It Was About Sending A Message
By Kevin Rex Heine, Section News
"It's not about money ... it's about sending a message."
That quote is from "The Dark Knight," specifically, the Joker (played with disturbing perfection by Heath Ledger). Without going into a level of detail that will break the analogy, the point behind that line is that there are some people whose principles are not for sale, regardless of whether for good or ill. Those who subscribe to the all-too-common philosophy that everyone can be bought, the only question being one of price, don't have the clue before the first clue how to deal with people of principle.
That philosophical disconnect was on full and open display this past weekend at the Michigan Republican State Convention, and the elites in the establishment plainly didn't know what to do about it.
Before I go any further, let me make a point of defining a term that I'm going to be using rather frequently going forward, so that our regular readers will know what I mean when I use it:
liberty movement: referring collectively to a loosely-networked quasi-alliance of grassroots organizations, specifically including the Campaign for Liberty, the Republican Liberty Caucus, the Conservative Political Action Conference, and the tea party network (among others)
While the term "liberty coalition" is synonymous, I'm very selective about using it (so as to avoid confusion with a certain DC-based non-profit organization that connects politically diverse organizations and allegedly promotes trans-partisan policies related to civil liberties and basic human rights). And I'm referring to these grassroots organizations only to the extent that they're actually working together toward a common goal. I've also developed an aversion to pejoratively using the term "establishment" to describe the problem elements within the party, because that term is such a shifting target. (For example, had Sarah Ledford, the emeritus Youth Vice-Chair, succeeded in her bid to become the 11th District Chair, would that not by definition make her establishment?) I much prefer using the term "blueblood elites" to refer to the corrupted elements within the Republican Party that need to be purged, as it's so much more accurately descriptive.
Between Donation-Gate, Annex-Gate, Dele-Gate, Mortgage-Gate, and Convention-Gate (and those are just the ones I know about), there's good reason that Chairman Schostak's share of the whip count was already on a downward trend in advance of the County Conventions back on February 7th. The continuous pinging by Courser supporters on the B. S. Election Day record, the word-of-mouth support of several elected party leaders, the B. S. personal donation history to known Socialist-Democrats, and the details of the B. S. first-term record, over the next two weeks resulted in a considerable momentum surge by Todd Courser going in to the State Convention. A Purple State Research poll, published on the day of the convention by the Macomb Daily, had the State Chairman race at two points, and apparently had the old guard more than a little nervous about losing their grip on the levers of power.
The various district caucuses on Friday night produced a mixture of results, but by the time the dust had settled (the Second District finally adjourned, last, around 11:30 p.m.), the liberty movement had established at least a "critical mass" presence on all 14 district committees, including a majority presence on five of them (including snagging a couple of chairs, if I've been informed correctly), and had picked up a 40% to 45% presence on the State Committee. Add to this the fact that the liberty movement sits in fully one quarter of the county chairs, and I think that it can be fairly said that there's a tea-flavored seasoning to the state party apparatus that the old guard would be unwise to ignore.
On a very brief personal sidebar, due to a combination of miscommunication, sloppy planning, and perhaps even a betrayal, I was left twisting in the wind in my own quest for a district committee seat, coming up short by 38 votes. I was over it by the time I was sucking down hotel coffee on Saturday morning.
To describe the ovation for Todd Courser's nomination as thunderous is, I think, inadequate, but it'll do. The blueblood elites had tried everything in the book to prevent the liberty movement from taking the big hill, and the standing "o" made it clear that this was going to be exactly as close as the poll published the morning before was indicating. I arranged to vote early in the 2nd District, alerted the Courser whip crew to monitor all of the voting machines, and then made my way up to the stage in order to monitor the results as they were reported to the teller's table.
As I was patiently hand-transcribing the results from the teller's laptop, or from the tapes themselves when I could, several other observers from the tightly-contested races steadily gathered behind Cameron Pickford. To avoid getting in each others' way, we rotated over his shoulder so that we could all get our information without crowding. Well, except for Dennis Lennox, who insisted on worming his way up to the front whenever he damn well pleased, long enough to speak into his sleeve and slither away. More than once I was sorely tempted to hip-check his scrawny ass off the stage, and I suspect that I wasn't alone in that sentiment.
Since I was able to hand-transcribe the last three tapes from the table before Cameron had time to enter them into his laptop, I had time to retreat to the other on-stage table and do some very quick addition, so I knew before anyone else save God that Schostak had won. However, when I went over to the teller table to double-check my numbers, I noticed an error. The 11th District is large enough that they actually use two voting machines, and the teller's spreadsheet had only accounted for one. The other machine had enough votes outstanding that it could theoretically flip the outcome of the State Chair Election, so I promptly drew the attention of Hank Fuhs (MIGOP Party Secretary) to the matter.
Pickford noticed the second tape when he opened the district envelope, and then realized that he'd have to re-do the numbers for every race. At that point, Fuhs directed that the backup laptop be set up to audit the vote tapes. (That's one of the reasons that it took so long to get the run-off round of voting started.) The final audited raw vote totals and applied unit rule is available at the link.
Tim Bos does a really good job of describing what went down between the time the results were known and the time those results were made public, but there are a few details that I'd like to add. First, so far as I know, Bobby outspent Todd by about 10 to 1 to keep his chair, and used every advantage of incumbency to do it. That means that he likely spent party donor money, and used party staff and resources to pull this off. The new members of the State Committee need to keep this in mind when the bills come due. Second, both Matt Frendewey and some gal from the GoverNerd's office, whose name I don't remember right now, simultaneously engaged me trying to make the argument that we needed to present a united front in order to go forward. Their logic was that the MDP State Convention over in Detroit was turning into a fractious mess, and they wanted to be able to go to the press and say that we were unified; in their heads, the only way to do that was to have Todd withdraw his candidacy and move for a unanimous ballot.
My response to that was identical to the response they got from everyone else on the Courser Campaign . . . hell no. The vote totals needed to be known; it had to be on the record so that B. S. couldn't later say that he had unanimous support for his second-term agenda. Unity going forward is fine, but it has to be unity based on the truth. Like it or not, Schostak, Calley, and everyone else among the ranks of the blueblood elites is going to have to work with the liberty movement if they want to pick up some Republican wins going forward.
As I observed in a comment a few days back, Bobby Schostak, when he took the stage to deliver his acceptance speech, looked for the entire world like he'd just received the scare of his career. (I'll hold with my dying breath that that address was considerably toned down from the one he wanted to deliver.) Then, in a move reminiscent of Gerald Ford's gracious extension to Ronald Reagan at the 1976 Republican National Convention, Todd Courser was given the lectern for a few minutes to make some remarks:
And also reminiscent of Reagan's August 1976 remarks, there were delegates whom I overheard filing out of the Lansing Center's Main Exhibit Hall mumbling to themselves that they'd just voted for the wrong guy.
Now, earlier this week word reached me that not only is B. S. talking about re-hiring the deputy chairs from the previous cycle, once again sidelining the duly elected vice chairs, but also he's considering barring liberty movement folks from leadership positions and key committee assignments. This has core players in the liberty movement so ticked that they're already talking about a carefully coordinated mass resignation at the state, district, and county level. Press releases, press conferences, open letters to the editor, the whole nine yards; carefully synchronized to effectively force Chairman Schostak to call a new convention. Oh, and by the way, there's a certain constitutionally-conservative third party that's already offered a political home to anyone who actually walks away from the Michigan Republicans.
If Chairman Schostak wants to avoid that mass resignation, then there're some things that he has to do by this time next week:
There was a prediction made during this convention campaign that failing to change the Chair was going to cost the MIGOP upward of 35,000+ volunteer hours, the same volunteers whose efforts were squandered on Election Day last year. That wasn't a threat, but rather an observation based on years of grassroots experience. Given that the union-owned Michigan Democrat Party will be gunning for both chambers of the State Legislature, all four State Executive offices, every down-ticket race that they think they've got an even shot at, and repealing Public Act 348 of 2012 (formerly 2011 Senate Bill 0116), does Chairman Schostak really believe that alienating the liberty movement is a good idea?
The message of last weekend's convention is that the liberty movement is committed to cause first, and to a political party only to the extent that the party serves the purpose of the cause. Quite frankly, if Chairman Schostak and the rest of the blueblood elites remain unwilling to see the light, then the liberty movement will see to it that they feel the heat.
Acta non verba, Bobby, acta non verba.
It Was About Sending A Message | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden)
It Was About Sending A Message | 1 comment (1 topical, 0 hidden)
Related Links+ a certain DC-based non-profit organization
+ B. S. Election Day record
+ support of several elected party leaders
+ details of the B. S. first-term record
+ published on the day of the convention by the Macomb Daily
+ final audited raw vote totals and applied unit rule
+ really good job of describing
+ Reagan's August 1976 remarks
+ implement the Courser Strategy
+ Public Act 348 of 2012
+ 2011 Senate Bill 0116
+ Also by Kevin Rex Heine