“A camel is a racehorse designed by a committee.” — Anonymous
I’m disappointed and concerned about what I have observed, so far, in the campaigning for the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) leadership and the promotion of the Party Plan amendments. First, some background that might explain my perspective.
In about one year’s time, I went from not knowing our city had a Republican group to becoming its chairman. I didn’t aspire to it and resisted taking the position. But there was a sudden void and Donald Trump had just come down the escalator. So, I dove in.
It took me a couple of years to figure out what the State Central Committee (SCC) was. Why? It didn’t seem to impact my job beyond providing some arbitrary (sometimes unnecessary) rules (Party Plan) I had to follow. Those I met who were on “State Central” seemed to be proud of that. I wasn’t sure why.
RPV meant very little to me. I had no experience working ‘under’ a well-functioning state body. I could not relate to the complaints nor the scant praise about RPV. We were on our own ‘down here’ in the grassroots. Having had careers in large organizations, corporate and nonprofit, I knew that the headquarters should be doing a lot to help us, but this is a volunteer business, top to bottom.
I was told that RPV had no money and was in a somewhat continuous state of disarray. I had very low if not zero, expectations. Therefore, was never disappointed and had no complaints. Notable exceptions to my disregard for RPV are the general counsel, who provided terrific support for our voter fraud case, and the IT gurus who were always helpful with the GOP Data Center, etc.
Here are some observations and opinions on current events. They are random, not in order of importance (real or perceived).
- I was on some early conference calls with the Republican Change Committee (RCC). I noted a lack of understanding among a couple of the participants of the women’s clubs, YR’s and CR’s. I, as maybe the only sitting unit chair on the call, emphasized the importance of these organizations, providing examples from my own experience. I was glad to see that they grew in their understanding and arrived at what I think is an equitable proposal.
- I am very disappointed in the campaigning rhetoric I am seeing (daily) from the current RPV chairman and his supporters. I started this process completely open-minded. They are helping me make up my mind.
The first ad I saw from Chairman Wilson was an attack on a constituent group, the RCC as if they had no right to offer an amendment proposal. He characterized them as “slashing” the auxiliary groups’ membership in the SCC.
The Chairman of any organization that follows Roberts Rules has the responsibility to give a fair hearing to any constituent subgroup. In fact, Roberts Rules encourages impartiality on the part of the chairman. Well, this is different, the chairman wants to get elected. I get that. Certainly, he should opine on the amendments, in a fair and balanced way without vilifying some constituents with dubious rhetoric.
Meanwhile, the mantra is repeated almost daily. Some of it cleverly worded to give the impression the amendment removes the YR’s, VFRW, and CR’s entirely from the SCC. He says his opponents want to “shrink” the party. What is “The Party?” By the definition of the RCC amendment detractors, it is the sacred State Central Committee.
Just today a district chair endorsed the sitting Chairman saying. “. . . there are voices looking to shrink our party . . .” Very disappointing and a bit insulting to our intelligence.
- My perception of the SCC is that it is, essentially, the board of directors (BOD) of RPV. A BOD is all about “corporate governance.” It oversees the operational leadership (chairman, vice-chair, treasurer, etc.) on behalf of shareholders (in a public company) or stakeholders (in a nonprofit). According to the Party Plan, the SCC also has some specific duties that include determining the nominating method for statewide offices and removing/replacing district chairmen when warranted.
To be effective and functional, a BOD must be of an appropriate size to observe, communicate, and, most importantly, act decisively in a timely manner. Decisive and timely are adjectives that would never be used for a body with 78 members, or even 54.
General Motors has a BOD of 11 people, Amazon has 10, United Way, 13. Seems like they managed to grow their organizations without growing their governing bodies. When I learned of the size of the RPV SCC I instantly knew that it could not be a real BOD. I think our performance as a party over the past several years confirms that. If the SCC Executive Committee is the real BOD, what’s the point of the rest of the body? How many layers of management and agonizing Roberts Rules exercises does it take to get something done? I’m not advocating the abolishment of the SCC and I don’t know exactly how big it should be. Anyone who has worked in large organizations knows a bloated management structure when he/she sees it.
“A camel is a racehorse designed by a committee.” — Anonymous
- The Grow Our Party (GOP) ad hoc group appears to be a visceral reaction to the proposal to ‘right-size’ the SCC at 54. If the GOP had formed to maintain the status quo, I could understand it. Instead, it seems like it has ‘doubled down’ with an ‘in your face’ counter-proposal to make the SCC even bigger. Even its name seems to reveal a subliminal message. If you are not with them, you must be in the “Shrink Our Party” group.
They seem to be certain that More is always Better. Maybe I’m just too far beyond forty to remember that bit of wisdom.
- In my conversations with YR’s concerning this issue, I have detected a sense that they are taking this personally, albeit in defense of their organization. I get the litany of the great things they do. Thanks, but it’s not about that. It’s about the ‘good of the order.’ How is having yet one more person on a team set up for dysfunctionality any better than having one less? BTW, how many different advocates are required for the young woman in my unit who is in a woman’s club and the YR’s? Too bad she’s not still in college and part of the CR’s too.
As for the doom and gloom I hear from my friends in the YR’s, and VFRW (who knows when we’ll see CR’s again?), do you expect an exodus from your groups if/when there is a reduction in SCC membership due to downsizing? Will there be a mad rush to the door? Do you not think you are valued enough by the other members of the SCC that your best interests would be considered on any decision requiring a vote? Those seats still would remain after the reduction of power-grabbing seats.
- The proposed Unit Chair caucus and it’s three reps to the SCC is a solution in search of a problem. Isn’t this why we elect SCC members at the district level? If the 126 unit chairs were canvassed for opinions on this, I was missed. We know our SCC reps. They visit our meetings. They listen. What’s the point? Seems like it is part of the ‘double down’ mentality.
In only Virginia and New Jersey, every year is an election year. I think that’s a big contributor to our problems. PLEASE don’t create another campaigning/election exercise to establish yet another redundancy.
Here I am, passing on an opportunity to have my ‘club’ (unit chairs) from being redundantly represented on the SCC.
- Real Growing Our Party happens in the units. Thanks to some talented and dedicated members, we have grown significantly and have achieved some milestones in recruiting Election Officials (mandated by VA Code, something the clubs and YR’s don’t have to worry about). We have also had a voter fraud victory, long overdue. Did we do this by increasing the size of our Executive Committee (BOD)? Of course not.
BTW, we are succeeding without the direct involvement of the YR’s or our local VFRW club. They are valued allies and we don’t hesitate to partner with them and ask them for support. In fact, we took the lead in our region by sponsoring a new YR group. Some units consider them competition for members. We believe that, as Republicans, we should make the pie bigger, not squabble over a small piece.
I don’t blame the YR’s for denying us door knocking support for campaigns that seemed hopeless. I admire their ability to deploy troops across borders, statewide and I envy their position to pick winners and losers. We don’t have the luxury at the city/county level. We, not the clubs, are the ones who are excoriated for failing to find a candidate in a hopeless (for now) district.
In summary, I’m just an average unit chair in a small city. Like most of us, I’m still in the OJT process. I wouldn’t have written this if someone hadn’t twisted my arm and if I didn’t know I have counterparts around the region and the state who share some of these opinions.
Most importantly, whatever the outcome of the RPV Unassembled Convention, I, and I hope all of my fellow unit chairs will support it 100% and move on with the real mission achieving victory in November.
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