levels.
We have the opportunity to set an agenda where we can lead in those areas of the country most in need of conservative principles and where conservatism can work to cause dramatic change. It is an urban agenda, one that encompasses opportunity, enterprise and education reform and which can strike the fires of belief and hope in those with the most to benefit from a conservative message: minorities and underprivileged families.
We are seeing this agenda being put forth in a number of other states, but it is here in Ohio that Republicans are setting a national example. Governor John Kasich has worked steadfastly to reduce bureaucracy, regulatory burdens and complex tax structures to achieve an amazing turnaround in private sector job creation and business development. He has gotten the state's budget out of the red and has developed a comprehensive energy strategy. As a result Ohio is leading the Midwest in job creation and has seen its unemployment rate fall faster than the rest of the country.
Governor Kasich partnered with the Mayor of Cleveland to implement educational reforms that bring accountability to teachers and provide greater options for students. More recently, the Governor's educational financing initiatives have drawn the praise of educators and administrators and will cause dynamic and creative changes in school choice and educational performance.
We have the opportunity here in Cuyahoga County to further develop this urban agenda. Part of our strategy must be a clear plan for communicating our message and making sure it is heard by those desperately in need of the hope that jobs and growth will bring. Due to our successful support of county reform, we have Republican County Council members who will provide leadership and clarity as we work to re-establish Greater Cleveland as the economic engine that sustains Ohio as a Midwestern powerhouse.
We will also be working with our local mayors, state and national representatives and senators to implement workforce development and business creation initiatives. And we will be fighting tirelessly for transparency and accountability with all of our elected officials.
As Ronald Reagan said at the conclusion of his speech at CPAC:
Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. Any organization is in actuality only the lengthened shadow of its members. A political party is a mechanical structure created to further a cause. The cause, not the mechanism, brings and holds the members together. And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert and reapply America's spiritual heritage to our national affairs.
As we celebrate today the anniversary of President Reagan's birth, I believe that we are at the beginning of a new age of opportunity for conservatism and the values that it brings to Cuyahoga County. As we work on the important local elections this year and look forward to the elections of 2014, let us work together to seize that opportunity and win from within.