Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Direction of the Michigan Republican Parties (State, County, District)

I'm probably going to be saying this line often in the next year or so. "I'm an elections guy first."

Jason Gillman of Right Michigan and I are having a cross blog philosophy discussion that I think cuts in a way to some of the disconnect between factions within the party.One discussion is here, and  a second discussion is here. A third one is here. I think this is a very important discussion to have, and there are some points on both sides here.  Today, Kevin Rex Heine had his own article here which had the results by district. Districts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 13 went for Courser. Districts 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 went for Schostak. Courser cleaned up in districts 2 and 3 and won 5 solidly. The other two districts were narrow. Schostak cleaned up in districts 4, 7, 9, and 14 and won 8 solidly. The other districts were narrow.

I'll say this to the change advocates. As someone who has been around 12 years and is probably considered establishment (as a county chair), I'm not your enemy. I wasn't even a Romney primary supporter. Not everyone who has been around over 5 years is your enemy. However, when you use words like "take over", you going to have a problem - and you're going to have people who ideology wise would probably be your ally going against you.

I don't like coronation politics - and "take over" politics is no different than coronation politics except it's a different "team". (I cringe at the term "coronation politics" being co-opted for a different campaign by someone else in a 3-way campaign I was also involved in, but that's another story - I used it in 2011). I didn't like the Romney coronation. I didn't like it for Hoekstra. I didn't like the attempts for it for Ron Paul at RNC convention after losing the primaries or Gary Glenn by MI4CS. The easiest thing to get my opposition is to try "take over" or coronation politics. I don't care which faction or side you are on. I don't have time for Big Fish in Small Ponds. I don't have time for that bullshit, and I'll even pay the quarter for using that term during Lent.

I'm also not going to sugarcoat things. National isn't making things easy for us at all right now. Between Boehner, Rove, Romney's campaign and project Orca, DC consulting class, and cave after cave on all fiscal matters, we're taking hits here for the poor work of others. The gas tax proposal isn't helping us right now either. I'll just say that I'm 100% in agreement with my senator Joe Hune in his opposition to that. Does Joe get the credit for this? He should. If you're going to stay home from voting to send Snyder or DC a message, Joe gets punished as well. That ain't right. A lot of people stayed home in 2012 (and 2008). Let's also remember that Right to Work would not have been passed if it wasn't for Rick Snyder. Give him credit there. Personal property tax (a major killer) is gone. MBT is gone.

A lot of activists are mad right now for a few reasons. I think the Romney coronation - especially in Michigan was extremely harmful for the party. We're still paying for it. Part or it was that the tactic was a short term success in helping Romney get the nomination. This was a Karl Rove playbook type of operation. Be aggressive in the primary, and be passive in the general.  Romney lost, which made it worse. People are taking pages from that Romney playbook for party coronation attempts and take over politics - as a reaction to what was done for Romney. That's what we are dealing with right now. It's putting us at each other's throats.With national's caving on issues, it's making it even worse. I don't like it either.

In Michigan, we have in reality about 100 Republican Parties. There's State Party/MRP, then there's 82 county parties (Wayne Caucuses) and 14 district parties. They are all different in dynamic. As a County Chair and District Treasurer, I have no control on what national does, what Rove does, or even what our elected officials do. I also have limited control on policy at either county or district level - despite setting agendas in county and controlling the money in district. I can't endorse as Chair. I could push for a bunch of resolutions, but that's a waste of time. They have no real effect. Calling our reps has more effect than a resolution. What I can do is publicize the good things our elected are doing. I also make sure our election operations are ready to go. That's my job. Elections. There's other things as well, but everything directly or indirectly goes back to elections - specifically elections impacting the first two words in our party - Livingston County (or 8th District with the other committee).

I am getting tired of people thinking that being a "True Conservative" or a "Constitutional Conservative" automatically qualifies one for a party leadership position. It doesn't. Been there, done that for 12 years, and even swore an oath to the Constitution. That doesn't qualify me either to be county party chair. What qualifies one for that position is the ability to get those "Constitutional Conservatives" elected. That's the key. Constitutional conservative candidates do not help us when they are not elected.

My own philosophy when it comes to supporting people for county, district, and state committees is to support workers. Who shows up and helps? Who has the skill sets to contribute? Who works well with the team? Who is involved in campaigns? Who understands elections? Who shows up in meetings? Who is active in conservative causes?  In Livingston County, that tends to be mostly conservatives across the board so we don't have the ideology battles very often. Any that do happen are either personality based or tactical based.

For those with ideology problems with current GOP elected officials, there's a method that can be used to rectify it. It's an old one which has been around a long time. Primaries. Just remember that if you're going to run a campaign, you have to do it properly or any primary challenge will go nowhere before it gets off the ground, much like these third party runs that always go nowhere. Speaking of third parties, as far as I'm concerned, third party activists are no different than democrats and will be treated accordingly.

It's time for those in so called "establishment" and those with grievances to discuss matters and for all sides to acknowledge the following.

1. There is a fractured party. Denying it doesn't make it untrue. It's hardly a secret.

2. Part of the fracture is due to the coronation politics and take over pushes - on ALL sides. Romney did a TON of damage here. Rove made it worse. Gary Johnson supporters who want to be Republican precinct delegates as well didn't help matters either. Dictatorial demands lead to those demands getting a middle finger in response.

3. The Republican base is extremely frustrated with Washington DC and the caving by national leadership - over and over and over again. This isn't a one time matter. This is all the time. This is as damaging as Romney and Rove.

4. If Republicans do not stand for lower taxes and fiscal responsibility, then what do we stand for?  This is a frustration, at least in spending, that goes back to the Bush years. Today, the Bush years are looked at as almost fiscal responsibility compared to today. Boehner needs to man up and stand up to Obama. The one bad part about Mike Pence becoming Governor of Indiana is that his presence in the House is sorely missed.

5. We need at least 50% +1 to win. There's a lot of things that need to happen in elections for that to happen. Being a "true conservative" is not enough. Saying that you are a true conservative 100 times is counter productive because you're not focused on things that matter to most people. Competence issues. "Doing the job" issues. You can be a strong conservative on both economic and social issues and get moderate and even some liberal votes. You can't do that if you yap about it all the time. Why? Because those voters think that you're not doing your job by focusing on those issues all the time.  On the same note, don't open yourself to a double flanking by not standing for anything and going leftist and caving. Both of those things are a good way to lose.

6. Elections aren't an art. They don't magically happen. They are a process that requires planning, knowledge, time, money, and energy. All wings of the party have had their successes and failures. If you don't know how to win (which is at times different in each race and each area), you shouldn't be running the show. If a plan is not going correctly, it's time to adjust. Good leaders do that. That goes for all sides.

7. It's time to end this "take over" talk. It does not do anything constructive and right on its face puts people at odds. It creates enemies.

We have a problem. Time to fix it. 2014 is on the horizon. 


Jason Gillman said...

Its not about wanting to be the big cheese.

My own case is a perfect example. I don't want to be a rep for example.

However, if there is a substandard bearer, and I happen to be the only one left who represents my ideals, I may have to be. The same goes for chief of each of those 100 parties, or even the top guy.

Sometimes you don't see those guys until that time comes, and then they are seen as interlopers.

If someone is clear in their ideas, and speaks the right language I'll be inclined to ghive an opportunity to prove it if the alternative is waiting through another term of mediocrity.

We only have so much time on earth, we need to make it count.

Communications guru said...

This stuff is hard to read, but I can tell you the direction the Grand Oil Party is taking: to the right directly off the cliff. Teabaggers are just the fringe that has always been there. I saw them in the mid-1990s when I worked for papers in Lenawee County, but they were called the militia. You can’t call them the “tea party” because they stand for nothing, and they know they will never be a party because voters would reject them.

It’s exactly about wanting to be the big cheese. Gillman is the only person I have ever seen who has as big as ego as you do. “I don't want to be a rep for example?” That’s a lie, but you can’t even get through a Republican primary.

Communications guru said...

MIRS reported today that teabaggers won “only 20 percent of the seats on the MRP's governing board” at the convention on Saturday. Sounds like a fringe to me. The other good news is that there are a few sane Republicans left, and we saw 29 of them yesterday with the passage of House Bill 4111 that accepted grant dollars for a state-federal partnership health exchange.