Conservative activists within the Republican Party are outraged at the stealth attempt by the Republican National Committee to thwart their influence by rewriting the party rules. Over the last two election cycles, the Tea Party and other conservatives scored significant primary election victories against Establishment- backed candidates. Now the entrenched politicos within the Republican Party are seeking to halt grassroots conservatives in their struggle to gain further influence within the GOP.
Proposed Rule 12 grants party insiders the ability to change the rules with little outside interference. According to attorney Matt Dubin, a delegate from Washington state, “the proposed rules changes are designed to minimize the influence of grassroots conservatives within the party. Proposed Rule 12 is particularly disturbing because it allows the RNC to change any rule at any time without participation of the delegates. This is unprecedented in the history of the Republican Party and places all of the rules in jeopardy.”
Another proposed rule change would drastically alter how national delegates are chosen, transferring the delegate selection power in many states from activists to party insiders. Currently, each state enjoys the opportunity of determining the exact method in which delegates to the national convention are chosen. In many states, grassroots activists wield significant influence over the process. For instance, in the state of Washington, caucuses held across county precincts select precinct delegates who then attend county conventions. At these county conventions, approximately 1500 “state delegates” are selected to attend the state convention. At the state convention, the approximately 1500 state delegates select 40 people to serve as “national delegates”. These national delegates then move on to represent the state of Washington at the national convention.
Throughout the delegate selection process, conservatives are enabled to band together to select likeminded delegates from amongst themselves. After all, the role of national delegates extends far beyond merely choosing a presidential nominee. Delegates also assist in crafting the party platform and influencing the general direction of the party. As one working on behalf of the Santorum campaign in Washington state, I witnessed just how opposed the opposition of the Establishment is to grassroots conservatives selecting their own delegates. During one county convention, the moderate/liberal wing of the Washington State Republican Party attempted to commandeer the delegate selection process by misleading grassroots conservatives. Alex Hayes of the center-left Mainstream Republicans of Washington worked to stymie the efforts of grassroots conservatives to elect their own slate of delegates. The efforts by this center-left group to derail the grassroots efforts was captured on video. In the end, grassroots conservatives in three WA legislative districts successfully elected a slate of state delegates consisting almost entirely of grassroots conservatives.
The proposed power grab illustrates that the ability of conservative activists to influence the Republican Party agitates some within the Establishment. Imagine citizens taking over the Republican Party machinery who are motivated by ideas rather than power, who strive for principle rather than party, and who fly a banner of “bold colors” rather than “pale pastels”. While this may be an inspiring concept to grassroots conservatives, the idea disturbs some professional politicos.
Conservative delegates can have a significant impact on the Republican Party going forward. While the current leadership may be content with the status quo, grassroots conservative activists want to boldly advance economic freedom and individual liberty. We should stand united against these two proposed rules changes.