News & Politics

GOP Rank-and-File Revolted and the Party Is Stronger for It

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump react as they watch the election results during Trump's election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/John Locher)

“Who did you pass on the road?” the King asked. “Nobody,” said the Messenger. “Quite right,” said the King. “This young lady saw him too. So, of course, Nobody walks slower than you.”

From Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

About a Week Ago

The Ohio Republican Central Committee votes to replace the chair of the state party, Matt Borges, with Jane Timken, a local GOP county official and Republican donor who was endorsed by President-elect Donald Trump. Timken’s victory is all the more remarkable considering Borges was a close ally of Governor John Kasich, and both Borges and Kasich worked very hard to keep their supporters on the state central committee during the last election cycle. Both Borges and Kasich are viewed as RINOs and “Never Trumpers” by the conservative wing of the state party, a conglomeration of various groups considered akin to a “rebel alliance” by the party establishment.

About Two Months Ago

News outlets declare Republican Donald Trump the winner over Democrat Hillary Clinton in a surprise presidential election finish. For months, nearly all public-opinion polls showed Clinton winning the election. Pundits viewed Trump’s win as a come-from-behind victory since they were predicting Trump couldn’t win most of the critical battle grounds states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

About Two Months Ago, Plus One Day

Trump wins Ohio by nearly nine percentage points and (my) Greene County, Ohio, by nearly 25 percentage points. Eighty-one of Ohio’s 88 counties, most of them rural, give the election to Trump with large margins.

About Eight Months Ago

Across Ohio, many rural county Republican central committees develop election ground games in support of Trump. This includes staffing booths at local fairs and festivals, distributing signs and other election literature and gear, and many volunteers walking door to door. These efforts result in a noticeable Trump presence across Ohio. In Greene County alone, volunteers passed out 15,000 information packets and 30,000 slate cards.

About 10 Months Ago

The local rebel alliance takes over leadership of the Greene County Republican Central Committee by winning five out of six executive committee positions and 18 out of 25 contested precinct races. There are audible gasps by the political class as the voting results come in. Furthermore, several prominent Republican RINO candidates do not receive county party endorsements. Similar results occur in many other Ohio counties. Borges and other state party leaders throw tantrums.

About 12 Months Ago

The Greene County rebel alliance, a.k.a the Greene County Freedom Caucus, frustrated with GOP leadership, begins setting out a plan to energize their base, encourage members to run for local precinct slots and provide members election and campaign training.

Back to the Future

After the Greene County Republican Central Committee vote 10 months ago, mentioned above, one unhappy member I was sitting next to said it was all Trump’s fault. But he had it backward. The vote was not a result of Trump. Rather, Trump, and victories by other party outsiders, occurred because the GOP had failed its base.

Borges’ ouster on January 6, and the downfall of other political bosses may have occurred recently, but the process started 12 months earlier. Republican leaders forgot House Speaker Tip O’Neil’s warning that “All politics is local.” So, we had to remind them. And paraphrasing the A-Team’s Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together” …even if it took 12 months to execute.

Republican leaders failed at delivering what they promised and what their members wanted: lower the debt, balance the budget, end failing government programs, control our corrupt and uncontrollable bureaucracies, fix our broken cities, restore our lost liberties, and reinvigorate our exhausted human capital. Or, given the political realities of Washington, even one out of seven wouldn’t be bad.

Applying Jefferson’s observation from the Declaration of Independence, the Republican base for many years was “disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” In other words, we have put up with party leaders continually failing us until the only option left to us is to take action.

Organizations are weakened only when they are monolithic and dissent and change are not allowed. Self-critique is the mother’s milk of self-improvement. It’s just that politics is as beautiful as sausage production.

During the election year, Democrats gleamed with glee at what they erroneously saw as a GOP in turmoil. Democratic posts on social media declared, “Vote Blue, No Matter Who.” A somewhat silly call to arms, made to look like the Democratic Party was in complete harmony.

But what Democrats saw as a weakness was, in reality, a strength. With all of the bitter fighting within the GOP over the past year, the Republican Party today is much stronger than it was last year. The same can’t be said about the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party’s rank-and-file should also consider cleaning out their house. Yes, a sane Democratic Party may provide competition for the GOP, but the country would be better off with two rebooted political parties.

However, we shouldn’t be naïve. If we both find out, as the rock group The Who suggested in their song “We Won’t Get Fooled Again,” that the new bosses are the same as the old bosses, then let’s throw the new bosses out too. We should always be Americans first, party members second.

A prominent Fox commentator once asked his guests what was the single most important cause for the country’s problems. The guests, from all sides of the political spectrum, responded with the typical answers: the president, Congress, the Federal Reserve, and so on.

These answers were not what the host wanted to hear. After the round robin, the host gave his answer: the problem lies with “us.”

Arrogance is not limited to the Democratic Party. Both parties have political classes. And do not doubt that the political class despises the citizen class because to the political class, the citizen class is filled with nobodies; the citizen class is the “nobody class.”

But nobodies can do great things. So, if you become involved in politics and someone from the political class asks you, who do you think you are? Think of the Red King’s conversation with his messenger at the beginning of this article, and what the many nobodies did this past election cycle and respond, “We’re nobodies, and nobody is more powerful than that.”