We’ve been here before – recently – how we respond will make a difference.
Since Christmas 2016, I’ve posted a grand total of three opinion pieces on this site, which is a very far cry from my usual pace; blame the weird hours of my current work schedule. The interesting thing about working “dawn patrol” is that I get to spend a great deal of time paying attention to my newsfeed. Many credible political pundits, whom I follow on that newsfeed, are referring to last week’s elections outcome as a “split decision” on a national scale. Fair enough. But here in the “Great Lake Effect State” (lots of snow on the ground last weekend), we’re armpit deep in something that isn’t snow.
The Michigan Republican Party seems to be the structurally weakest it’s been since the immediate aftermath of the Milliken Administration (circa 1983), a “rule of empathy” majority now holds the state’s Supreme Court, and an underinformed electorate has just enshrined systemic election fraud into the state’s constitution. Oh, and just in case it matters, the Libertarian Party of Michigan promptly lost their brand-new “major party” status, due to election underperformance. As with the other time something similar happened this century, the key question ought not so much be, “What happened?” as it ought to be, “What are we going to do about it?” . . . because that second question is the one that we must answer if we’re going to accomplish anything constructive going forward.
As badly as we need this done, do we care why he’s doing it, or even whether he gets the credit?
“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” (Winston Churchill, to his private secretary, Jock Colville, on June 21st, 1941, the evening before Operation Barbarossa)
Churchill was well known for being a consistent and vociferous opponent of communism, and had often spoken quite unfavorably about the Soviet Union, and particularly of Joseph Stalin (who was well-known even then as the brutal monster that honest history records). However, in seeking to stop the menace of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Churchill was willing to adopt an ad hoc “enemy of my enemy” approach, and initiated the Anglo-Soviet Agreement for joint action against Germany.
Given much of the recent hullabaloo regarding a badly-needed grassroots initiative having been likely co-opted, by a moderate opportunist apparently seeking a means to advance his political ambitions, and given that I have personally stood directly in the path of those ambitions at least twice in the past seven years, what I’m about to say is going to sound exceedingly strange, but I’m going to say it anyway.
Michigan republicans have a bad habit of making national news for all the wrong reasons.
According to Article IV, Section G, Paragraph 1 of the Bylaws of the Michigan Republican State Committee, “The Chairman shall have the power to declare vacant the seat of any officer who refuses to support the Republican nominee for any office within the State of Michigan.” That’s the language, and it’s straightforward. If you’re one of the officers specified in Article IV, Section A of those same bylaws, then you support the republican nominees, up and down the ticket, or else risk immediate termination . . . end of discussion.
That paragraph is something that a certain lady, whom I still consider a friend, should have considered before shooting her mouth off, knowing the cameras were rolling, last Friday.
Donald Trump isn’t the republican nominee, and Ted Cruz hasn’t been mathematically eliminated . . . yet.
At roughly noon on May 4th, after running fourth in a three-man race for seven consecutive weeks, John Kasich finally suspended his presidential nomination campaign (raising the obvious question of, “What the hell took so long?”), leaving Donald Trump as the “sole survivor” of what was originally an eighteen-candidate republican field. And, go figure, before Cinco de Mayo was in the books, various talking heads and keyboard pundits were acknowledging, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, that The Donald was now the presumptive republican nominee. However, to channel L. P. Berra, this campaign ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and despite a certain well-circulated AP report, a certain critical milestone hasn’t yet been tallied into Trump’s column, and so June 7th is still going to matter . . . very much.
Did the Michigan Republican Party pull another fast one with RNC delegate allocation?
Those of us who’ve been hanging around RightMichigan since prior to 2014 likely remember well the Michigan Dele-Gate Fiasco of 2012. As a quick refresher, on Tuesday, February 28th of that year, Mitt Romney defeated Rick Santorum in the statewide popular vote, 41.10% to 37.87%. However, because 28 of Michigan’s 30 post-penalty delegates were awarded on a district-by-district basis (Romney and Santorum splitting the state at 7 districts each), and because the statewide vote totals were so close (requiring the two at-large delegates to be split one each), the resulting 15-15 delegate tie didn’t exactly square with the RNC/GOPe’s preferred media narrative that Romney won his native state. Thus, in the telephonic equivalent of a late-night, backroom deal, the MIGOP Credentials Committee (then consisting of Bobby Schostak, Sharon Wise, Saul Anuzis, Holly Hughes, Bill Runco, Mike Cox, and Eric Doster) voted 4-2 – Hughes was not present at the meeting – to creatively interpret State Party Rule 19C, and award both at-large delegates to Romney. The resulting backlash fueled an eleven-week effort that culminated in a two-day Showdown in Motown, with the end result being the ballot box blowout ouster of the national committeeman regarded as the chief engineer of the ex post facto railroad job.
It’s probably not going to draw much attention (likely because damn near no one noticed), but the potential for a Grand Theft Delegate con job similar to the Michigan Dele-Gate Fiasco of 2012 was averted, largely due to one person explaining a key state party rule in a way that eliminated the possibility of applying that rule by political discretion, and instead imposed a resolution rubric according to plain mathematics.
To understand the Butterfly Effect, one must understand whence the butterfly came.
To say that the 2016 Republican Presidential Campaign has become interesting since June of last year is a bit of an understatement, to say the least. An out-of-the-blue “chaos injection” on June 16th (that FOX News polling saw coming as early as March 31st, but no one else picked up on until late May) became the nationally-recognized front runner not five weeks later, completely leapfrogging the “heir apparent” (who promptly went into a freefall, and has now exited the campaign). Because of this chaos injection, one candidate, who was until that point considered to be irrelevant, leapfrogged to become the national runner-up about five and a half weeks later (and was the national front-runner for three days in November), and two young guns are now openly tussling for second place nationally, neither of whom were supposed to have a realistic chance to begin with.
As should have been expected, the thorough derailing of the coronation train for the republican heir apparent makes the professional political establishment very unhappy, and, of course, they’re hell-bent on doing something about that. But the reason that all of their scrambling is increasingly ineffective is that they don’t seem to really understand the causa provocare of the outsider’s challenge, perhaps because they really don’t understand the degree to which the typical voter is disgusted with the political status quo in America, or why. Thus, predictably, the flailing increasingly exposes them for who they are and what they intend, which conversely makes the outsider’s job that much easier.
The current battle is to simply stop the inertia of decline, but we need to follow through.
“Don’t fight a battle if you don’t gain anything by winning.” There seems to be some dispute as to whether this was actually said by either General George Patton or Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, but everyone seems to agree that one of them said it. Whether we’re discussing a military battlefield or a political one, it’s pretty sound advice either way, often more commonly worded as, “be selective about the fights you pick.” A logical corollary of this maxim is that if you’re going to accomplish anything, then (a) you should have a realistic expectation of what can be accomplished, and (b) know why winning this particular battle will advance the larger goal. And, as any strategist or tactician worth the title will advise, the smart thing to do is to already have a plan for follow-up in place . . . because you’re going to need one should you actually win.
This is where Michigan’s constitutionalist insurgency has done a marvelous job of dropping the ball post-2010, and as a result now has a task that’s four times harder than it needed to be. The upside is that this fight is still winnable, if we stay focused on a realistic expectation of what we’ll actually accomplish by winning it.
Do we really want a third term for a Vice Chair who appears to be more interested in pandering than in outreach?
Since early 2014, there have been ever-escalating smear attacks against our national committeeman, Dave Agema, that have been as predictable as the calendar, in that they’ve occurred, if my memory serves me correctly, during the runup to every national or state committee meeting last year, as well as during the weeks immediately preceding the “fall” state convention (and are now occurring concurrent to the weeks preceding the “spring” state convention four weeks from now). The pattern is also predictable, in that either Ken Braun or Dennis Lennox (occasionally Kathy Hoekstra just for the sake of variety) will get wind (via one of their trolls) of a social media post on Agema’s Facebook page, will then cherry-pick some alleged “money quote” from the source article (or an article buried up to three links deep from that source) and then report that “money quote” as though Agema originally said it . . . and never-you-mind that they can’t be bothered to accurately report what he actually said with regard to why he found something post-worthy. The next step, again ridiculously predictable, is that the three amigos will then use their press credentials to publish opinion pieces, which allegedly-more-credible reporters will then use as source material for front-page “news” stories, which the usual suspects will then use to fuel a smear campaign of manufactured outrage, which the party’s useful idiots and low-information voter bloc will dutifully echo as an ever-increasing crescendo of calls for Agema to step down “for the good of the party.”
Fully detailing this pattern and the miscreants perpetuating it – which I intend to do – is a topic for another day soon. My purpose in mentioning it here is to merely highlight the hypocrisy of selective outrage within the party leadership, specifically in regard to a certain vice chair whose own conduct has been perhaps more offensive than that of the national committeeman for whose resignation she has recently called.
Young man, the plain language of the law is the plain language of the law, even when it works against you.
Regulars on either this site or the old one likely are sure to recall the Michigan Dele-Gate Fiasco. The quick synopsis, for the Johnny-come-latelies, is that, on the final night of February in 2012, the MIGOP Credentials Committee (at that time consisting of Bobby Schostak, Sharon Wise, Saul Anuzis, Holly Hughes, Eric Doster, Bill Runco, and Mike Cox) had the high-tech equivalent of a middle-of-the-night, smoke-filled-back-room meeting, and decided, by a 4-2 vote – Hughes didn’t get word of the meeting until after its conclusion – that the published and promulgated delegate allocation rules would be overridden, ex post facto, for no other purpose than to preserve the narrative of a “favorite son” presidential primary win. The resultant grassroots backlash culminated in the Showdown In Motown, where the alleged chief engineer of the fiasco, one Saul Anuzis, was convincingly replaced with Dave Agema (to the ongoing agony of Michigan Republican Progressives).
However, with now mere days before the MIGOP Policy Committee meets to rule on the affidavits of candidacy for the various 2015 State Convention candidates, we see a similar scenario playing out . . . with at least one familiar player in the mix.
Is the handwriting on the wall for the tea party movement in Michigan?
The saying “the handwriting is on the wall” has as its source an incident in 539 BC, recorded for posterity in Daniel 5, in which King Belshazzar of Babylon is plainly told that he has been weighed in the divine balance and found wanting, that the days of both his kingdom and his life have been numbered and brought to an end, and that his empire will be divided between the Medes and Persians then advancing on the city. The concept survives in modern English idiomology to imply that circumstances are such for a person or organization that it is now clear that their ultimate failure is to be expected, or at best will be effectively impossible to avert.
Given the thorough pasting that the constitutionalist insurgency endured in Michigan last month, as a statewide aggregate, it wasn’t exactly a leap for reporters and pundits (likely working from a coordinated set of talking points courtesy of the Michigan Republican Party old guard) to insert dramatic prophecies of impending doom for the tea party movement into their headlines and opinion pieces. David’s missive and Jason’s observation notwithstanding, I don’t think it unreasonable to ask the question: Given the significant events of last August, let alone the past 5-1/2 years, is the tea party movement on the verge of becoming just another footnote in Michigan political history?