Today’s blog is a guest post from a friend and fellow Iowa State delegate, Bryan Sutton. He has been active for a long time, and is somewhat of an expert on parliamentary procedure. Please enjoy his post and look for him on Facebook.
I believe future historians will teach that August 24th, 2012 was the day the Republican Party died. This is the day that the Grand Old Party showed it was no longer grand, but merely a party of “Good Old Boys.” The actions of the Credentials and Rules Committees on this date clearly show this to be the case.
I am a 51-year-old, lifelong Republican. More than that, I’m the third generation (in a row) of my family to be active in the party. We have all held positions on our county central committees, been precinct chairs, county chairs, county, district, and state delegates. I will admit that none of us, to my knowledge, have served on the state central committee or in any national capacity. This is not for lack of desire, but those positions, historically, have required a level of financial independence and a time commitment that we have been unable to provide. I do think that having started as a junior delegate many years ago and the discussions my family has had gives me a unique insight into the history of the party and its recent actions.
Without going into history lesson, I will accept that modern politics are considered to have begun with the “primary” election process. While some states still use a caucus process, I think this is the point where “modern” politics is considered to have begun. This process was established to remove the power of the political “insiders” and give it to the electorate (voters). This is the process that I was raised in and believed in.
I was raised to believe that being a Republican meant having three core beliefs that shape all your political thinking: smallest government possible, governing at the lowest level possible, and thereby keeping taxes as low as possible. Historically, the rules of the RNC have fairly well followed these beliefs; they let the state parties determine what type of process to use (primary/caucus) and how to elect/apportion delegates to the national convention to represent them. The rules of the RNC had gone before the delegates to the national convention before those rules could be changed. The GOP also, historically, espoused that Republicans were persons who held high ethical standards, embodied personal integrity, and were personally responsible for their actions.
In 1975, Ronald Reagan defined Libertarianism as the heart and soul of Conservatism (July 1, 1975, Reason Magazine). Conservatism is what the GOP has claimed it has always stood for. Accepting Ronald Reagan’s definition then means that Libertarianism is the heart and soul of the GOP.
For many years I’ve seen the GOP losing its way. Endorsing bigger and bigger government (at both the state and federal levels), raising taxes, and compromising their principles; explaining it all as the only way to govern effectively. This is not the GOP I believe in. The actions of the RNC on Friday are final, proof positive that the GOP no longer exists. It no longer has any ethics or integrity. I would bet that nobody will accept responsibility for initiating those changes.
During the 2012 election cycle, the GOP had within it a strong resurgence of Libertarianism. The RNC had within its rules a fair way for candidates that were not mainstream (the favorite of the political insiders) to get their names placed on the national convention ballot for consideration to be nominated to run for president of the United States on the Republican ticket. The Libertarian movement within the GOP followed those rules and garnered a plurality of delegates in eight states; only five were required. By ignoring, bending, and outright breaking those rules the Credentialing Committee had previously unseated 3 of those states delegates and allowed the mainstream candidate to replace them with delegates favorable to him.
That left a problem, the Liberty candidate still had the requisite 5 states to be nominated and nobody from those states was challenging those delegations. Then, at the last minute, the chairperson of the Maine Credentialing Committee challenged its own decision that all the state delegates were properly credentialed. This allowed the RNC Credentials Committee to unseat all but five of the delegates from Maine. This is where the “Good Old Boys” party fully begins, on Friday the 24th of August 2012, and the GOP dies…..
By the RNC rules, the remaining delegates from a state are to choose the replacement delegates for that state if delegates are not seated and there are no remaining alternates. The RNC still had a problem at this point. The majority, if not all, of the remaining delegates were part of the Liberty movement and would likely choose like minded replacements; thereby still allowing the Liberty candidate to be nominated from the floor of the convention. The RNC decided, instead of following its own rules, to choose the replacement delegates itself. Those delegates, of course, support the mainstream candidate.
There were several other proposed changes to the rules governing the actions of the RNC that day also:
- Change the number of states required to be nominated from the floor from 5 to 8.
- Change the delegates required from those states from a plurality to a majority.
- Instead of allowing states to determine whether delegates to the national convention are bound or unbound; REQUIRE that all delegates be bound to vote a for a certain candidate.
All of these proposed changes are relatively insignificant in comparison to one. That rule is not a change, but a proposed additional rule. In short, it allows the RNC to change or add any rule it wants, at any time it wants, without that change or addition having to be approved by the full delegation of the national convention. This rule effectively ends any power to affect the direction of the Republican Party the voters may have remaining.
As I understand, the convention delegates will have two chances to approve/disapprove the proposed rules. However, since the RNC has stacked the delegation in favor of their chosen candidate, it is highly likely that the rules will be approved as presented. That will be final nail in the coffin of the GOP.
I find it appalling that the RNC would so blatantly lock out a known 20% of its electorate, the heart and soul of its electorate, after so many years of pandering to 8% of it. I say 20% because that is the percentage being quoted as Liberty minded or Constitutional conservatives. That 20% is perceived to be “newcomers” to the party; primarily young people that have recently found a political voice in the Liberty movement and became active in the party in an attempt to be heard. Personally, I think there are many more than 20%. They are people like me who have been active for years, but have not previously found much support in the party, at least not vocal support. From my own personal experience, when I started to speak out against the party supporting platform planks that were clearly unconstitutional; I found many more like me that felt the same way. Based on those whom I’ve spoken with, I would guess that the Liberty or Constitutional conservatives represent at least 50% of the party, if not more.
Is the GOP truly dead? After the actions of August 24th, 2012, in my mind; yes. Will the party disappear? I doubt it.
The Liberty movement has made itself known and is, at least partially, now represented in RNC; where it was not before. It now has the ability to begin shaping the future of the GOP. I fully encourage all Liberty minded people to become active at whatever level they are comfortable participating at. Whether this means talking to others and showing them the light of what a truly constitutionally conservative party can be or becoming active on a precinct, county, state, and/or national level; be active.
We ARE the future of the new Republican party, but it will not be given to us. The current insiders have shown they will not play by the rules, even their own rules, so we must reclaim the party; redefine, reshape, and redirect it so it once again becomes a truly Grand Old Party.
Whether the party is fractured beyond repair or will be reborn remains to be seen. In either case, I think that future historians will mark August 24th, 2012 as the day the Republican Party died.