IN Roanoke 2: The Wilburness Mandate we reported on the political vision of the Roanoke Conference, one of three visions of the future we discerned between Roanoke 2013 and the RLC Kickoff event in Yakima.
But at Ocean Shores Midstreamers also emitted hints of new methodology, in addition to their old politics, that is, steering to the midpoint between American status quo and Democratic Socialism.
Why not, they seemed to be asking, run the Party like a business?
To help mull over the proposition, they brought in a mull ally.
Alan Mulally is President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company, the American manufacturing Icon. Before that he was president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Boeing’s senior executive in the Pacific Northwest. He knows something about business. Mulally and fellow Roanokian, Bob Herbold (former Microsoft COO) were the most qualified people at Roanoke to speak on any topic, each of them actually veteran, successful heads of a major American Corporation (or two).
Even more significant, Alan Mulally literally rescued Ford from a fiscal free-fall in 2006 to make it the most profitable automaker in the world by the end of 2010. Without a government bailout. Sounds like the kind of guy that the GOP needs. Someone who can save an aging mastodon from extinction.
But didn’t the King County Republican Party already crash that theory when Bob’s billionaire wife, Pat Herbold, test drove the King County Republican Party (as its Chair) right into the Young/Sotelo political ditch and a 69% losing record in just two years before giving up the steering wheel?
Husband Bob (who was being courted at the time to be the (self-financing) GOP Anointed One for Governor, and for whom Pat was ostensibly laying groundwork) pretty much pointed out the limitations as Pat stepped down – that there is a big difference between the things any corporate manager can do and grass roots political dynamics.
Bob got it exactly right. They are not at all the same thing. Nevertheless…
At Roanoke Mr. Mulally held forth on the attributes of good corporate management as if they were applicable to the political salvation needed. He spoke compellingly of accountability and commitment to a common vision that were keys to the turnaround at Ford. He used the Ford Fusion project as a model. Developed before he got there, when Mulally took over in 2006 the Fusion was failing and he got to the bottom of it. The project manager knew what was holding the car back, but was restrained from fixing it by a financial controller. When the same manager received adequate control to change the product, under Mulally’s leadership, the Fusion became successful and was awarded Motor Trend and North American Car of the Year in 2010.
But what are the lessons for the GOP?
How to run the Party like a Business
What if we took Alan Mulally’s illustration of the Ford Fusion product as a model for Republican Reform? What if Party Leaders were like the Fusion project leader and just needed more control over the product? State and County Chairs would have to put their finger in the air to determine political direction, not listen to the Republican base. They would, then, need to dictate to candidates what positions they would present to voters and how they would present it. And, of course, the workers lower down on the chain of command would need to do jobs that had been defined for them by others… enthusiastically.
- go further to identify what the public wants by polling
- go further to give Party Bosses control over choosing candidates to match the polls
- go further to give Party Bosses control over the message and
- go further to give Party Bosses control over grass roots’ activists.