Monday, December 6, 2010

Republican Purge Problems

At the end of a long state central committee meeting December 4th a motion was made from the floor to "renounce" those republicans who publicly supported Tom Horner for governor. Those named were pretty much has beens although they included two nominally republican former governors and one nominally republican former senator. While much outrage was directed at these miscreants, an observer could be forgiven for wondering if delegates have too much time on their hands or are unable to think of a productive use with which to put that time. Having just won control of the state legislature a large segment of the delegation promptly looked backward and in a manner that made the RPM look petty, small and foolish.

The final vote on this ridiculous motion was 59 to 55. Lost in media reports, almost understandably so, was the fact that this motion split the party. Why would republican activists insist on proceeding with a course of action that would damage the party? Because these type of activists insist on being right and pure rather than effective or useful in winning elections. MC would have enjoyed listening to them explore why their candidate for governor failed in spectacular fashion in a wave election but no such self-reflection was forthcoming. Instead, another target was chosen and off they went: smug, self-righteous and tone-deaf.

Those opposed to the motion, including MC, tried to point out that this group of republicans should not be given the attention the motion would bring. How this motion would be perceived by the press and general public was dismissed out of hand by these Robespierre wanna bes. Needless to say, the publicity has been uniformly negative.

Unfortunately, there is a large overlap of these types of delegates with those in the RPM who think our entire election system is fraudulent, that Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is a communist or pals around with them and who see a conspiracy of some sort around every corner. This is a worrisome development on many levels, not least of which is the diversion from focusing on how to govern best in 2011. It also constitutes some sort of political pathology that will poison the party if left unchecked.

Our friend Craig Westover has a very different take on the issue and explains his position with his usual eloquence. Click here to read him.

MC doesn't care for those republicans who endorsed Horner any more than those delegates who thought the purge motion was a good idea. In our view, the cure was worse than the disease. These people are not moderates, either, and there should be no doubt about that. The best approach to outliers or those who have left the reservation is to ignore them. The need to punish is usually one best to avoid.

Now we'll have to live down the wholly expected media attention, the memes of civil war in the party and the glee of the recently defeated democrats. All this, of course, will pass. But the mindset that caused it is not likely to pass, at least quickly, and at some point in the near future the RPM will have to deal with the purity people who erode what they insist they wish to strengthen: the GOP brand.


Craig Westover said...

Thanks for the plug.

I agree with you about the negative publicity, but the Minnesota GOP gets negative publicity on most things we do -- right or wrong. That is a problem that goes beyond any particular issue.

The vote on Saturday is a case in point.

Recall that the Party's first reaction was to call the Horner supporters "quislings" and denigrate them as "as beens" and "irrelevant."
That was the time to take a reasoned approach, take an action like the SCC took on Saturday, and make the point that the GOP has an obligation to protect its brand. It was an opportunity to point out there is no such thing as a "progressive Republican" and differentiate Tom Emmer from Tom Horner in a positive way. Instead, we called them quislings.

Then again on Saturday, instead of having a statement prepared (I can't believe that party leadership did not know the motion was coming) in case the motion passed, or at the very least have discussed party response, we just let Tom Scheck (MPR) run with the story and the "punishment" angle.

I think the motion was right and proper and the party should not be diswayed from doing the right thing because of how the press might react. Instead we should manage the press, plan communications and be proactive rather than passive. Above all, we should get away from our negative communication strategy and start presenting a positive image of the party.

MikeWBL said...

Craig is an eloquent writer and is spot on most of the time. In this case I suggest Craig do some research on "Transactional Analysis" and then talk with a clinical psychologist regarding the motivations regarding the State Central Committee motion.

I took a graduate level class in psychology when I was in graduate school. This psychology class focused on transactional analysis which describes individual actions as a form of a child (natural child or an adapted child), an adult or a parent (natural parent or critical parent). The State Central Committee motion was a perfect example of a whiny and sore loser "adapted child". The adult would recognize that these former Governors, former Senator, etc. are “has beens” who are not involved in the Republican Party in any way shape or form. Additionally, KSTP sponsored a postelection survey which indicated more Horner voters actually came from DFL voters who did not want to vote for Dayton. The KSTP postelection survey indicated Dayton would have won by a larger majority without Horner. Therefore, this motion appears to be nothing more than a childish motion by sore losers who could not put a mirror up in front of them and simply recognize that we endorsed the wrong candidate at our 2010 state convention. The motion makes us look like little children in the world of public opinion.

Tell me where my analysis is wrong Craig.

Anonymous said...

At the risk of disagreeing with at least one side on every issue, I say the following:

I certainly did not expect that such an obviously counterproductive motion would be entertained, let alone achieve passage. I understand Mr. Westover's brilliant point about "protecting the brand" but cannot imagine this being the best way to do it. It was just plain internally inconsistent. It was in essence "expelling" people from the Party who very clearly were declared to be "former Republicans." You can't very well expel someone who has long since parted company.

I think MC reveals too much to say that "their" candidate for governor failed. He was OUR candidate for Governor. Why WE failed is worth exploring, but we should be more concerned about why thousands of nominal Republican voters voted for Horner, rather than just these dozen. We might even wonder why even MC says Mr. Emmer as "their" candidate, raising questions about who MC's candidate is.

One of those reasons may be that our election system IS flawed, and it is overseen (or improperly so, IMHO) by a partisan flack named Mark Ritchie. Those flaws are built into the law, and then exploited by a hyperpartisan application (or ignoring of) those laws. That is not the fault of the Republicans or their candidate choice, any more than is the huge disadvantage Republicans have with the left-leaning media. Contrary to your belief, I believe this stealing of elections will continue until fairness is restored and the malfeasant properly castigated.

Another reason I think the motion was wrong is that it flies in the face of both our unofficial and official rules. Unofficially, our goal ought to be bringing people INTO the Party, even wayward ones like these "former Republicans," if we can do so without unduly diluting or compromising our conservative principles. Certainly it is necessary for them to come to us in this matter, but we do that better when we don't put up barbed-wire fences and attack dogs. Officially, our Party constitution says that OFFICERS of the Party may be forced to give up their official posts only by a two-thirds vote, and only with full notice in advance of the meeting. These folks were not officers of the State Party nor were they allowed to prepare a defense. They were also not, to anyone's knowledge, officers of any local Party organization. Our Constitution does not even (though it should, I think) require a National Delegate, or state delegate, to support the endorsed candidate of the Party.

I still keep coming back to the official motion, wanting to deny "former Republicans" the right to be "current Republicans" for supporting another "former Republican," Tom Horner. I think that making sure that Republicans have POSITIVE brand ID is at least as important as protecting the brand ID. There are plenty of folks around, like the Strib, willing to tarnish it for us, for free; we don't need to waste our time doing it.

J. Ewing

Novanglus said...
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