Scott Tibbs

You cannot win the game by only playing defense

By Scott Tibbs, March 29, 2023

A friend of mine recently shared a "memory" on Facebook from 2015, when the Monroe County Commissioners voted 2-1 to impose a minimum lot requirement making it illegal to subdivide land into parcels less than ten acres in large portions of the county. Conservatives had fought this battle way back in 1999. It helped Republicans win two of three at-large seats in 2000 and win a 5-2 majority on the county council two years later.

Unfortunately, conservatives were predestined to lose this fight as soon as it started. Why? Because we were playing defense from day one. This is why Democrats win, and Republicans lose at every level of politics - national, state and local. If Democrats want something and fail to achieve it, they will keep trying and failing until they finally gain enough support to get what they want. Republicans will try to achieve a goal, and after failing will give up. There are exceptions, but this is generally true.

Republicans won a 60-40 majority in the state house of representatives in 2010, and should have gone on offense then to protect private property rights. The state legislature could have forbidden minimum lot requirements then. Republicans picked up nine more seats in 2012. The establishment of minimum lot requirements in Monroe County in 2015 should have been preempted by the Republican super-majority two years earlier.

The minimum lot requirement is a teachable moment: You cannot win by playing defense. It is necessary to stop bad proposals from becoming law, but that is not enough. We have to make moves and advance legislation to put our own agenda into law, even if that only consists of making it illegal for local government to trample on private property rights. Playing defense is a losing game, because we give up ground inch by inch by only trying to hold the line. No, we need to start taking territory back. Until Republicans accept this very simple reality, we will continue to lose.

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