Thursday, January 03, 2013

AZGOP's next step is to work toward tolerance, inclusiveness by Alberto Gutier

The Arizona Republican Party is very much alive and well, thank you. Even though we lost the presidency to Barack Obama, Arizona remained in the Republican column while achieving great victories at the state and county levels.

A task that remains is how to make our party more tolerant and inclusive. Our goal as party officials should be to have a Republican Party that is willing to accept all ideologies on an equal basis, one that allows single-issue activists to promote their causes without creating divisions that affix labels to themselves or their opponents. We share the philosophy of lower taxes, less government intrusion in our lives, parental choice, a responsible welfare system and greater transparency in government spending.

The party of Lincoln, Goldwater and Reagan was strengthened by the support of conservative Democrats and independents who gave us the margin of victory in past elections. Barack Obama reminded us with his eloquence and populist message that there is another large bloc of voters who are concerned with the status quo of a two-party system. We must welcome these people with open arms.

We Republicans should cherish diversity of thought, of ways and of will. Differences can be worked out by encouraging tolerance for divergent views.

Abraham Lincoln said the Republican Party was composed of "strange, discordant and even hostile elements." That sounds like the Republican Party of today.

Unless we unite in purpose, welcome all strange, discordant and even hostile elements to our party, we will lose elections at the state and national levels.

I look back at my involvement in 100-plus campaigns spanning 49 years and recall helping candidates and causes of all philosophical persuasions.

The Republican Party is and always will be the party of opportunity for all; it is not captured by the Religious Right but is strengthened by its beliefs. It is not divided by moral issues but should not allow prejudices or political correctness to dictate the party platform.

All who join or want to join our party in sincerity should be given a lesson in tolerance by balancing their views with sound judgment. All who join or want to join our party should be welcomed and encouraged to speak their minds without immediately being labeled this or that. We will be ready for 2014 and beyond.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention. He is sergeant at arms of the Arizona Republican Party.

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