Wednesday, May 29, 2024

OPINION: Grassroots politics

by BRENT REGAN/Common Sense
| January 13, 2023 1:00 AM

The Idaho State Republican Party Winter Meeting concluded successfully last weekend, much to the chagrin of the critics. Our new Madam Chairman, Dorothy Moon ran an efficient meeting despite challenges by some intent on derailing the proceedings.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting the critics of the Republican Party were shrieking about “plans” afoot in the party. The claims were full on crazy talk and either baseless or outright lies. According to these pundits, the Republican Party was about to strip voters of their voting rights, to banish women from the party, prohibit people from joining the party, shun young voters, and to pass a rule forcing people to wear white after Labor Day. OK I made up the last one…but you get the point.

As you may be aware, at the 2022 State Convention, the “grassroots” faction of the party overwhelmingly defeated the “establishment” faction for control of the party. This upset was seismic and left the establishment members dazed, some to the point where they just got up and left. Their ensuing rhetorical response was ludicrously hyperbolic, including accusations of a junta, a purge, far right extremism, the death of the GOP and other unsubstantiated lamentations. It was with this establishment foreshadowing that the winter meeting was convened.

The process for considering new rules or resolutions is well defined. Anyone can propose a new rule or resolution. It must then be debated and passed by majority vote by a county central or legislative district committee. At the subsequent state party meeting those proposals are considered by the standing Rules Committee and Resolution Committee. Each committee has 16 members. Two members from each of the seven regions are appointed by their respective region chairmen and the committee chairman and vice chairman are appointed by the state chairman.

The Rules and Resolution committees will consider, amend, pass or reject the proposed rule or resolution. Surviving rules and resolution are then presented to the general assembly for a final vote. At a minimum, any proposal must pass through three committees before being adopted. This is why it is so comical when low information talking heads “warn” about the dangers of a particular proposed rule or resolution well before it has been through this process. No one, not even the party chairman, can force a rule or resolution through the process.

What “horrors” were passed at the state meeting?

We passed a rule that restricted the party chairman from initiating litigation without the approval of the State Central Committee.

We passed a rule that required residency and registered voter status for State Party Executive Committee members.

We passed a rule that gave a clear path for someone aggrieved by a violation of the rules to seek a remedy and to appeal that remedy if insufficient.

We revised our system so that it would be fairer for the counties when making dues payments to the State Central Committee.

We also revised and updated our Electronic Meeting rule.

The proposed rule which garnered the most misinformation and fake news was a draft rule that passed out of the 2022 State Convention for consideration at this meeting. This rule dealt with Central Committee endorsements and the rules governing the eligibility to affiliating with the Republican Party.

One part of this rule amendment clarified and affirmed that members of central committees can exercise their freedom of political speech. This sounds obvious but there are many who would silence the speech of party members.

Another part concerned the eligibility to affiliate. Idaho courts have affirmed that political parties are private organizations with the right of association and can set their own rules for who qualifies as a member. In 2012 this allowed the Republican Party to close its nominating primary so that only affiliated Republicans could vote for the Republican nominee for the general election. Again, this seems obvious but there were many on the left that advocated for Democrats to affiliate as Republican to nominate the worst candidate and then change back for the general election.

To address this problem the rules have been amended to require those that are switching parties to affiliate by December 30 of the year before the primary election. This does not apply to newly qualified or unaffiliated electors or those moving here from out of state.

As for the resolutions, we passed a resolution opposing ranked choice voting; a resolution affirming support for legislation that would protect gender confused minors from procuring puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgeries, and a resolution to stop the practice of holding bills in the drawer by a committee’s chairman.

For those you that predicted, or perhaps wished for doom and gloom from some extreme agenda, you may be disappointed and you were definitely wrong.

The Idaho Republican Party’s new grassroots leadership is both competent and capable and absolutely working for the people. We can expect sound leadership moving forward.

It’s just common sense.

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Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.