One of the great rock bands of all time asked a similar question several decades ago.
Sometimes, it can be tough to choose a path forward when you’ve been part of something for so long. Not many of us enjoy change. We get comfortable — even when our alleged cohorts are screwing us over at every turn. Leaving altogether, we sometimes find ourselves standing outside looking in the windows as the debauchery rages on. What’s the best way to go, when you are consistently being beaten down and cheated and mocked and dismissed and lied to by your alleged comrades and cohorts?
There’s one relatively recent example in North Carolina politics – The North Carolina Congressional Club. From 1973 to the early 90s, the Club provided an outlet for disenchanted, frustrated North Carolina conservatives to go. Just like today, liberal types were slamming doors within the state party structure.
Tom Ellis and Carter Wrenn got the ball rolling on The Club. It was initially set up to retire the campaign debt of newly-elected US senator Jesse Helms. Its focus grew to influencing the NCGOP and even running its own candidates — like John East – for US Senate. You had a bunch of registered Republicans working parallel to — and outside of — the state party apparatus to do the job the state party was supposed to be doing.
It’s long been said that history repeats itself. Liberal Rockefeller Republicans attempted to quash the rebellious Goldwater-inspired conservatives of the 60s. GOP liberals came after Reagan and his team in 1976 and 1980. They even ran congressman John Anderson as an independent in the 1980 race.
It’s amazing to me how much meaner and more hardcore liberal Republicans are to their conservative brethren than they are to folks in the other party.
It’s hard to argue that the conservatism championed by Helms and Reagan did not lead the GOP to its much more prosperous standing it has today. But, somehow, the GOPe boo-birds who attempted to thwart Helms and Reagan every step of the way are still in positions of influence.
Saying no to big government can be hard sometimes. Big government brings with it a lot of cash from people trying to buy influence with the keepers of the bureaucratic keys. All that cash being waved in your face can sometimes be hard to ignore.
During the recent NCGOP chairman travesty, hints appeared that some of the party’s larger donors are getting frustrated with its political-prostitution-over-principle posture. Some of these folks were actually talking about getting some meaningful reform done in the halls of government. If you can manage to divert even some of their contributions from the NCGOP’s pay-to-play money-laundering apparatus, a new parallel Club-like organization could become a real credible and competitive possibility. A parallel organization could likely draw a windfall of smaller contributions, too.
A new parallel organization could promote itself as a place to go for people who want to perform public service without having to become two-bit pay-to-play whores. Campaign on limited government, govern like you campaigned, and “The new Club” will take care of you. If the NCGOP is clearing the primary field for some vanilla, no-principle yes-man or -woman, the new group could find and fund a credible conservative candidate to crash the primary.
There’s the old saying about doing the definition of insanity being the performance of the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. Every year, conservatives complain about NCGOP HQ and the for-sale crowd on Jones Street. Every year, conservatives get by-passed for the illicit cash and stomped on at the state convention. The liberals have their own power base. Why not establish a new one for actual conservatives?
I’ll never forget the efforts of William F. Buckley and National Review in the 1988 US Senate race in Connecticut. At that time, The Nutmeg State was being represented by a fat blow-hard RINO named Lowell Weicker. Weicker positioned himself in the Senate to the left of Ted Kennedy, and regularly mocked President Reagan. Yet, the RNC and the GOP caucus kept funding him and his campaign. Buckley and his magazine organized BuckPAC — a committee designed to finally deal with the windbag Weicker. Some were arguing it was better to have a Republican in office than a Democrat. Buckley asked what was so good about having a Republican in office whose voting record was not much different than the average Democrat. With the help of conservative money and votes, Weicker went down and the man we now know as senator Joseph Lieberman departed for his first term in Washington. (In DC, Lieberman actually voted more conservatively than Weicker.)
Rs can do just as much damage as Ds. We’re seeing that in DC and Raleigh every day. Operating philosophies and principles matter. Conservatism — championing smaller government — brings political success AND economic prosperity.
Our Founding Fathers did not address the concepts of political parties when they got the ball rolling with this grand American Experiment. When parties arose, they were meant to be organizational entities — bringing together likeminded folks to pursue common goals. That has been perverted to our current situation — two power and money hungry fascist entities that are all about control and not much about actual public service.
Setting up a parallel Club-like operation is not killing off the NCGOP. It’s starving the cancer currently eating away at that organization. It’s giving a fighting chance to people who realize THIS is not what they signed up for. You’re not fighting from the outside. You’re planning, retooling, arming up, and then going to war INSIDE.
Think about it.