Many words have been typed lately about whether the “Republican Establishment” (“RE”) has been cramming a particular candidate down the throats of the “conservative base” of “the Republican Party.” Some have made the obvious, good point that the RE cannot cast the votes that result in, for example, Mitt Romney winning the Republican primaries and caucuses. Rather, obviously, the voters who bother to show up and vote cast those votes. (More later about how part of the RE can, and does, impact those contests.) Keep in mind that, so far, with the exception of South Carolina (if memory serves me, and I may be wrong about this), turnout in every primary or caucus has been lower than in 2008. What does that say about the (mythical?) “conservative base” of “the Republican Party” we all keep reading about?
Now, regarding “the Republican Party,” let’s define some terms. Because it relates to one part of the RE. Some have written that “the Republican Party” is composed of millions of different people. Not exactly. Yes, millions of people have registered with their county elections department that they would like to be identified as a Republican, but that does not make them a member of the Party itself.
Voters who self-identify as Republicans when registering to vote might think of themselves as “members” of the Republican Party, but without more they really aren’t. Some of them might send enough money to the Republican National Committee, for example, to get in return a nice plastic card embossed with their name telling them they are a “Sustaining Member” of the RNC, but that doesn’t make them a member of the Party. They may even do many good things on behalf of the Republican Party itself (for example, they might give money to the Party at the local, state, or national levels; they might volunteer at their county committee headquarters, they might volunteer to help with campaigns of Republican candidates in the general or primary elections, etc.).
All of those efforts are laudable, but none of them make those registered Republican voters part of “the Republican Party.”
To become part of the RE inside the Party itself, to be in a position to affect some of the things part of the RE, that part inside the Party at the Republican National Committee, does, one has to become a “voting member” of the Party.
So let’s examine some of the things one part of the RE, the Republican National Committee and its Chairman, and the state Republican Party chairmen and the state committees can, and have, done to affect the primary process.
The state Republican Party committees can affect whether their Republican primary is “closed” to only registered Republican voters or open. Who comprise these state Party committees? Every state has a different system, but, basically, those Republican voters who take the necessary steps to become “voting members” of the Party where they live (called precinct committeeman in most states) get to elect, directly or indirectly, the members of the state committees. (I’ve compiled what I’ve been able to find about “how it works” in each state at my little blog linked below.) The state committees can also affect when on the calendar their state’s primary falls, and this can affect, per the Rules of the Republican Party of the RNC, whether the state awards delegates on a winner-take-all or proportionate basis.
The RNC members write the Rules of the Republican Party, as already mentioned, and those Rules can affect which of the state primary and caucus contests come first. This order, some say, could favor the candidate the RE favors.
The RNC members also have determined the scheduling and formats of most of the primary “debates.” Have you been happy with the format? Have you been happy with the networks carrying them? Been happy with the “moderators?” Did you have a vote in determining who became the RNC members? Some of us did. Here in Arizona, in January of 2011, those of us who expended the effort to become precinct committeemen, and then were fortunate to be elected state committeeman, then elected our state chairman (the precinct committeemen in each legislative district, per the state committee bylaws, may elect one state committeeman for every three elected PCs in the distict). Because we had a majority of conservative PCs across the state, a majority of the state committeemen whom the PCs elected turned out to be conservatives and they, in turn, elected a conservative to the state chairman post. Our conservative state chairman is a member of the RNC. At our upcoming state convention the state committeemen will elect our two other RNC delegates. We conservative state committeemen hope to elect two conservatives.
So, if you want to affect that part of the RE inside the Party itself, you have to become a voting member of the Party. There are plenty of vacancies (about half of the Republican Party PC slots are vacant in every state and about one-third of the precincts across the country have no Republican precinct committeemen at all), and the time for becoming a voting member of your state Party for the upcoming election cycle may not have yet expired. The deadline has expired already in a few states. Do you know the deadlines for your state? Do you know how to become a precinct committeeman in your state? Do you think becoming a voting member of the Party matters and is worth your time and effort? Take a look at what is happening right now in Ohio. None of this would be happening within the Ohio Republican Party state committee if more conservatives had become elected precinct committeemen in Ohio. In Ohio, one needs only FIVE signatures to get on the ballot to run for the office of Republican Party precinct committeeman. Five.
So, if you want to become a part of that part of the RE that is “the Republican Party,” one way is to become a precinct committeeman in your “political neighborhood” — your precinct.
Second, if you are planning on not voting for the Republican nominee if it turns out “your guy” does not win the nomination, are you willing to take the risk that a President Barack Hussein Obama, in his second term, will select more Supreme Court justices and federal district court judges and appeals court justices? Will you be okay with Supreme Court Justices Eric Holder and Debbie Wasserman Schultz?
In 2012, will YOU become a “voting member” of the Republican Party in your precinct?