Now before my fellow Republicans read the title of this article and begin chastising me for such a gross generalization, please read the article first and comment all you want in the comment section below.
It is hard to generalize about institutional laziness when the subject is about such a diverse group of people, many of whom I know personally and have worked alongside for years. It is especially hard to lump together people under this characterization when many are fellow activists, including Conservatives, Libertarians, and TEA Partiers. The activists that I know give blood, sweat, and tears for the Republican Party in Virginia and do it out of love and devotion to their Constitution, Country and State.
The laziness I am referring to is an integral part of the DNA of the organization as a whole and as such it is hard, but not impossible, to change.
In my consulting practice this symptom exhibited itself in many companies. Usually, institutional laziness manifests itself in internal policies and procedures being used as immutable laws, personalities becoming sacred and immune to change, poor productivity becomes the norm, and important changes being deferred or postponed indefinitely. This lazy DNA is developed unintentionally over a long period of time. It is evident to me in many ways such as the poor organizational infrastructure I observe at the Unit level.
Units are generally elected/staffed by well-intentioned people, but they are not trained in managing a volunteer organization such as a Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) Unit. I can make this observation from a survey of all Unit Chairs that was done when I managed an RPV project to select Voter Relationship Management Software. Sending out 130 plus surveys and receiving 25 back, Unit Chairs thinking that their convention delegate count was the Unit’s membership limit, not knowing who their Constitutional Officers were, several either did not have access to email or did not know how to reply and respond to the survey. These were just some of the observations made after the survey was completed.
Other examples of our corporate laziness include:
– It is easier to ignore volunteering to be Election Officers and/or Poll Watchers and to trust Democrats to follow election laws. (This is particularly interesting when elements in the Party favor primaries instead of conventions).
– It is easier to reject true precinct organization on a continuing annual basis and instead wait until a top level candidate asks for volunteers.
– It is easier to rely on political consultants to determine Party positions; resulting in campaigns that are content free so candidates are not held accountable to base voters.
Currently, there is a controversy within RPV causing divisiveness, where lines are drawn primarily between Establishment and Conservative wings in the Party. This division has manifested itself in the nomination processes of Conventions vs Primaries. Prior to the Conservative awakening, RPV’s rank and file was content to accept primaries, believing the cost avoidance excuse of letting the state (taxpayers) pay for the primary election.
Once the TEA Party movement started focusing on the apparent Uni-party results in Congress, where Republicans were performing as Democrat light, it was determined that a quick fix of making Republican elected officials govern like they campaigned was to force them into a convention. Conservatives had advantages in the Convention arena, less so during primaries. The exception to that was the Brat/Cantor primary where the incumbent was so out of touch with the base that a new political process was born, called being “Cantorized.”
Further analysis of the Primary process as currently practiced, using a combination of state law and Party Plan, proves that RPV has over time developed this lazy attitude of easy re-election of incumbents. Below shows an analysis of these incumbent protection laws and rules that must be changed, so Conservatives can accept primaries or conventions knowing that accountability trumps incumbency.
PROBLEM: Incumbents determine method of nomination (a primary) instead of each District Committee as stated in the Party Plan.
DISCUSSION: This law was challenged in court to no avail. The Party must have the votes in the General Assembly and support of the Governor to fix the Incumbent Protection Act. This might be a good question to ask each Republican candidate for Governor.
PROBLEM: By law, Virginia primaries are open primaries so any eligible voter can vote. Since Virginia does not have party registration any voter can vote in any Party’s primary.
DISCUSSION: Primaries are by definition an internal nomination process carried on by a private organization. It is only when we require the state to finance and run “our” primary does it place itself under state law. RPV is not any different than any other private organization and as such can conduct its own private nomination process, similar to a labor union, where only members in good standing can vote. Being an internal function of RPV, the Party can then determine who can vote. This will remove any advantage the incumbent has, if the candidate were to encourage his Democrat friends and family to vote in our primary. (BTW: Virginia would probably have to cancel the Open Primary law. I am also not talking about replacing that law with a Closed Primary law that includes Party Registration with the state. Primaries are private organization functions; we should decide our candidates, not the public. Party registration with the state does not mean anything, in Maryland a person can change their party affiliation every other day).
PROBLEM: Primaries allow incumbents to win with just a simple plurality of votes.
DISCUSSION: Pluralities allow incumbents to divide up voters for potential challengers and when coupled with open primaries and cross-over Democrat voters makes it an easy win for the incumbent. Unless a run-off is required to determine a true majority winner, our Republican nominee will continue to be a candidate with the majority of voters not wanting that person. Not a winning strategy. (BTW: Conservative egos are sometimes their own worst enemy, when we run multiple, good candidates against the incumbent).
PROBLEM: RPV has a limited view of its membership, which really exists only at the Unit level.
DISCUSSION: Currently, membership is maintained only at the Unit level. A state-wide organization should have in place an enterprise wide Membership Information System that would be available to the State Executive, District, Unit, Magisterial Districts when required, and at the Precinct levels. Identifying our base and harnessing its deep talent resources should not be a hit or miss exercise.
PROBLEM: The petition signing process favors incumbents.
DISCUSSION: The petition signature collection is a barrier for challengers to overcome that definitely favors incumbents. There should be a barrier, perhaps a higher filing fee paid to the Party since we don’t want 50 people throwing their hat into the ring because it would be fun to run. But signing petitions and not checking each signature for legitimacy is an exercise in futility and favors incumbents by utilizing prior petitions and constituents’ requests during time in office.
PROBLEM: Gerrymandered districts insure incumbent’s re-election for both Parties.
DISCUSSION: When Republican gerrymandered districts are coupled with open primaries, it makes sense that Democrats in those districts know that their best option is to cross-over and vote in the Republican Primary, usually voting for the most left leaning candidate. When the plurality “winner” then runs against a further left leaning Democrat in the General Election, Conservatives are left with the option of holding their nose and voting for the lessor left leaning Republican candidate. And we wonder what is wrong with the country and Congress. We do not have to tolerate gerrymandered districts. It is not allowed in Mexico, where districts are defined using mathematical models with no regard to party voting patterns. There are options here that do not include Democrats and Republican office holders’ horse trading precincts that will guarantee their re-election.
PROBLEM: Unlimited fundraising for state elections favor incumbents.
DISCUSSION: Assuming there is a limited amount of money available for state-wide campaigns, one of the best ways to keep RPV financially weak is to dry up donations during non-Federal Elections. Adding insult to injury, the next two problems complete the draining of available funds so RPV remains weak and financially unstable year after year. State Parties that have donation limits generally have no trouble having cash on hand to help candidates up and down the ballot. By placing minimal restrictions on donations such as individual and corporate limitations on the Caucuses and PACs as-well-as prompt transparent reporting of all donations, RPV would find itself financially stable and stronger.
PROBLEM: House and Senate Caucuses exist to re-elect incumbents regardless of voting record.
DISCUSSION: These two caucuses not only drain the coffers of special interest money, they are designed and exist only to re-elect incumbents and insure lock step voting on issues, and in fact one of their websites makes no bones about why they exist. There is no concern about voting record, governing like they campaigned, or adherence to the Republican Creed, just so we keep the incumbent in the General Assembly club house is all that is important.
PROBLEM: Dominion Leadership PAC provides resources to favored candidates.
DISCUSSION: And if the well isn’t dry enough already, we have the House Speaker’s PAC (Dominion Leadership PAC) that is designed to make the Speaker the “King Maker” for Virginia. It works like this, if you want to run for a house seat, only Republican Vacancies or Democrat occupied territory are considered and the Speaker thinks you have a reasonable chance to win, guess what, the cash rolls in. So if/when the election is successful, the new Delegate in not beholden to the voters that elected the candidate, allegiance and committee assignments are bought and paid for by the Speaker of the House of Delegates (Del. Bill Howell). This financial arrangement is not only successful with Delegates, but also down ballot candidates who are willing to play ball and be controlled by the Speaker as they climb the ladder of personal political success.
PROBLEM: RPV does not take positions on controversial issues, which makes it hard to hold office holders accountable.
DISCUSSION: We send our elected officials to Washington with no positions on major issues. Yes, we have the Republican Creed which is good as far as it goes. It is not granular enough to address specific issues that are important to Republicans, such as Common Core, Education Choice, Obamacare, Agenda21 (2030), Trade Agreements, Immigration, etc. Our elected officials need to know where the Party stands and that they will be held accountable to those positions when voting on legislation and not sell their vote to the lobbyist with the biggest checkbook.
PROBLEM: The focus is only on upper ballot elections; little to none support for lower ballot offices.
DISCUSSION: By focusing only on the upper ballot elections we are forsaking the farm team that will be our bench for new candidates. Incumbents know this and by not providing support to the down ballot candidates, they know that many potential competitors will become frustrated and drop out. This insures their re-election by forcing challengers to run for an upper ballot position with little or no experience in lower ballot elective offices. RPV has a long track record of “one and done” campaigns.
PROBLEM: The cozy relationship between District Leadership, especially the District Chair position, and the incumbent Congressional Representative is designed to serve the incumbent.
DISCUSSION: There should be an arm’s length relationship between the District Chair and the incumbent. The Committee is the nexus of accountability between the Congressional Representative and the voters. Hopefully we will see a decision between the District Committee and the incumbent where the Committee decides not to support the official’s re-election because the voting record of the incumbent is out of sync with the positions of the Party. It would not take many meetings, where the incumbent’s support is withdrawn, before behavior by the elected office holder would change. Accountability is a wonderful thing.
PROBLEM: District Committees are populated with the incumbent’s family and employees to insure control of the Committee.
DISCUSSION: This influence padding of the committee should not need any discussion. It is further proof of the laziness that infects RPV. The Party Plan should not allow this to occur.
PROBLEM: RPV kept small, inefficient, and under financed.
DISCUSSION: All of the above problems have the effect of keeping RPV a weak Political Party. This weakness is evidenced by consistently being under financed, membership limitations either real or imagined, and inefficiency by going to sleep after elections and waking up in September to repeat the same mistakes made in the prior election. We try and cram a year’s work into two or three months right before a General Election. There is a much better way to run the Party but it would require changing the way things work and accepting the fact the holding people accountable is not easy. (BTW: where in our history did the Party decide that having major internal elections of Party Chairman, State Central, District and Unit Chairs, etc. was a good idea during a Presidential Election year. Folks this practice is a really stupid idea and needs to be changed, quickly.)
Is it any wonder why we have such a dysfunctional Republican Party in Virginia? I have heard from respected friends of mine in other parts of the country that similar and worse problems are found in many other states. Until the grassroots realizes that the Republican Party has some serious problems that have evolved over a long period of time and develops the will to overcome the organizational inertia and laziness that prohibits changes we need in Virginia, nothing is going to improve. It makes little difference who runs RPV or if we continue to argue and fight over primaries or conventions. Institutional laziness is the root cause, not the superficial fight over the nomination process.
The Democrat Party has been on a long march for hegemony in America. For sixty – seventy years they have fought for every vote, legitimate or otherwise. They have also moved their agenda forward by any means available, including legislating from the judicial bench or padding the Federal bureaucracy with leftists to enact their agenda thru the bureaucratic state, our fourth and unconstitutional branch of government.
The Republican Party, both nationally and state-wide, must get their act together, recognize the inertia and laziness that infects us as a Party and adopt an activist agenda. They must fight for each vote and do whatever is necessary to save our Country and Constitution. This includes implementing changes to each organizational unit, including and involving the base membership and holding our elected officials accountable, whether they are nominated by a primary or convention, or both.
Before critics begin saying that this article is nothing more than an anti-incumbent screed, it is not. Yes it removes many of the artificial support systems that have built up over time making it easy on the Party and the incumbents. But my contention is that if incumbents are truly doing their job and adhering to Republican principals and the Party’s positions on major issues, the incumbents have all the advantages needed: an excellent voting record that represents their constituents, the voter base.
[…] we are in in Virginia and Fairfax. Almost all of them have been published at The Bull Elephant, here, here, here, and here. My thoughts on this are well known and for the most part I have received […]
[…] the changes needed by the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), and if interested you can go here, here, and here to read […]
[…] In a previous article, published originally at The Bull Elephant, entitled “Why is the Republican Party in Virginia Lazy”, I tried to determine what the Republican Party needs to change to become a strong, accountable political force in Virginia. You can read it here. […]
[…] month or so ago I wrote an article entitled “Why is the Republican Party in Virginia Lazy”, published here at The Bull Elephant. The article addresses the problems in Virginia where RPV […]
[…] Reagan George Originally published in The Bull Elephant on September 23; reposted with permission of the […]
I just don’t even know what to say except that its not as black and white as the author portrays. First District Committee Chairs
busted their humps the past month to cooperate and help one another in every possible way. When Suzanne Obenshain was able to get a huge sign and collateral order in at discounted prices, Gloucester GOP went out west and picked up huge orders for those committees that could not get there and helped deliver signs. That little committee is doing a simply amazing job with a Trump HQ payed for by selling signs to people and the demand is so high, they keep running out. My husband Jeff, the committee chair here in Caroline
spent the afternoon yesterday with Hanover Chairman GOP Russ Wright at a
half way point giving out the signs from the Trump campaign that Russ
obtained by renting a U-haul on his own dime to go to NOVA to get the sign order for all of us in the 7th and 1st who could not get there. We
are storing the signs in our barn for the units that could not pick up
until we can meet up. On Friday night, Jeff found the Trump campaign in
no mans land at the opening night of the State Fair, called the director and got the Fair to
bring a golf cart to move them to a premier spot by the main mansion so they
will be seen coming in the gate and also arranged for them to get signs
which they did not have. Jeff is out putting up 4x8s Trump and Wittman signs right now. In Caroline, we don’t feel so lazy.
This doesn’t apply to units and folks like you, but that’s the exception and not the rule.
Good read. The incompetence factor w/these people drives me crazy. The RPV needs to start from scratch.
Getting a group of people together to have coffee is too difficult for some. I witnessed ten people talk about doing it and in the end a date couldn’t be set because it was too hard to figure out where and when. Hint, you will never find a meeting date and time, or location that will please everyone. It ain’t rocket science.
Best article ever! Why don’t you and Lawrence Wood rewrite the party plan and fix this!
Actually, Reagan has. Ask him about it.
I would love to see THAT on TBE
A point missed what that primaries are a relatively new form of nominating candidates. For the entirety of the 20th century we nominated by convention.
The issue is NOT Primaries or Conventions. The issue is accountability of our elected officials and removing artificial crutches that have been created to make it easy to re-elect them without regard to their voting record. Re-electing people that have created our problems in America only insures that we will get more of the same in the future.
You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge and we have not yet acknowledged the problems you have outlined in your post. So there is no hope of fixing them.
Or replace them with people who will.
Do you have any rocks left in your bag? You missed throwing one at the rank and file membership. I find this post stunningly arrogant. You insulted and/or dismissed unit chairs, district chairs, the RPV, the General Assembly, and elected officials. All of those who have stepped up to the plate. Yet, checking your profile, I see that your involvement in the party itself is that of a member. If you find the lot of the leadership incompetent – then get.involved. Run for one of those positions, walk a mile in their shoes, and then come back and tell everyone how lazy they are.
It is not the fault of the Unit Chairs that they are not trained to manage a large volunteer group of people; it is not the fault of District Chairs that their role in RPV’s organizational structure has been compromised by Party rules and practices; it is not RPV’s fault that laws and practices have kept it financially and politically weak.
I guess you missed the part that this was a root cause analysis for institutional laziness. The current environment in RPV is to reward incumbency simply because the official has an “R” behind their name. I’m sure they work very hard in maintaining their incumbency and their personal political career ladder. Changing RPV into a strong, dynamic political party in Virginia is hard work and made even harder when the rank and file does not want the expend the energy to effect change.
Aaaaaand there’s the rock.
A rock yes, but for Phase I we are shifting from catapult to slingshot — we just need to better our aim.
How would the rank and file know how to do that without leadership?
We do have a lot of good leaders, but have not achieved critical mass.
But he’s right, I don’t think any of the good unit leadership will take offense, we all know something is broken, and I think that the system as it stands now dissuades actual reform.
The journey back from the brink will be even more painful then where we are now.
Problem; Republican Party jumps into bed with communist China. Strips America of 10’s of millions of jobs in order to eradicate our middle-class lifestyle. Republican Party also refuses to give up imported cheap labor from the south. This is all done with Wall St. cash and by special interest billionaires.
Discussion; Mr Trump doubles down by proposing tariff tax on Chinese imported junk. Proposes wall be built that stops Mexicans coming here illegally. A few words like Trump spoke, transformed the Republcan party overnite.
By writing a small prescription to cure what American needs to make it great again, Trump easily sent 16 other establishment political whores packing.
The whores will never leave of their own volition — more like an invasive insect pest, or a black mold — they have to be routed out!
There is a dismissive arrogance that attends the RPV leadership. During the 2013 state campaign, several of us developed highway campaign sign designs that we were going to pay for. We asked RPV to help us offer this project to other state units, so that we could place a combined order and reduce unit costs. RPV would not even return our calls. Consequently, we joined forces with four neighboring units, and ordered and installed the signs.
Last year I wrote a three page review of the state convention in Harrisonburg (with suggestions for future conventions) and sent it to John Whitbeck and John Findlay. There was no response … no acknowledgement of any kind. Perhaps their phones and email were not working. Maybe they just don’t have time for the “little people” out here who run the units. Or maybe they were feeling lazy.
Ask Jeanine to post it here — Whitbeck and Findlay do tend to be all over the place with these pesky elections.
This is a really good post. Thanks Reagan.
Indeed an excellent post. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/034a438155b16c6a5b4c9e33c1f28e45e02d2765a82313a2fe2b948872093314.png
We’ve been told the 10th district committee exists to elect, and now re-elect, Barbara Comstock. The committee does very little without first clearing it first with Comstock. The Chair and the Congresswoman are very close. The committee does what Comstock wants done and they don’t do anything she doesn’t want done. Comstock wanted a primary for life, the Chair made sure she got it. I thought it was supposed to work that way. I assumed that was how it’s done in all districts. Are there andy district committees that are responsive to voters?
The obvious but constantly denied downside to this wedding of a specific Republican regional elected representative to the party district apparatus, particularly in a purple district like the 10th, is IF Ms. Comstock is voted out of office in a volatile district race against a decent Democratic candidate so goes the status of the District. When party districts become fiefdoms managed and run by a narrow set of principles to retain a single candidate in public office any slight shift in the nature of the political tide and it’s all over until you can rebuilt and hopefully reincorporate the local voting base whose opinions and issues have largely been ignored internally.
The concept of party districts like grocery chains supplying a consistent variety of products depending on local buying preference with loads of choice is instead replaced with the ONE STOP – ONE PRODUCT election day drive through window, a take it or leave it decision. Tastes can change rather quickly in today’s political world (e.g. Donald Trump) and if your product and the organization it is optimized for goes out of favor you can almost surely count on your shop to be forced to hang a going out of business sign in it’s window, zero flexibility in product, zero chance of survival when tastes change.
The age of the fief lord is long dead and there is a clear reason for that fact – it didn’t socially or politically work for the peasants.
Not quite for life, as Babs is desperately trying to prove this cycle. Turns out that it may be most likely that, indeed, one can piss off enough of the base to get unelected. We are coming into a perfect storm in the 10th where the voters can overwhelmingly elect Trump yet ignore Barbara into oblivion.
The 10th doesn’t actually do anything — Babs likes it that way — keep the party units weak, the better for the incumbent ruling elders.
If Trump carries the 10th District as is within the range of possibility Comstock would seemingly become persona non grata politically locally as well as her hand managed district cronies. So what then? She goes to President Trump’s people and claims she was just another one of the misunderstood NeverTrump elected Republican officials that was confused by it all. Seems to me the hand writing would on the wall for her and any chance at effectiveness for her in the House.
If Stewart captures the governorship she will become an isolated, walking dead just standing around in the halls of the House waiting for a bright young candidate in the 10th to put her out of her misery. She has isolated herself on a political island and burned all egress bridges, not too smart an act for any professional politician to do knowingly. Money can’t buy your way out of everything as is becoming more and more clear in the modern political arena.
I’m waiting for her Cruz-like epiphany but frankly I believe she is too poor of a practicing politician to figure it out for herself. The Western part of her district was plastered by her yard election signs on her initial run this time around I’ve counted ONE. Not only is she not well liked but people have figured out she is NO Frank Wolf. If Trump wins the election and his organization begins a built out in Virginia she’s toast.
She figures she could never win a correctly drawn district so she votes like a short-termer job-shopping yet I don’t think she has anything juicy lined up with The Donald.
I can’t figure out why the dems keep putting up clowns against her… almost as if she serves some sort of purpose in the seat for them… hmmm??
Perhaps her voting record is good enough for them??
Or maybe I’m just too cynical and instead she’s just the kind of Republican the 10th deserves???
If you are the local Democratic establishment getting 70-80 percent vote carry out of an existing Republican office holder and you have a priority list, that fish is going nowhere and will always be in the barrel when higher priorities are taken care of. They have very little downside with her regarding budgetary and key vote legislation. Granted though it doesn’t explain the god awful candidates they keep putting up against her as you state. Puzzling.
I don’t know who you really are but I like you! Nailed it!
Jeanine, take a look at the exciting things happening in the Sixth District with Scott Sayer’s leadership.
You write: ” It is easier to ignore volunteering to be Election Officers and/or Poll
Watchers and to trust Democrats to follow election laws.”
I am a member of my county’s electoral board. Our board is comprised of two Democrats and one Republican. Our Officers of Election are a mixture of R, D, and I. We all work together to ensure the elections in our county are conducted strictly in accord with federal and state election law. We have NEVER had an instance of an OE attempting to do anything even close to illegal. Our OE are dedicated, serious volunteers and I am proud of every one of them.
The only time we have experienced an attempt by a partisan to influence our elections occurred about five years ago. A new Republican member was appointed to the electoral board. The chair of the county GOP met with him and told him to be certain only Republicans were appointed to be precinct chiefs. The new Republican board member told the county GOP chair to shove it up his ass. Which is exactly what you can do with your ignorant comment.
Take a deep breath. Reagan never said that you or anyone else allowed illegal activity to happen. I read his comment as purely an observation that if the repubs don’t have oversight, that all we can do is trust.
That’s not an incorrect statement or even marginally reason for your outrage.
In my work with the Virginia Voters Alliance, I always hear that voter fraud never happens in my county, but does occur in the counties that surround my county. Since I don’t know what county you are referring to It is hard to comment, but I can tell you that many of our more populous counties never have enough Republican volunteers for EOs or Poll Watchers.
Fairfax, where I live is between 300 to 500 EOs short. We have 240 precincts and most of them will not have Poll Watchers. Yes we have counties in Virginia that are well staffed and run by hard working Republicans, but in many areas the attitude is that working on Election Day at a polling place is too hard, so let the Democrats do it,
Anyway you are missing the point of the article if that is what provoked your response.
And he’s a democrat, so he’s got that against him.