To Restore Discipline
By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
The noun decimation, as it is currently used, refers to something causing either great destruction or harm, or a drastic or extreme reduction in population numbers. However, the source verb, decimate, originates from the Latin decimare (removal of a tenth), which in the Roman Legions was a common form of punishment meted out upon mutinous or cowardly soldiers. Those selected for punishment would be divided into groups of ten, and the soldier in each group upon whom the lot fell would be summarily executed on the spot. The message to the remaining nine was clear: get your asses back in line, or join him.
I'm not sure if it's mutineers or cowards that we're dealing with here (or maybe just a highly contagious epidemic of either weak upper spine syndrome or cranial-rectal inversion disorder), but no matter how you slice it, some high-velocity shoe polishing seems to be in order.
There is a reason that members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the State House of Representatives, and even the County Board of Commissioners have to stand for re-election every other year. These are the peoples' houses, and by design, the legislators have to answer for their conduct on a frequent enough basis that the sheer frequency of the election cycle should serve as reminder of that basic fact. Even though we here in Michigan have the option of directly recalling our legislators, unless the conduct of the representative in question is just that putrid, it's much more cost-effective to remove a squishy incumbent via a primary challenge (or a general challenge, in the case of an incumbent not of one's party-of-preference).
The Senate is a horse of a whole different color. By design, the term of a senator (whether state or federal) is longer. This, at least nominally, reflects the founding intent that the senate is supposed to be a more deliberative and stable legislative body, as specifically opposed to the House (which, because the entire House must stand for reelection every two years, is more vulnerable to the whims of public opinion).
Even though the 17th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution did away with a critical balance to the U. S. House (the Senate being designed to represent the interests of the several states), the fact that only one-third of the seats are up for election in any given cycle, coupled with a six-year term length, still provides a theoretical stability that counter-balances the theoretical instability of the House of Representatives.
However, in the case of the Michigan State Senate, because all 38 senators must simultaneously stand for reelection every fourth year, and because of unnecessarily restrictive term limits, we have a legislative chamber that is far more vulnerable to public sentiment than it ought to be. This creates a problem when a group of senators, who were elected because of the expectation that they would embrace a policy agenda that is wholly different from the one that they currently seem to be advancing, really need to be dealt with by measures somewhat stronger than political paper training.
In other words, what seems to be happening here is that several republican state senators have "wandered off the reservation" when it comes to advancing the cause of liberty, state sovereignty, and the protection of property rights. And the Michigan Tea Party Patriot Network is trying to figure out what to do about this. Something ought to be done to send a message to the caucus that democrat-lite behavior will not be tolerated, and the sense I've gathered is that, by targeting and strongly dealing with just a few true stinkers, the rest will get the message.
The general opinion that I've heard through backchannel communications within that network is that no fewer than three state senators (approximately one-tenth of the 26-member republican caucus) ought to be subjected to a tea-party-driven recall campaign. Opinions vary as to precisely which three ought to be targeted, but the names that keep floating to the top of the list are this one, this one, these two, and of course this one (who I'm told, oddly enough, happens to be the first guy's nephew). However, when it comes to an actual recall campaign spearheaded by a tea party group . . . well, there doesn't seem to be one just yet.
But for the past six weeks or so, I've been hearing about something else, something potentially far more devastating than a successful recall campaign designed to send a message. It's one of those things that're so sensitive that I don't dare report on it without at least one source (and preferably two or three) who's willing to go on the record to confirm it. So that's what I've been doing with some of my time since the Mackinac Conference, and it's been a bit of a challenge.
The challenge has been that, while so many people seem to know about it, for one reason or another, no one wants to talk about what they know unless they do so off the record. And I get it, because this has the potential to get really ugly really quickly, so no one with any sense wants to get caught in the "spray area" when the you-know-what hits the fan.
However, earlier this weekend I spoke with Tony DeMott (Campaign For Liberty - Michigan) and Dennis Moore (Willow Run Tea Party Caucus). Both confirmed, on the record, that they are aware of a number of very influential grassroots leaders (including tea party leaders) statewide who are currently discussing the possibility and the mechanics of removing Randy Richardville from his leadership position. This is primarily as a consequence of his opposition to full, statewide freedom-to-work, as well as a history of votes that appear to be advancing a big government agenda.
Now this isn't merely a recall campaign, though both Moore and Al Bain (Monroe County GOP) have confirmed that they are aware of a recall campaign that will start after the turn of the year, which will have several tea party groups providing the ground crew. No, what DeMott and Moore are talking about (among several tea party leaders statewide) is something arguably even more damaging, career-wise, than a recall.
The Republican Senate Caucus of the 96th Michigan Legislature consists of 26 state senators, exactly enough for a numerical 2/3 super-majority. A mere 14 members of that caucus (the bare minimum for a simple in-caucus majority), if they were to operate in concert, could summarily remove Senator Richardville from his leadership post through the mechanism of a no-confidence vote. If we are to believe the off-the-record conversations amongst the various organizational leaders within the Michigan Tea Party Patriot Network, then there are no fewer than 18 such senators who would support that move, and vote in the affirmative. All they need is one of their number to be willing to step up and call for that vote.
A no-confidence vote would immediately remove Richardville from his post as Senate Majority Leader, and the republican caucus would then have to convene and elect a new majority leader. I have no word on whom is being considered as a replacement. The advice, I'm told, from the tea party leadership to the senators considering this no-confidence vote is to act quickly. The recall campaign that is now being organized in the 17th Senate District is going to happen regardless, with or without the vote, and to have Senator Richardville in a leadership post while awaiting a recall vote would not be a good thing.
I say that this is arguably more devastating to Richardville's career because, should this actually happen, he would be forced to serve out the remainder of his final term in the state senate with every single one of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle knowing that he's now no more formidable than any other paper tiger. Of course, if the no-confidence vote is followed by the successful execution of the recall campaign, then the combined two-step removal may serve to end his career in a permanent stain of political, professional, and personal disgrace.
And if that doesn't send a very clear tea-party-driven message to the rest of the big-government progressives on the republican side of the senate aisle, then I don't know what will.
To Restore Discipline | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden)
To Restore Discipline | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden)