Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fear and Loathing on the Road to the NCSEN Primary

"The stage lay set in a perfectly diabolical manner.  All the pieces were in place. 

The pesky media stood docilely outside - locked out by having the event in a church.  A similar tactic worked well when the mafia needed to meet away from the prying eyes of law enforcement - using their doctors' and lawyers' offices to gain a certain freedom to conduct business.   If a tactic like that worked for them, why not for a political party convention?

The plan for the new rules change had been kept secret and hidden like an assassin's poison ready to do it's ugly work.  The snake-oil salesmen rehearsed their pitches well to ensure it was taken in by the audience with ease - ready to spin anyone brave enough to try and talk some sense into the crowd. 

A sense of F.E.A.R. - False Evidence Appearing Real - permeated the room."

Channeling Hunter S Thompson and picturing a large, free-flowing vat of electric cool-aid provides the best way to make sense of what happened last Saturday at the MeckGOP convention after reading this piece by Christian Hine over at

Rule 19(a) as passed by the latest MeckGOP convention effectively eliminates issue-based resolutions at the county convention.  This comes on the heals of the unanimous issue based resolution against HOT lanes at last year's convention.  The rule will likely become a divisive lightning rod in future conventions as one can picture grassroots activists repeatedly trying (and failing) to get a supermajority to override the rule and pass resolutions on the hottest issues of the day.  It's hard to fathom why local GOP leaders truly thought this rule was a good idea.  It will do nothing but drive a deeper wedge between establishment and tea party type grassroots activists.

The only answer that makes any sense is F.E.A.R.  The local GOP establishment seems to have fallen into the trap laid by fear - believing in the falsehoods that conflict equates to weakness, that anything but total unanimity of opinion leads to failure.  The reality will be just the opposite.

After what happened on Saturday, how do establishment Republicans expect to say with a straight face that all factions should support the eventual nominee for US Senate - their assumption of course being that the nominee will be Speaker Thom Tillis.  This rule change effectively says "we do not want to hear your opinion."  Passing it in the way it was done - without significant early notice - says "dirty pool" is Ok. 

With Mecklenburg having the 2nd largest number of Republicans in the state, this was a terribly risky maneuver by the MeckGOP to achieve effectively nothing of value. This rule plays right into the problem outlined in this piece nearly a year ago - making it much harder to repair any damage after the primary season is over.  If Republicans lose the US Senate race, regardless of who the nominee turns out to be, it will be actions like this that are to blame as much as anything else.

By comparison, at Monday night's WakeGOP convention leaders seemed more inclined to do the right thing in the face of a possibly less than favorable outcome for the establishment.  Wake is the largest GOP county in the state.  They did a straw poll (something the MeckGOP also avoided) and they let the chips fall where they may.

Here are the results: Brannon 45%, Tillis 33%, Harris 20%, all others 2%.

They were not overcome by F.E.A.R.


  1. Alienate the segment of the party that has the most energy in a non Presidential primary election. Motivate a grassroots organization developed because of a perception of increasing tyranny by imposing a sense of additional tyranny upon them. Count on them to fail and then count on them to support the GOP that has fought them the whole way. Good plan if you can pull it off.

  2. It will help if folks at Pundit House had their facts correct or perhaps choose to not misrepresent what actually happened at Saturday’s MeckGOP County Convention.

    Traditionally, and what has been the case for many years – is that resolutions brought before the convention have never carried any actual force or gained any impact whatsoever because they are not forwarded to the NCGOP State Party in order to be presented, voted, included or adopted at the state level. Without resolutions taken to, debated by and voted on at the state level – then resolutions or only for political theater & show.

    There have been many resolutions entered in the past that were either poorly written, or written for solely punitive purposes - designed by one internal opponent to embarrass or harm another internal opponent.

    There are those members of the convention who want and rightly believe that resolutions should not merely be for show – that they should be taken to the state level for serious consideration and adoption. Nearly every Resolutions Committee and its members for a few years now have also complained that resolutions being entered are not turned in with enough lead-time for the committee to intelligently discuss them and offer edits or amendments. Under the old rules, resolutions could be submitted as late as 30 minutes prior to the convening of the convention. As result – what has happened quite often in the past is those resolutions do not even make it to the County Convention Floor because the committee has not had time to review and discuss them.

    Under the new rules:

    Resolutions will be turned in at least one week in advance; allowing the committee time to meet, discuss, make suggested edits or changes and then communicate that back to the submitting party for further discussion – all days before the convention convenes.

    Any resolutions brought to the floor and approved by majority vote of the delegates will be immediately forward the NC State Convention to be debated on voted on in order to have actual and real impact state wide. (This is certainly better than just having them for political theater or show).

    If there is a resolution that is not forwarded to the floor by the committee – and members of the convention feel that it is crucially important that it does – they can call on the convention delegates to vote on an immediate suspension of the rules by a 2/3 vote of the delegates.

    None of these changes silences anyone. Any member of the convention can enter any resolutions they wish, and they can ultimately ask the convention delegates to suspend rules and allow full debate if there is some type of protest. Even more importantly, this will have the Resolutions Process begin to carry actual real meaning and impact – where; under the old rules, they have no real meaning or impact at all.

    Mr. Hine of Pundit House was present at the convention – he heard all that was discussed – but yet conveniently left these details out of his reporting. I think we can certainly argue that Mr. Hine is very biased.

    He closed his piece on Pundit house by writing… “It’s becoming more and more obvious that if you want to take an active role in the operation of government, you don’t want to join the Republican Party, you want to join the Tea Party. Our very focus is issue advocacy, something the local GOP just proved it cares little about.”

    Mr. Hines has now made it quite clear by his comments and actions – that he is not a Republican - that he is not interested in helping the party or working with the party – he is more interested in tearing the party down.

    1. Knowing that this post has made its way to MeckGOP HQ, I wonder if the above comment is some kind of "official" response. It's impossible to know since it's anonymous. Christian Hine is a big boy and can defend himself, so there's no need for me to do that here. However, I would like to point out a couple of flaws in the above line of reasoning.

      The HOT lanes resolution from last year provides an instructive example.

      It was submitted the morning of the 2013 Convention, and it did require some rewriting to get it slimmed down. The MeckGOP convention was in late March, and the Legislature had gone into session just at the end of January. That resolution urged legislators to look for other options than HOT lanes for widening I77. By doing it at that time it allowed legislators time to act if they had chosen to do so. Waiting until the NCGOP state convention in June to get something done would have eliminated that possibility. The resolution passed unanimously by voice vote – showing it had strong support. A similar plank was added to the NCGOP platform at the state convention.

      Now, let’s look at what would likely happen under the new rule.

      The resolution would have to be submitted a week in advance. Since it would not meet the standards for the new rule to be presented, it’s hard to see the Resolutions Committee spending the time needed before the convention to work on the wording. Why would they? That means there would still be a scramble to reword something at the convention. The early submission also allows time to gather opposition to prevent something from getting the 2/3 vote needed to suspend the rule. Knowing this HOT lanes resolution was unpopular with all the elected officials who support the project, that week provides enough time for the arm twisting required to prevent the resolution from even being heard on the convention floor. A 24hr lead-time should be enough – a week is too much.

      While admittedly, the new rule does still allow the possibility that pure issue based resolutions could get passed. It raises needless hurdles to doing so. If an issue based resolution zings elected officials who are taking the wrong stance according to the convention, then so be it. That kind of resolution should not be seen as being done “solely for punitive purposes”, it should be seen as direction from the party faithful to those who represent them.

    2. Dear Anonymous/D Monnig/Whoever you are:

      I’m not misrepresenting anything. You, however, are trying to spin yourself out of a negative situation by bringing up superfluous arguments.

      Given your second paragraph, it appears you have no interest in allowing the local party to take stands on issues. Certainly, some issues do have state impact and should be brought up to the state. This isn’t true across the board, however, and the new rules prohibit the local party from speaking for itself.

      If the resolutions have no weight, then that too is a failure of the party, not those trying to make statements.

      Nothing in this article suggests opposition to other rule changes that encourage resolutions being submitted in a timely manner.

      Funny that you seem worried about “controversial resolutions with no lead time”. You mean, sort of like what you just did with the rules changes?

      You know as well as I do that the resolutions at the NCGOP conventions are an afterthought. More often then not, the convention runs out of time before even hearing and debating them. The NCGOP has failed in taking resolutions seriously as well. At the state convention, rather than solid debate on issues, you get repeated quorum calls until finally most people just call it quits…at least those uninterested in debating issues.

      There is no misunderstanding, these rules changes prohibit the County Party from taking stands on issues. If all it can do is forward something to the state convention, hope it even gets heard, and then hope that the issue is even of interest to the statewide participants, then Mecklenburg County has truly given up its local voice. It’s a sad day.

      What you have done is mandate a supermajority before the local party can take a stand on anything. That’s wrong.

      As for “conveniently leaving out details”, I left nothing out that was relevant. I didn’t give a recap of the 30 some odd speeches we heard from candidates either, because it wasn’t relevant to the rules change at issue.

      I have been a Republican all my life, but as the GOP continues to destroy itself though actions such as this, don’t be surprised when you wake up one day, go to the GOP Convention, and find that you are the only person there.

      The Republican Party should be the leading voice for conservatives in our community. It should be commenting on local issues, encouraging activism, holding liberals accountable. But no. It doesn’t want to get its hands dirty. It doesn’t want to have a voice. It wants to pass the buck to the State Party and hope they will do something.

      That’s why I mentioned joining the Tea Party. At least we DO SOMETHING.

      This is not the way to create a movement. You’re only hurting yourself.

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