If you’ve been reading here awhile, you probably know I was one of the most vocal opponents of the adoption of Rule 11 in favor of both Andy Harris and Bob Ehrlich two years ago. (If you have not been reading, this is what I’m talking about.) Last year, my like-minded friend Heather Olsen and I came tantalizingly and agonizingly close to making the Maryland GOP seek permission from the rank-and-file before adopting the rule in the future.
Well, the Republican National Committee has done it again, ramrodding through another rule change which is seemingly designed to enrich the powerful at the expense of the grassroots. This is one take on how Rule 16 was adopted:
Others who have chimed in say “these kinds of stunts are not acceptable and should not just be ignored” and “the establishment stole the GOP.” The new rules are a reaction to the “insurgent” Ron Paul, some say. (Boy, do I know how that goes.)
The scenario I fear, though, runs as follows.
Mitt Romney wins election in 2012 but is a centrist disappointment to those liberty-minded Republicans who re-elected a House majority and took back the Senate for the GOP, yet become dismayed by the backsliding in those bodies. Despite GOP majorities in both the House and Senate, Obamacare isn’t fully repealed, spending is still too high, and there’s little movement in getting government out of the way. Things are better economically, but the country still isn’t running on all cylinders and Democrats are planning an aggressive midterm campaign to build upon the lies and smears against the TEA Party (and, by extension, Republicans) recited by minority liberals and parroted by a compliant old-line media.
Because of that, President Romney’s approval rating is less than 50 percent, with Democrats obviously united against him but Republicans also not giving him great marks. They expected more movement on key issues I outlined above, and the honeymoon was short-lived thanks to the perception created by the media.
So Mitt Romney goes into his re-election campaign with the outcome in some serious doubt because rank-and-file Republicans are clamoring for a rightward direction that Romney and the establishment aren’t providing. Yet Rule 16 would make the 2016 nomination process a coronation rather than a discussion of ideas necessary for the party to advance the causes of liberty and limited government they claim to stand behind.
There is a silver lining, though. Another rule passed by the body in Tampa allows for changes in the rules to be passed by a 3/4 majority of the RNC body rather than remaining static through the four years between conventions. And while many considered that to be another way the establishment regains control of the party they feel slipping away to liberty-minded TEA Party members like myself, I can also see this as giving us the slimmest chance to succeed in revoking this disastrous rule before 2016.
Obviously the first step is getting a solid, monolithic bloc of 1/4 who will resist any changes to the rules to further favor incumbent, establishment candidates and encourage robust debate from all factions of the GOP. But there has to be a further push to get the rule rescinded before the 2016 nomination process begins.
Before I go on, I want to make it clear my statement is not to necessarily say we need to challenge an incumbent President Romney – although a primary battle wouldn’t bother me because I like to have options. In fairness, though, I have to point out that on the recent occasions where an unpopular incumbent faced a challenger from within his own party (Ronald Reagan vs. Gerald Ford in 1976, Ted Kennedy vs. Jimmy Carter in 1980, Pat Buchanan vs. George H.W. Bush in 1992) all ended up losing their re-election bid. On the other hand, incumbents who received a free ride (Ronald Reagan ’84, Bill Clinton ’96, George W. Bush ’04) won their second terms. In the modern era, we are fighting an uphill battle because Barack Obama didn’t receive a primary challenger and beating him in 2012 would overturn decades of history.
Returning to point, in Maryland we have three votes of the 168 total Republican National Committee members. Obviously two of the three weren’t making a big deal out of this change because I didn’t hear the names Louis Pope or Alex Mooney standing up against the new rules. I will say, though, it’s possible they could be on the pro-liberty side if enough people see this as an issue, nor do I know how the Maryland delegation voted because it was a voice vote and not a roll call, as it should have been given the closeness of the vote.
Instead, I believe this is a job for Nicolee Ambrose to take on, since she wasn’t officially part of this process – her term as National Committeewoman only began when the gavel came down on the Tampa convention. I’m convinced those who worked for her election are not going to be pleased if she doesn’t make a stand for the activists who elected her in a bitterly-fought contest. Going with the establishment flow and ignoring the grassroots who actually help the most with winning elections is the kind of move I would have expected from an Audrey Scott, but I hope for a better direction from Nicolee.
I’ve already talked to a few members of our Central Committee, and they are as upset about this as I am. While we know electing Republicans is job one, I suspect this is going to stick in our craw after the election. Don’t be surprised if our Fall Convention becomes a little more interesting once all the state’s Republicans gather together to discuss this issue along with the election results.