PA Businessman Meuser : “Reform the GOP”
One in a series of interviews with statewide GOP leaders
By: Chris Freind
Dan Meuser has been active in Republican politics for decades. After an immensely successful career as President of Pride Mobility, a worldwide leader in the design and manufacture of power mobility products, Meuser, 44, retired several months ago to dedicate his time, expertise and resources to political and civic endeavors. After watching his Party suffer significant losses in the last two election cycles, Meuser is more determined than ever rebuild the GOP and restore its once-favorable image throughout the Commonwealth. The Bulletin recently sat down with Meuser to discuss the future of the GOP in the Keystone state.
The Bulletin: The Republican Party imploded in the 2006 election, losing control of the US House and Senate, and effectively, the state house. While many Party leaders talked about making changes to get the party back on track, the situation only worsened. What caused the 2006 GOP collapse, and why weren’t the necessary changes made?
Dan Meuser: The platform of the Republican Party is most beneficial to the American people and the future prosperity of our nation. The problem is that we did not effectively communicate our principles to voters, nor did we act upon them while governing as the majority.
We did a terrible job telling the average voter what we were going to do for them and poorly articulated how our policies would affect people’s everyday lives. We must discuss our principles in a manner that clearly shows how they promote job creation and lower health care costs – and how middle-class tax cuts are so beneficial.
A major change that needs to take place is that politicians need to stop saying one thing to get elected, and then voting the opposite way in office.
TB: In 1980, Ronald Reagan chose three Pennsylvanians to be in his cabinet, not just from the same state, but the same COUNTY (Montgomery). In 1994, Pennsylvania was the most Republican state in the nation in terms of elected office holders (Gov., both houses of the state legislature, row offices, both US Senate seats, and a GOP congressional delegation). Now the Democrats have a 1.2 million voter edge in the Keystone State, with a firm grasp on most elected offices in the state. What transpired to make this huge turnaround a reality?
DM: Pennsylvania voters are center-right, and the Republican Party will have the opportunity to gain voters in the near future as long as we do the necessary preparation. The opportunity will come when the extreme liberal agenda of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reed surfaces in the new Congress and their definition of change becomes clear to voters.
We need to immediately start organizing our party and reaching out to perspective voters as they turn 18, invite College Republicans to our events and have strong local party leadership. We can work together with the County organizations and committee people to set and exceed voter registration goals.
TB: The GOP has only two statewide Republicans left: Attorney General Tom Corbett, who was one of the few bright spots with a resounding election day win, and Sen. Arlen Specter, who faces re-election in 2010. Some political observers say conservative Republicans can no longer win statewide. Do you agree with this assessment?
DM: Again, conservative principles help both the average working person and family prosper. We need to be specific in our agenda and lay out a plan for helping businesses create jobs, work to increase wages and yes, push for middle class tax cuts, as well as reducing health care and energy costs.
TB: Why didn’t the McCain campaign connect with the people? Should it have distanced itself from the Bush Administration’s policies earlier? What should its consistent theme have been?
DM: The McCain campaign did a poor job of communicating the record of Senator Obama. Independent publications assessed him and concluded that Barack Obama has the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate, yet the McCain campaign let him get away with running as a centrist. I’ll give you one example. Senator Obama voted 94 times to repeal tax cuts and increase taxes as a Senator, yet the exit polls show that voters believed Obama was better on lower taxes. This is because Obama communicated directly with the average voter, and the media did not challenge him or his record.
John McCain had many policy differences with the current administration and he should have been far more pronounced in his articulation of his positions much earlier in the campaign.
TB: A glaring deficiency in the GOP is its lack of a “bullpen”. What needs to happen in the short and long term to groom younger Republicans to lead the party? Do you think the GOP Establishment exhibits an “it’s your turn” mentality in selecting candidates (such as Bob Dole and John McCain) instead of choosing the best qualified people?
DM: The best leaders are often the most reluctant ones. Our Party needs to have an organized effort to reach out to community and business leaders. There should be accountability for Committee Members, County Chairs and elected officials to consistently grow our bullpen.
In hindsight regarding the recent Presidential election, some could argue that Governor Romney would have been much better suited to deal with the economic crisis and potentially could have laid out a more effective plan to help struggling families and fix the economy.
TB: With races for Governor and Senate in 2010, what is your outlook for the near future?
DM: The economy will continue to be the biggest concern in 2010. If we don’t do better articulating our message, we’ll be letting down thousands of families throughout Pennsylvania. If the extreme liberal agenda is left unchecked, such as the elimination of the secret ballot in union elections and increased taxes, Pennsylvania industry will continue to fade and it will be increasingly difficult to attract new business and bring jobs to our area. We need to advocate middle class tax cuts, offer tax credits for any small business that hires a new employee and work to reduce health care costs. These are the things that will help people and our economy recover from tough economic times.
Chris Freind can be reached at CF@TheBulletin.us