the whitestick papers

looking at politics from a different perspective

1984 v 1994

with 3 comments

This article is intended to offer advice from the perspective of those who have been here before.  It’s likely some people will ignore it; who will, in all probability, mock, dispute and debate it.  While the hope is they, too, might learn something from the voice of experience, the real target is those who are open to learning from others.  Only you know which describes you.

The Republican Party is old and tired.  It needs – desperately – new blood, new energy and the renewed enthusiasm only available from young and energetic people.   This isn’t a debate point; it’s something people inside the Party recognize.   However, there are a couple of different ways to bring in new ideas and new talent; by hostile takeover or by cooperative transition.  Both have been tried in Oregon, and the tale of that experience can help guide what’s happening now.

In 1984 and 1986, there was a hostile takeover of the Oregon Republican Party by social conservatives.  Primarily driven by a commitment to a pro-life, “family values” agenda, they saw the Republican Party as the most likely vehicle for getting their values articulated and legislated.  They also saw the leadership and membership at the time as moderate, holding to some fiscally conservative values but unconcerned, even hostile about social issues.  Riding the wave of conservatism in Reagan’s second term, they ran for PCP, took over leadership at the county and state level, and generally went about upsetting the GOP apple cart.

Those in power previously resisted the effort and, for the next six years or so, the two factions fought each other at every turn.  First one and then the other had the upper hand and so much energy was spent in that battle there was little left for cooperative ventures to beat Democrats.  As a result, after the conservative flourish of Reagan the country sank into a morass of progressive programs and thought, sponsored by both major political parties.  Donors abandoned support, legislators and, eventually, candidates ignored the party and, by 1992, the conservative wing of the partywas largely beaten back.

Then, in 1994 and 1996, the social conservatives staged a comeback attempt.  This time, however, rather than fighting with the moderates, they found ways to work with the current members and leadership on common goals and campaigns, proving themselves reliable and reasonable.  There were sparks and controversies, of course, but rather than handling them with open hostility, the conservatives made a point of learning the rules as used and interpreted from within the party structure, being open in their dealings with other points of view and leaving room for those who disagreed with them within the party.

There were, as you might imagine, those within the social conservatives who favored a more confrontational, “hostile takeover” approach.  A critical juncture was reached with the decision to back southern Oregon Christian radio owner/operator Perry Atkinson over more aggressive tax activist Don McIntire.  Although Perry lost the race that year (after three tied ballots), he went on to be elected as Vice Chair that year and Chair the following cycle.  With that, the pattern was set and, by 2000, everyone in the ORP was falling all over themselves trying to prove they were conservative.

This parable of past history lays the backdrop for the advice mentioned earlier.  Right now, there are those in the Paul camp who are advocating for a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.   There’s some evidence this group is a minority within the movement but, like most such minorities, make the most noise.  The advise to the Liberty movement is to, rather than following those who want to destroy the ORP and RNC with the plan to rebuild it from scratch, you work instead to find ways to cooperate with and learn from those already in leadership.  You’re going to find a lot of people within the GOP generally sympathetic to your cause, if not necessarily with all your tactics, who will mentor and gladly turn over the reins of leadership within a few years.

By the way, there’s an easy way to tell who’s planning a hostile takeover and who’s open to a cooperative transition.  A key factor in preparing to do battle, whether ideological or physical, is to dehumanize your opponent; to turn them from a flesh-and-blood person into an enemy to be wounded or crushed.  This becomes evident in their writing and speaking; those who mock, demean, belittle or openly insult intend to do battle while those who maintain an open and respectful tone towards those they disagree with are open to finding allies.  There will be disagreements, even anger, between the rival points of view but it’s the way the debate is conducted that reveals the underlying motives.

Yes, the Republican Party is old and tired.  It needs new blood, new energy and the renewed enthusiasm only available from young and energetic people.   It’s up to the new folks whether you’ll spend the next several years fighting other Republicans or advancing the cause of Liberty.

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Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

22 July 2012 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Musings

3 Responses

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  1. Amen! Many within the party want to see change and a renewed focus to our core Constitutional beliefs. I find the Liberty Caucus full of energy and intelligent people. I do not believe in a conspiracy by Soros (Hanlon’s Razor http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor ) but I’ve seen some that have little patience and seem to prefer to tear-down rather then find areas of consensus. The Republican Party in Oregon has created close ties with the Christian Coalition, U-Choose, AFP, The Tea Party, 912 Project, Liberty Grassroots United, Northwest Connection, etc….how is the Liberty Caucus (past Ron Paul supporters) any different? Do we agree 100% with each other let alone any of these other groups? We need ALL conservatives to work together in Oregon if we are ever going to be successful.
    Just my

    zlazer

    22 July 2012 at 2:51 pm

    • There really is not anyone in the RLC who would disagree with your point zlazer. Indeed the reality is on June 23rd, they were well behaved. The only thing they did wrong is win. When delay tactics and illegal attempts to adjourn were used to stop them from winning, then we did see some rowdiness. As we seek unification we need to ask ourselves why would Allen Alley do this to his own party’s unity for such a low stakes gain of rewarding his friends and supporters with the privilege to be an alternate in Tampa? What does that say about his judgement? What does it say about are party? We cannot allow this kind of behavior become acceptable.

      Eric Shierman

      22 July 2012 at 3:14 pm

  2. It is important to remember that a hostile takeover in finance is only hostile when the existing management tries to fight the will of its own shareholders. There is nothing inherently hostile with investors buying up low priced shares in a poorly performing company and during shareholder meetings not voting for the incumbent directors. They never plan to destroy the company, but often with poison pill tactics, the management team holds the company itself hostage. The fight occurs when the established board members and the management team they have in place forgets it is the shareholders who own the company not them. The incumbent management team spreads all kinds of rumors about these new investors, calling them “vulture capitalists” seeking only to destroy this proud old company.

    So using the term hostile takeover is indeed a great metaphor here for the Oregon Republican Party. Like the social conservatives before them, the Republican Liberty Caucus did not seek to destroy anything, it simply sought to show up and vote according to the rules and according to their values. Last Friday, Allen Alley sent out an email that included a FORGED email purported to come from Alaska, that he has been using to spread rumors about Oregon RLC members’ desire to “deceive,” “confuse,” and use delaying tactics. How ironic since all these supposedly “hostile” folks intended to do was show up and vote for like minded people to fill internal party offices while it was Team Alley that engaged in deception, confusion, and delaying tactics, not to mention illegal adjournment which he has revealed was planned in a “preparation meeting” the day before. This email also includes an attached letter from Tim Smith that regurgitates another rumor spread before the conventions that we are being funded by George Soros! Perhaps you guys don’t understand how low the costs of coordinating and communicating have dropped in our soclial media world. The Oregon Chapter of the RLC has about $140 in its bank account. When the management team of failing companies or the management team of failing parties try to block the will of its shareholders or PCPs, then that we have trouble. Those that realize they don’t own their company or don’t own their party don’t have trouble, beyond losing some status and power. I suspect that status and power are more important to Allen Alley than the success of his own party, otherwise why would he choose to hit this beehive over such a trivial matter at the worst of all possible times?

    After first blood was drawn by Alley on June 23rd, and his intransigence behavior since, of course the RLC has been responding in kind, indeed it has a responsibility to so as to prevent behavior like Alley’s from happening again. I have been using my influence to do four things. 1) help them hold Alley accountable to help ensure the ORP remains a rules based organization. Remember Loran Later and John Lee are not members of our caucus; they have simply stood up for what is right. 2) convince Oregon’s RLC that they should limit this to Allen Alley himself. Hold him accountable, but just like Debaathification did not work for our occupation of Iraq, Deallyification is not in anyone’s interest. The formula should be “Punish Allen Alley, but forgive Solomon Yue.” 3) do not let Alley’s behavior tarnish your views of Mitt Romney. Across the party hardly anyone is excited about Mitt Romney, but he is our only chance to overturn Obamacare because he won’t veto its repeal. Besides that, if he is as bad as Obama we are still better off that we are now. 4) Divert your energies into a local campaign you can believe in such as Art Robinson and Tom Cox.

    The reality is they get this. If you really thought that CD2 broke for a two hour lunch, then how could you possibly know anything about what the RLC is really about? Did you get your impression from that forged email? or the way they have responded to what Alley has done? It seems to me that after fighting a losing battle defending what Alley did, now you don’t want him held accountable. We all know that there is one thing that would make this all go away and unite our party once again: Alley’s resignation.

    Eric Shierman

    22 July 2012 at 3:04 pm


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