The news this past week, nationally, was about the manner in which the Republican Establishment has gone out of its way to steamroll its grassroots rank-and-file in Mississippi. As many know, it’s not just a problem in the Magnolia State; it’s happening everywhere.
In my home state, first-in-the-nation caucus state Iowa, the Establishment has turned trashing its rank-and-file into a spectator sport.
Last weekend, the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee – just installed two weeks ago at the party’s state convention – unseated its chairman, Danny Carroll. Danny was the first evangelical Christian to hold the post in my lifetime, and perhaps ever in the history of the RPI, as was the manner in which he was ousted, which was seemingly in violation of the party’s bylaws.
Some have suggested this was a revenge move by the party establishment, which was still fuming from the Ron Paul/Liberty takeover in 2012. After talking with a large flock of birdies, I’m not so sure that was necessarily the reason for Carroll’s ouster. For starters, while Danny was brought into a leadership position by a RP/Liberty dominated State Central Committee, he was not a “liberty guy.” He was a standup guy who had the respect and support of many Republicans from top to bottom in the party hierarchy.
So, I’m going to play a little game of “I believe,” made popular by Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy of “Blue Collar Comedy” fame. Unfortunately, my version isn’t going to be all that funny to most of you.
I believe … the Republican Party of Iowa establishment, led by Gov. Terry Branstad and his followers, is more interested in money and power than in representing the interests of conservatives. The party leadership has consistently set party principles aside to become a “big tent” party.
I believe … the RPI establishment and Gov. Branstad’s campaign conspired as early as late 2012 to regain control of the State Central Committee for the purpose of consolidating both money and power. In politics, power is everything, and in Iowa politics, money is power.
I believe … that conspiracy included the use of new rules and delegate slates to gain district and state conventions that would be friendly to the establishment’s power grab. Those rules and slates were sold to the rank and file as a gesture of thanks to hardworking volunteers and big-money individual donors.
I believe … the issue of whether or not to increase the gas tax was the most divisive for many in the party; leaders wanted the increase, while the rank and file was opposed to it. Former RPI chairman AJ Spiker’s public opposition created a unique point of contention between the governor and the party.
I believe … some big-time donors to Republican candidates withheld donations because of the party’s official opposition to the gas tax increase. If you look at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation PAC’s donations so far this cycle, you will see they are a mere fraction of the donations given out in previous years (FEC Committee ID C00200329).
I believe … now that the RPI has removed the platform plank in opposition to the gas tax increase, you will see those donors open up their checkbooks again. But, there are many candidates who are running on fumes financially.
I believe … Gov. Branstad plans to use his campaign war chest to pick and choose which candidates to support, and the degree to which they are supported, by funneling money through the RPI. The legality of this is borderline, at best, but wasn’t uncommon in the past.
I believe … Danny Carroll would not have allowed illegal activity to take place on his watch if he was still RPI Chairman. The RPI establishment and Branstad campaign folks conspired to have him removed so they could install a new chairman who would be more of a yes man.
I believe … as a result of these shenanigans, the RPI will lose out in the end. Even more rank-and-file members – particularly Christians and those who align themselves politically with the Tea Party or RP/Liberty folks – will flee the party.
I believe … some of us are going to stick out for one of two reasons: 1) to watch it burn to the ground, or 2) to fight back against the playground bully that is the RPI establishment. I’ll be among this group, but I’m still trying to figure out my reasoning.
And finally, I believe … many will choose not to believe any of this, because they’ve been drinking the establishment Kool-Aid for so long they wouldn’t know reality if it bit them in the posterior. But, after what happened in Mississippi, there’s always hope the blinders could come off.
Because, at the end of the day, I have to believe you’re smarter than that.