Grassroots or Astroturf?

In this ‘View From the Bunker’ we will look at another way the Republican Party sometimes looks like ‘a bunch of wacko-birds’ (to quote a famous Senator) from my post in ‘The Bunker’.

In the Republican party the officers are elected by the precinct delegates, who in turn are elected by the citizens of each precinct.  Now in most organizations those elected by the body of the organization are accountable to the members to represent their interests in carrying out their assigned duties as spelled out in the by-laws.  If they do not, there are procedures for members to remove them from office.  The by-laws of all the Tea Party organizations installed by Southwest Michigan Patriots had such provisions in them when they started up.  It seems that many GOP organizations do not have such safety valves built in.  They must be written with care in order to prevent ‘lynch mob’ mentality from destroying an organization.  However, they are needed.

The Republican Party District Chairs and the State Party Chair are also elected by precinct delegates at specific conventions held for that purpose.  Thus it would seem that the party would then in-turn reflect the wishes of those who elected them as the elected officers and committee members go about their jobs of accomplishing the goals that they were elected to fulfill.  For example the current state chair campaigned on a promise to grow the grassroots and he is taking steps and allocating funding to do just that.  However his is a plan to recruit activist, grassroots citizens, not docile, Astroturf drones.

In Michigan the Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State and several other candidates on the ballot in the general elections are chosen in a convention of the elected precinct delegates from those who present themselves as candidates at that convention.  Although Michigan election law sets these circumstances there are those who do not wish to honor the law and allow any candidates for Lt. Governor other than one chosen by whomever has won the primary election to run as candidate for Governor.

We party members who are watching as new (or re-tread) folks would expect that those elected by the grassroots precinct delegates would follow not only the letter, but the spirit of the law and see to it that all who are qualified to present themselves for a position at the convention are able to.  However, it seems that many of the elected officials of the party refuse to authorize anyone to challenge the incumbent Lt. Governor.  There is an affidavit that district chairs and/or state committee members are to sign to indicate that they recognize the candidate is qualified to present himself for the position.  It is clear that the form is NOT an endorsement of the individual.  Many of these officers have refused to sign the affidavit for reasons other than the fitness of the candidate or so it seems.

This refusal seems to be very odd.  Why would an officer elected by the grassroots not give one of the grassroots the authorization to present themselves before the convention for judgment of their candidacy?  It is almost as those officers are either responding to the wishes of another candidate for that office over the wishes of the grassroots or that they have some other conflict of interest that would cause them to turn their backs on those who elected them and those that they expect to work to elect our candidates in the general election.  This is indeed a very odd expectation.

In another very strange development it has been reported that although the Michigan Republican Party has a drive on this election cycle to add precinct delegates in a move to increase the activist base across the state, some counties have drastically cut their allocations for them.  It has been reported that individuals from outside the elected officers and some who are elected officers of the party have asked county chairs to drastically reduce their authorized precinct delegate counts instead of increasing them.  It seems that the purpose is to hopefully drop some delegates that may be more conservative grassroots than these individuals would like.

Again, this makes no sense at all to some who think that the purpose of a political party is to grow its base and then work with them to elect people who will carry out the party platform.  How would having less precinct delegates make any sense whatsoever if you are growing the grassroots?  Why would those who have been elected by the grassroots of the party then work against the interests of the party?  Do they have conflicts of interest?  Whatever their reason, this is something that we need to look into as a party and ensure that the interests of the party and the grassroots are not frustrated by those outside the party either by funds or promises of employment or other such corrupting influence.

Contests for ballot positions are good; that is an indication of a vibrant party that people want enough to be a part of that they will compete for positions within it.

Many years ago, I earned my place as a starter on my high school football team.  It was hard and included much work year round to ensure that I was the strongest and quickest person competing for that position.  Every week others were trying to knock me back to ‘riding the pine’ and I had to stay on top of my game to remain a starter (and ‘wow’ the cheerleaders….).  This took place for every position on the team and insured the best team took the field on Friday night.

We need competition in order to field our best team as Republicans also.  Let’s all work to rid our party of the corrupting influence of outsiders and ensure it responds to the wishes of the grassroots.  Let’s select the best team through fair competition.  Having our candidates picked for us by party bosses sounds way too much like what happens on the ‘other side’ and is abhorrent to the grassroots.

We need a party that will continue to attract true patriots who will appeal to the majority of voters in future elections.  At the same time, we must root out the corrupting influences and those who have been corrupted by them.  I have faith that my fellow activist, Grassroots citizens will prevail over the Astroturf drones in any contest.

….and that’s how it looks from here in The Bunker.