First in a Series – Keeping Track of the Membership
Let’s assume we are members of a large Protestant Church, in the midst of making several important decisions, such as replacing their current minister, concerning the future of the Congregation. Since there are no rules against it, some in the membership decided it would be advantageous to invite members of other denominations and faiths to influence and vote in the important decision-making meeting.
So, in attendance for these most important decisions, are different protestant groups as-well-as Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and a few from the Wiccan fellowship camped out in the woods behind the church. Again, since there are no rules against it, all guests, by signing the guestbook and pledging, by crossing their heart and hoping to die, will be allowed to vote along with the regular membership.
Is there anyone in his or her right mind that would not have a problem with that scenario? I understand that we live in an inclusive, pluralistic, and politically correct society, but no one, except those with a destructive agenda, would think this is a good idea.
Well welcome to the Republican Party of Virginia; be sure to sign the guest book on the way in and sign your pledge so you can cast your vote. Nothing else is required of you. No allegiance to Republican principles. No accent to the Republican Creed. No devotion to Conservative principles that animates the party membership.
If this problem of allowing non-Republicans to determine our candidates is not dealt with and soon; I would be very comfortable predicting that it will cause the Republican Party of Virginia to lose its membership at an ever-increasing rate and will eventually become our century’s example of the Whig Party.
Let’s explore the political strategies at work here. I’m referring to this beautiful, all-inclusive attitude of allowing anyone with a pulse to vote in our primaries, conventions, and mass meetings.
First, let’s understand why incumbents would favor this kind of arrangement. By asking their Democrat friends to support them in Primaries, Conventions, or Mass Meetings, they can ensure that any challenger(s) will never be successful, especially when the incumbent just needs a plurality of votes (less than 50%) to win. Another way to say this is a majority of voters did not want the incumbent as their candidate. This discourages any challenger to consider dethroning the incumbent.
Second, it allows the incumbent to ignore their constituent’s wishes. The incumbent is thereby insulated from accountability to the voters that elected him. The officeholder can choose to vote contrary to the wishes of the Republican electorate with no consequence. Combine that with heavily Gerrymandered districts, the incumbent, once the threat of a challenge recedes, is guaranteed re-election because the opposition in the General Election is by design, a minority.
Finally, keeping RPV in the dark about their membership directly plays into the Establishment’s game plan. A weak RPV allows for certain self-serving politicians to maintain their power and control. Sometimes I think that the Republican Establishment would prefer to control a losing, dead party than to share control with a revitalized party.
Why does the party allow elected officials such as the Speaker and Governor to have their own PACs? It’s elementary; they can determine who runs for office and provide critical funding and support to the money starved candidate. When the candidate is elected, guess to whom the elected official is beholden? It is not the electorate.
So how do we fix this? The mechanics of the fix are fairly easy. Good membership management software is available over the Internet for a reasonable price; especially with a potential membership base of 2 to 2.5 million. Currently, Fairfax County Republican Committee (FCRC) has converted a myriad of spreadsheets into a non-profit oriented, cloud-based Customer Relationship Management System (CRMS) This system allows FCRC to manage our membership, donors, volunteers, and events via a centralized database system.
Having the courage and will on the part of the State Central Committee (SCC) to make significant changes to the status quo, is hard. It does not require a new law by the General Assembly and Governor; it does take the political will of the Party, mainly the State Central Committee, to decide that it is important to determine actual Republican Party membership on a statewide basis.
Once implemented, all party functions will require photo identification and membership in good standing. Primaries, conventions, and mass meetings are private Party functions and membership in the Party should be required to attend and participate. Look at labor unions as a model for membership tracking efficiency. No one votes in union elections unless you are a union member and they do require photo identification in order to vote.
Most of the available information is maintained at the unit level already. RPV may find that Party membership will increase because membership will actually mean something. Having the privilege to vote without having to compete with non-members from off the street is worth a lot.
A well maintained and effective statewide membership list will provide a measurable dimension to RPV’s continuing success. By that I mean, is RPV growing or contracting in their membership? Today who knows? Elections are very imprecise ways to measure membership. Get out the vote (GOTV) is an important measure of success in an election. All we have today is the term probable “Republican Voter”, a very inaccurate way to measure membership, much less GOTV.
By comparing our membership list to the voter history records maintained by the State Board of Elections, it would be easy to measure our GOTV success, as-well-as, how well we are doing in GOTV among other non-members, minorities, and newly registered outreach efforts.
Party membership registration and tracking are not a panacea but it would go a long way in improving the efficacy of our nomination process and stop aggravating the Party’s base voters to the point of leaving. Incumbents and their minions will not be happy since their self-preservation strategies will be much less effective and they will become much more accountable to the Republican electorate; always a good thing.
In this day and age with inexpensive and easy to use technology it is nothing but benign neglect for RPV leadership, including SCC, to not have an infrastructure that would support a state political party. Managing membership, donors, volunteers, and events is basic to success. The data in such a system would be available not only to RPV Leadership but Congressional Districts and Local Units statewide.
By not making these changes and implementing an elementary solution, RPV is sending a message, loud and clear. The base be damned, we don’t need you. We are very comfortable being a personality, candidate, and political consultant driven Party, always weak, starved for money, and losing elections, after all, we no longer care about winning only looking good when we lose.
This is the first in a series of articles addressing the improving and revitalizing RPV. I have written other articles dealing with the need for RPV to change that was published here in the Bull Elephant. You can read them by searching for “Why is the Republican Party in Virginia so Lazy” and “Republicans Winning is the Point”.
I am also using this article to announce my candidacy to run for State Central Committee from the 10th Congressional District.