- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

T.S. Eliot once wrote that politics is too important to be left only to politicians. Last year, 1.4 million Americans from all 50 states resoundingly agreed and volunteered their time on behalf of President Bush’s re-election campaign.

Voters were evenly divided going into the election, but mobilizing an unprecedented number of volunteers enabled Mr. Bush to receive more popular votes than any candidate in American history. Democrats exceeded even their own expectations in spending more than $100 million more than Republicans, but were swamped by the millions of Americans who contacted their friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues and explained what re-electing Mr. Bush would mean: peace through freedom abroad, and an ownership society through more personal freedom here at home.

The 1.4 million volunteers and 7.5 million activists that propelled Bush-Cheney ‘04 to victory didn’t just sign up. The grass-roots energy that generated 102,000 calls into talk radio shows, 411,989 letters to the editor, 9.1 million volunteer door knocks and a total of 27.2 million volunteer phone calls enabled Mr. Bush to receive more popular votes than any candidate in American history, and a clear mandate from the American people.

Our grass-roots effort was so effective because our volunteers were spreading Mr. Bush’s bold agenda for a second term in office. The war on terror needs to be won. Social Security needs to be strengthened. Our judicial system needs to be reformed. Our tax code needs to be simplified. And that’s just the beginning.

Delivering on the president’s priorities and expanding our majority will not be easy, but we can do it by calling upon the grass-roots organization that propelled Republicans to victory in November.

The GOP must continue to stand for Grow Our Party. Good policy is good politics, and implementing the policies endorsed by the American people on Election Day gives Mr. Bush and Republicans in Congress an outstanding opportunity to continue to make red states redder and blue states purple.

Our party must take no vote for granted while remembering that there is no vote we can’t obtain. Just because a demographic group has not traditionally supported Republican candidates does not mean that group won’t respond to Mr. Bush’s freedom agenda.

It has been said that some people come to Washington to be something; and others come because they want to do something. Mr. Bush and his entire team are committed to doing important things for our country, our children and our future.

We are committed to saving Social Security and when we push to save Social Security, we have an historic chance to broaden our party to include more young Americans. If you’re 30 years old or younger and you care about a secure retirement, the Republican Party wants you.

We are committed to creating an “Ownership Society.” Whether reforming the tax code, reducing health-care costs or fulfilling the president’s pledge to have universal broadband access by 2007, our ownership agenda will help bring more people into our party.

We are committed to opening the doors of the party to all Americans. In 2004, Mr. Bush received 9 percent more of the Hispanic vote than in 2000. In 2005, we will recruit Latino doctors, accountants and teachers who are tired of frivolous lawsuits who will help us push for lawsuit reform and then join the party of Lincoln.

In 2004, Mr. Bush received 530,000 more black votes than in 2000. In 2005, we will engage blacks as the nation debates whether faith-based organizations should have a seat at the table and whether public schools need to be more accountable and parents need more choices, and we will broaden the Republican Party with more black support. And we will reach out to Asian American small-business owners and union workers in industrial states who want 21st-century jobs that today are driven offshore by an antiquated 20th-century tax code.

We are committed to bringing people into the party who have never been into politics. We will deepen our base by signing up Americans who aren’t registered to vote, but are tired of judicial activism and who agree that we need judges who interpret the law, not legislate from the bench.

If we enact and articulate our reform agenda, if we deepen and broaden the Republican Party so we’re growing our party, and if we work to institutionalize the grass-roots focus, our party can continue to earn the majority status we’ve won in the past two elections, and continue to expand our support even further.

If we accomplish these big goals, the Republican Party — the majority party in 2002 and 2004 — can cement its position for a generation. And in so doing, the Republican Party and its grass-roots energy will help the American people accomplish great things.

Ken Mehlman is chairman of theRepublicanNational Committee.

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