Star Parker

There are now nine capable candidates vying for the chairman's job at the Republican National Committee. The day of reckoning will be Jan. 29, when 168 committee members from around the country will vote their preference.

The stakes are high this time around. It's different when you are looking for a caretaker - someone to keep a good thing going - as opposed to a turnaround specialist - someone to transform a loser into a winner.

Clearly after consecutive electoral shellackings led to Democratic takeovers in both houses of Congress and the White House, and significant drop-off in the number of self-identified Republican voters nationwide, it is the latter type of executive that the RNC needs. What kind of leadership talent should the RNC seek?

Republicans think of themselves as the party sympathetic to free enterprise. But the party has gotten off track applying sound business principles to its own operation.

The three most important management questions, according to famed management guru Peter Drucker, are: What is our business? Who is the customer? What does the customer consider value?

What is the business of the RNC? Some might say it is to get Republicans elected. I'd say that's inadequate. Clever marketing techniques can move product in the short run. But if customers are not happy, they don't come back.

If the party does not have a clear agenda, and is not making a positive sale based on that agenda, it's a sign of weakness. Republican national campaigns of recent years that have been defined by Willie Horton and Swift Boats may have defeated the other side. But they brought candidates into office with no clear mandate and eroded party definition and discipline.

The RNC business model must be based on positive marketing of its platform of traditional values, limited government, free enterprise and strong national defense. Candidates must be groomed who genuinely believe that it's this agenda - all of it - that keeps out country great and candidates who don't shouldn't be nominated.

Who is the customer? The RNC must genuinely view the full spectrum of the American electorate as its target market. What business can possibly grow by only focusing on customers who have already bought its product? Only going after low-hanging fruit is not a business plan that any venture capitalist would finance.

Republicans must get their message to the many diverse communities that make up our great country that they have ignored. Yes, I am certainly talking about black and Latino communities.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.