Social media is atwitter with protest from Republican delegates and grassroots activists as the Republican National Convention stands poised to vote on proposed rule changes which will fundamentally transform the process for nominating future presidential candidates. In an open letter to delegates in Tampa, Republican Liberty Caucus national chairman Dave Nalle summarizes what is at stake and urges opposition from the floor of the convention next week.
One of the cornerstones of the Grand Old Party is a belief in republicanism and the idea that power is distributed and limited by checks and balances. Those values are embodied in our Constitution and they were the basis of the Republican Party when it was founded and for most of its history. Historically this has meant that most of the power in the Republican Party has rested with the party members in the states, working as delegates through their local and state caucuses and conventions to generate policy for the party in a unique collaborative process where the voice of the people could be heard strongly.
… Now there are those in Tampa who seek to overturn this traditional structure of the party, set restrictions on the free choice of party members and introduce a new and alien process which would minimize the input of the party’s rank and file and put power in the hands of party leaders and wealthy special interests who can buy the loyalty of the mob. They have borrowed the organizing structure of the Democrats and authored rules which would cause our delegates to be bound by the votes of primary voters who may not be Republicans or share our values. They have also proposed that the presumed presidential nominee could remove our elected delegates at whim. Finally they want to remove control over the rule making process from the state parties to a small elite within the national committee of the party who can change the rules under which the party operates at any time. Without fixed rules arrived at by the consent of the rank and file of the party we [state and national delegates elected at local conventions] become pawns rather than participants in the political process.
I hope that all delegates in Tampa will join me in opposing this coup within the party. If you are a [delegate], please join with others in supporting the minority report and opposing these changes which will be voted on from the floor on Monday. If you are watching from home, please realize that the media is not covering this issue and reach out to any delegates you know and encourage them to stand up for the rights of the state parties and the many dedicated Republicans who took part in the grassroots process which makes our party unique and protects the interests of all of its members.
The text of the proposed rule changes is attached to Nalle’s letter. The RNC rules committee approved the changes last week. But the rules will not go into affect unless approved by the convention this week. If passed, these rules will make it significantly more difficult for minority delegations to effectively participate in the convention process.
It is worth pondering why the architects of these rule changes feel it necessary to shut out new blood. This “coup” as Nalle calls it is no doubt in response to the limited success of the Ron Paul organization in a handful of caucus states. Yet, Paul was unable to secure the plurality of delegates in fives states necessary to secure a speaking appearance at the national convention. His campaign never posed a credible threat to presumptive nominee Mitt Romney. So why act to silence such a slim minority within the party? Why not embrace their contribution and grow the party? Making the process more esoteric and inaccessible will only insulate future campaigns from the grassroots activists they need to recruit and motivate in order to succeed.