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Last August the seeds of dissention against the grassroots inside the RNC were sown and began to take root. At the committee meeting held during the Republican National Convention, several rules changes were adopted that reduced the power of the grassroots conservatives and libertarian leaning activists inside the GOP.
Since then activists inside the party have been organizing in order to remove or amend these rules and shift power back into the hands of the state parties and grassroots members and away from the heavy handed leadership trying to maintain control at the top.
This week in Los Angeles during the RNC's Spring meeting, many activists are working to overturn (or drastically amend) the rules adopted last August as well as elect new leadership that represents the growing decentralization of the movement.
Four very important incidents occured yesterday towards those efforts:
The rules committee elected a new chair, Bruce Ash from Arizona. Bruce voted for Morton Blackwell's complete repeal of the “Ben Ginsberg” convention rules. Ash voted in favor of the grassroots on three different votes that would repeal or amend the rules adopted last August. In contrast, his opponent Enid Green Mickelson from Utah voted against the rule changes and voted against empowering state parties each time. Bruce Ash stated that he is committed to working for complete repeal over the next two years.
The committee voted to take an oral roll call vote. This put everyone on record for or against the rule changes. (Passed)
The third vote was Morton’s “Full Repeal” of the rules passed at convention. Unfortunately this vote wasn't handled as well as it could have been during the floor fight and the rule change failed by three votes. 25 Yea - 28 Nay.
The committee also voted to repeal Rule 16, which disempowers the grassroots. It passed out of the Rules committee 31 Yea – 20 Nay.
While the grassroots wasn't successful in all their endeavors, there are some positive outcomes from yesterday's events. The new Committee Chair promised to continue to bring the subject up until we get full repeal. This will be a difficult task with the current delegate make up of the RNC, but having leadership that will not let the subject die is a good first step.
What's next for Rule 16?
The repeal effort now goes to the larger body (full RNC committee) on Friday where it must pass with a 75% threshold. This is a daunting number and chances are slim that those votes are there.
We are also working with delegates to make amendments to:
Rule 16 (a) (1) - Requires primaries and caucus to be binding.
Rule 16 (a) (2) - This is language to deal with delegates who do not support the candidate they were bound to, it enables the nominee to remove a delegate who does not support the candidate to whom the delegate was pledged – to direct that the delegate must follow State Party rules or state law;
Other power grabs from last fall's meeting included Rule 12. – Which allows the RNC to change rules at anytime, but it requires a (3/4) or 75% vote threshold to change rules. Dean Clancy called this move "unprecedented" stating that it gives the RNC the ability to ignore the convention on a whim.
The RNC is seemingly hellbent on making the same mistakes over and over, relying on a top down, heavy handed strategy instead of trusting their grassroots constituents who actually do the hard work it takes to get candidates elected. We saw the effects of ignoring the grassroots during the 2012 elections. Want a repeat? Aren't political parties supposed to be the vehicle for winning elections? If so, they may want to change their tactics and trust the base.
More than four dozen conservative, small (l) libertarian organizations representing millions of volunteers and activists signed a letter of support for full repeal of these rules. Will the powers that be pay attention? We'll see with the outcome of tomorrow's votes.