This past Saturday morning, bright and early at the Marriot Hotel in Minnetonka, the State Central Committee of the Minnesota GOP convened their regular December meeting in an atmosphere of both heartbreaking disappointment and grim determination. The stunning results of the mid-term election was the only subject of conversation as everyone checked in and sampled the coffee and donuts. There were many expressions of heartfelt thanks to volunteers who had passionately sacrificed vast amounts of time, energy and money to help get a superb field of endorsed Republican candidates across the finish line, only to experience bitter disappointment.
The meeting was called to order promptly at the appointed time and the business proceeded according to the agenda in a most Republican fashion, with the Pledge and the Invocation and all of the regular Roberts Rules steps observed in the regular way. There were officers’ reports and guest speakers to be accommodated along the way, and a Treasurer’s report that showed the Party in stronger and stronger financial condition, while everyone gradually followed along.
And then, quite unexpectedly, something very irregular began to quietly steal its way into the hall. There were victories to be celebrated, as well as defeats. Three House Districts and many state legislative seats had been held. There were spots of light in the ruins. As Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka asked “Who are we?” and Chair Carnahan answered that “Losing shows us who we are!”, there began to spread throughout the hall the silent feeling that the recent heartbreaking losses that we’d all felt, might in fact be the birthing pains of an historic opportunity….that what had felt like an ending might actually be a beginning….if only we have the strength and the will to make it happen.
As speaker after speaker addressed the delegates and alternates on the floor, from Jeff Johnson and Tom Emmer to Doug Wardlow, Pam Myrha, Jim Hagedorn, John Howe and Jim Newberger, the delegates and alternates began to respond to the notion that the defeat of yesterday could mean the rebirth of today. That the failure of the “the way we’ve always done it” subjects all of our old assumptions and methods to a complete rethinking and rejuvenation. And by the time our national committee members, Janet Biehofer and Rick Rice, spoke we were ready to feel the energy of big ideas again. By the end of the meeting, the entire assembly was ready to embrace “The Fine Art of Making Mistakes”: First, own it! Second, analyze it! Third, learn from it! And finally, move ahead stronger smarter faster and better!
As everyone left the hall, the conversation had been drastically changed to one of new frontiers and new ideas. Everything is on the table now and all the old sacred cows are dead. One could hardly have imagined a more positive outcome from a more despondent beginning.
Saturday’s State Central meeting was indeed a sincere reality check!