Yes, I know it's shocking, but I occasionally feel the need to go on a rampage about political events. The life of a grassroots political activist is full of frustrations, obviously. The bad part is when we identify problems and offer solutions, and are totally ignored. Even worse is when everything we do to try to support good candidates is countered by an establishment mindset, afraid of change and afraid of losing power.
Let's start here: THIS appeared on Big Jolly Politics this week. In it, Ed Hubbard talks about the way the Harris County Republican Party has continued its slide into ineffectiveness. The latest? It seems the local party, unable to finance the required District conventions, will
Think low-budget, grassroots candidates can afford that? Not easily. So, keep those candidates without huge money interests behind them from being able to talk to voters at the convention. Pay for the convention with money from candidates. Kill two birds with one stone.
Here's Ed in his own words:
I am going to be very blunt in what I am about to say—very few activists or primary voters have any real say in who wins most, if not all, of our local GOP primary races any more. In large part, you have no say because there is no functioning party organization in Harris County to provide a level playing field for our primaries. In fact, over the last 10-15 years, our local party apparatus has been gutted. And it has been gutted on purpose.
What Ed touches on in his piece is the way the party has largely become completely ineffectual:
- Charging candidates to pay for the convention, keeping the office open, paying staff
- Failing to recruit precinct chairs
- Allowing an endorsement racket to operate in county politics, effectively allowing three men to decide who will win primary races
If you're not sure you follow all that, just ask yourself this - what is a political party supposed to do? What is its function?
My guess is that your answer (regarding HCRP) would be something like "get good people elected" or "elect conservatives" or "show some leadership on the issues" or "fight for conservative causes."
But Ed's point is that the HCRP has set all that aside, and instead focused on empowering and enriching a small number of people connected with the current chair and the prior one. Ed starts making that case in his post where he documents how much income one former chair has made in appointments by judges he helped elect.
Stunning, really, how all this goes on. And frustrating how few people know what is happening.
I have to say, too, that Ed Hubbard and I first met right after the 2008 election, when he showed me just how horribly Republicans did in Harris County. That was before there was a tea party, before there was a strong grassroots activist network, before I knew what was happening. And truthfully, I still don't know after four years all the players, what they do, how they're related. But I've seen the results.
In response to the party's lackluster involvement, in 2009 and 2010, Houston Tea Party Society ran precinct chair and convention training all over the county, and in many parts of the state as well. When the precinct chair filing deadline ended, HCRP had a large number of new filers, new people running for precinct chair. Sadly, at the same time, a huge number of existing precinct chairs did not refile, so the number of precincts with chairs has remained right around 50%. Imagine what would have happened had HTPS NOT recruited over 100 new activists!
The point there is HTPS and other tea party groups and liberty activists should not have to be fulfilling party functions. We shouldn't have to teach people how to get involved - HCRP should. We shouldn't have to teach people how the convention process works - HCRP should. We shouldn't have to recruit people to join the party system and work for conservative candidates - HCRP should. We shouldn't have to teach people how to use social media to engage people politically - HCRP should. So is it any wonder that my motto has been "Doing the Jobs Republicans Won't Do"?
Which brings up this: the people most afraid of tea party success are not necessarily on the left. And now you know why. When tea party people see something wrong in the GOP and say something about it, the GOP hates that. Republican establishment thought that the tea party would be the burst of energy, the Ground Team for the GOP. Then, when the tea parties started offering venues to challengers, or criticizing the leadership, the GOP realized that tea parties may not have been the easy allies they were looking for.
In the weeks ahead, I'll be linking here all kinds of research that will prove that the HCRP isn't fulfilling its proper functions, and connect the dots for people. It won't be light reading. Read it anyway. Either you learn what's going on, or you forfeit the right to complain about how "the Republican leadership sucks."