Monday, March 30, 2009

The Way Things Are

I should probably explain the recent hiatus from the blog.

Oh, not that there aren't still topics and news and goings-on that are worth talking and writing and fighting about. Obviously there are. And as I can, I will post on here. But, especially after the State Convention next month, my posting here will be dropping dramatically.

The truth is I have other, larger projects going on that are going to require my attention. By larger I mean something longer than the typical 1-2 page post I put on here.

So, as I get to it, I will be posting. Otherwise, I am focusing my energies elsewhere.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Don't Caucus Me, Bro!

The word “revolution” has been used to describe many beneficial or life changing events in history and right now it is being thrown around again. There are several within the Oklahoma Republican Party who are looking for another “revolution."

What many people don’t seem to realize is this: we already had an American Revolution. We had it on November 4, 2008. Our founders wisely put in place a system of government specifically designed to create the perfect set of circumstances for a bloodless revolution and transfer of governmental authority between opposing ideologies every two to four years. But that’s not the kind revolution these people are talking about.

There is a faction in the Oklahoma Republican Party, many of them people who went out last week and shook tea bags protesting that their voices weren’t heard, who are now trying to take away the voices of their neighbors. Ironic, no?

We’ve got a group among us who are so embittered by the results of the democratic process they would make Che proud. “We didn’t like the way this whole voting thing turned out. Here’s an easy solution: no more voting!”

Their reasoning? Primaries don’t elect the right candidates. Translation: we didn’t like how you chose so we’ve decided you don’t get a choice anymore.

Full disclosure - I didn't support McCain in the primary. For that matter, no one I know did. My guy didn't even come in second. And yet, I don't have a problem doing this whole "letting the people have a fair say" thing again, knowing that the potential for my candidate to lose still exists.

It’s like whenever USC or Texas or Florida doesn’t get invited to the National Championship, suddenly we have to abolish the BCS. It’s biased! It’s corrupt! Forget that it’s all based off of statistics and numbers, there’s favoritism being shown, I tell ya! And yet when they do get to go, well what do you know, this BCS thing isn’t so bad after all, and we’ll just let it slide one more year.

By the way, if you ever needed a proof-positive argument that we don’t need to abolish the BCS, here it is: Obama wants us to.

The main arguments for the caucus system, or as I like to call it, the Abolishment of the People’s Right to Vote, are mainly as follows.

1) It will encourage more honest elections

This one will take some time, but it needs to be dealt with first for the subsequent points to make sense.

In the utopian vision of an Oklahoma caucus they are presenting, it all starts in the neighborhoods. Some precinct chairman calls a meeting and invites his or her neighbors, through door-knocking or flyering or what have you. They meet in his living room and decide they are all like-minded, well-intentioned individuals who largely want to achieve the same goals, even though they may disagree on some minutia. They all then sign up to be delegates to their county convention.

Then they go to their county convention, meet more like-minded, well-intentioned individuals who largely want to achieve the same goals, and sign up to be delegates to their district convention.

At the district convention, they meet even more like-minded, well-intentioned individuals who largely want to achieve the same goals, and sign up to be delegates to the state convention.

At the state convention, they participate in a caucus as unbound delegates to elect the primary candidate for the state of Oklahoma. Everyone gets to vote for whoever they want to vote for, and at the end, no matter who wins, we’ll all join hands and sing the friendship song as we proclaim that, even if our choice for candidate lost, the best choice was made.

Did you see what happened? Unless you made it to every single meeting, you do not get to vote on who Oklahoma elects as our primary candidate. If you miss just one of these events, you have a limited amount of time in order to appeal to a board for approval to be a delegate at the next highest level. And there’s no guarantee you will be approved.

Now, in a world where the sky is blue, here’s what will happen.

We go back to the precinct chairman. He’s obviously not a dispassionate person. And he knows already who he wants to be Oklahoma’s primary candidate. So he goes door to door and visits with his neighbors and figures out which ones support his candidate and which ones do not. Then he goes home and decides the date of the precinct meeting, and guess who he conveniently forgets to invite?

Now, the objection will be raised, but those other people, they can go before the credentials committee after the fact, they can come and appeal to be a delegate, they can work around the system, it’s a built-in fix just for that.

But how will they know about that option unless their precinct chairman or some other official tells them? And even if one or two people who support another candidate does get in after all, how would that stand in proportion to a stacked deck? Because you can be sure this wouldn’t be happening in just one precinct.

Of course, those committee members are volunteers from the initial precinct meetings. And, again, there’s no guarantee your petition will be approved.

Right now, I want you to picture a person involved in the local party that you do not trust. I know it’s hard to just pick one, but for the sake of the illustration, make an effort. Can you honestly say that you know that they would have less control over the primary outcome under this caucus system than they would under a straight voting primary system?

2) It will bring people into the party.

I’m surprised anyone can say this with a straight face. Yeah, nothing encourages involvement like taking away people’s voices.

What they mean when they say this is not that it will bring people into the party in general. They mean they will have the opportunity to stack the party with more of their people, people they can control, and quash the rest of us. That’s the “more people” they are talking about bringing in. See answer #1.

3) It will elect better candidates

You can fill in the blank with whatever “better” is supposed to mean. The word “better” will be defined by the group we described under answer #1.

They have also thrown around the justification that it will help implement real campaign finance reform by ensuring that state funds don’t go to primary candidates and people will have to pay for their own campaigns.

Actually, we already have a procedure for implementing that. It’s called "legislation," and it’s pretty similar to that voting thing, so my guess is they’re against that, too.

Really, it all goes back to #1. None of these other issues matter as long as the threat of absolute control by one small group remains.

And now we see the real “revolution” they are talking about: the French Revolution, where it’s us vs. them, a fight to the death, and off with the heads (or, more accurately, expulsion from the party) of the losers, no exceptions, no inclusion, no cooperation.

How do I know? Because of this exact proposition.

They want to cut our heads off. They want to take away our voice in our own primary. They want to take our vote away because they are afraid of us. And ultimately, they want us to leave the party and let them do whatever they want to do unopposed and unchecked.

Just because you don’t like the way an election turned out doesn’t mean the problem is with the election process. Just because your team didn’t go to the BCS championship doesn’t mean the problem is with the BCS. Your team had a bad season. Be an adult, suck it up and try again next year.

Make no mistake – this is a deliberate attempt to silence voices opposing a specific political figure or agenda. The only way to prevent this is to preserve the right of the people to vote, whether it be in a primary or a general election.

Come to the county convention and help us stop this disastrous un-American proposal and keep our right to vote by standing up to remove this resolution from the county platform. Your vote depends on it.

For more on this issue, also see: