the whitestick papers

looking at politics from a different perspective

Posts Tagged ‘Tea Party

Of lemonade stands and election 2012

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Even if you haven’t had the experience yourself, you’re aware of it by observation.  On a hot summer day, kids get the great idea to set up a table outside the house and sell lemonade.  Cooperative parents help with making the drink and providing the cups, and the child sits outside, dreaming of the cash they’ll soon have to buy, well, whatever they want.

Except it doesn’t quite work out that way, does it?

Sure, Mom buys a glass, and so does Dad.  Maybe a neighbor or two will help empty the first pitcher, but it doesn’t take very long before it’s obvious all those cars going by aren’t going to stop.  You have a great product (after all, it was made by Mom), an excellent location (see all those cars????) and yet no one’s buying what you’re selling.

The experience, of course, isn’t limited to the elementary school set.  A lot of adults have had great ideas for a wonderful new product or service, or maybe even a new twist on an old idea, only to see the crowds beat a path away from their door.  In many cases, the product is a good one, and the location even excellent; people just aren’t buying what you’re selling.

So, what does this have to do with the 2012 election?  Well, in the two months or so since November, we’ve all seen the political “experts” ruminate on what went wrong.  “The GOP didn’t do a good enough job at _______ (pick your favorite shortcoming)”, or “Mitt wasn’t in it to win it”, or any of a number of blame-pinning faults and failings.  But, stepping back from the finger-pointing and comparing this cycle to the exceptionally successful tidal wave of 2010, it becomes clear there wasn’t a great deal of difference between what the Republican Party and GOP candidates did then and what they did last year.  In fact, in many ways we did better and yet we got taken to the woodshed at nearly every level and in nearly every state.

So, if we can’t really blame our team, who can we blame?

For a clue, check out what US voters are saying since the election was held.  President Obama consistently comes in with an approval rating above 50% – a rate he’s had since about a month before the election and has held on to since.  Most Americans believe the “fiscal cliff” tax hike isn’t enough and the “rich” should pay more and lose deductions.  Most believe that the US economy is unfair to the middle class and – here’s the kicker – see those fighting to keep their taxes from going up as the bad guys in the fiscal debate.

In other words, they’re not buying what we’re selling.

Oh, sure, we could have done a better job doing the basic work of campaigning, and maybe Mitt could have done a better job running.  As a practical matter, it’s always possible and desirable to do more.  Truth be told, however, it’s hard to see how it could have been planned or executed better.  Mitt knocked that first debate out of the park and was spot on in his message.  Okay, so Oregon wasn’t a battleground state and received short shrift from national money and media, but what we did we did as well as we could, and reports from the battleground states indicate they were superlative efforts.

The reality is the voters determine what they want and, by extension, who they think will give it to them.  Oh, sure; there are those who see a conspiracy behind the election process; they can be lumped in with the “truthers” and tin-hat ET sort; evidence against their beliefs are ignored while the slimmest speculation in support is taken as gospel.  The reality is voters pick the nominees and the final victor; it’s as true in US politics as it is in American Idol and, despite clear evidence of election fraud, the end result is based on what the people want.

So why did the majority of voters support those whose policies will bankrupt the city, state and nation, particularly since just two years earlier – and even as late as six months earlier – the wind was in our direction?  First off, voters are incredibly fickle – just ask George HW Bush, who had a 70%+ approval rating a year before he lost handily to an “ah, shucks” country bumpkin.   As a group, they tend to respond emotionally rather than logically, voting for someone because he played saxophone on late-night TV or had an African father.  Appeals to rational arguments, even things as close as family income and buying power, doesn’t result in voter support near as much as a vague feeling that the candidate “gets me” or, better yet, “is like me.”  Try as we might, Republicans can’t seem to create that charisma.

There’s an element of this that also explains why Republicans and conservative ideas did better in 2010 than they did in 2012; the TEA Party put a human face on those ideals and, in a manner unseen since the American Revolution, made liberty popular and populist.  Expressing real emotions (rather than cynically manipulating them, as the left tends to do), they touched the hearts of voters and the latter responded.  Since then, however, the TEA Party has largely disappeared from the national stage (except as cannon fodder for leftist candidates and media hacks) and, without the emotional support, the movement stalled.

This isn’t a call for the TEA Party to get back into the streets, although it would be nice to see them supplant the current crop of Occupiers who have moved the discussion the other direction.  Emotions like that can’t really be manufactured; if the movement is going to revive it will have to be done the same way it happened before; spontaneously.

And then, in 2014 and 2016 we may have a majority of those cars stop for a glass of lemonade.

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Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

2 January 2013 at 6:39 am

The lesser of two evils…

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It is perhaps the most frustrating of choices; to look on the ballot and try to pick the candidate you dislike the least.  Is there no one you can soundly support or are you forced to vote for one person because you’re determined to vote against their opponent?

The fact is, no matter who you vote for, you’re always voting for the lesser of two evils.

There are a couple of reasons for this, both of which trace back to basic human nature.  The first reality is that everyone is flawed.  Some more than others, of course, but the fact is no one is perfect.  This is true for everyone and seems to be particularly true for those who seek political office.

The second factor flows from this; power corrupts.  Those who seek political office often seek that power and, with it, the inevitable corruption.  Some resist more than others, but it taints everyone.

Taking into account that you will always vote for the person who, to you, is the lesser of two evils, let’s apply that to the current Presidential race.  Either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama will be elected in November.   Sure; there are those who hope others might but, unless you’re completely deluded, even the most loyal follower of one of the “also ran” candidates has to admit that.

Your choice comes down to someone who might be less than what you’d prefer but, in general, agrees with you on many, if not most, points.  Mitt Romney embodies the value of a free market, the necessity of a reduced government and the economic ruin caused by a runaway deficit.  He shows he understands that the country’s greatness has been built by people, not the government.

Or you can vote for a person who has demonstrated a total commitment to Keynesian economics, anti-colonial loathing of America and a willingness to reward some and punish others both domestically and as a foreign policy.  Barack Obama told the Russian President he would do even more in a second term and, since he wouldn’t have to deal with another re-election, he easily could.  Is that what you want?

To vote for someone else or to not vote is to let Obama win by default.  For a person of principle, who wants a restoration of American liberty and rule of law, the only logical choice is to go with the one who could turn things around.  Even though flawed, Romney is more likely to stop the current devolution than to continue, much less accelerate it.

Sure, Romney’s not perfect.

Who is?

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

13 September 2012 at 8:21 am

Disenfranchised?

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Since the adjournment of the 2012 Oregon Republican District Convention June 23rd we’ve heard a lot about how the Precinct Committee People (PCP) were “disenfranchised”.  They had a right, or so the story goes, to vote on Alternate Delegates to the Republican National Convention.  By ending the Convention at 5:00pm, even though the published agenda made it clear that was the scheduled deadline, and not casting ballots for At-Large and Congressional District (CD) Alternates, they were denied their chance to vote on those positions.

To add insult to injury, the Alternates were chosen by the ORP Executive Committee, who didn’t vote for the people the PCP had intended to vote for.  Instead, this group of so-called “elite” used their power to vote for their “friends”, ignoring the “clear will of the PCP”. To hear them tell it, it’s disgraceful and an obvious abuse of power.

But there’s more to the story.  To understand the full picture, we need to step back a bit and follow the tale starting not with the District Convention, but with the Primary election in May.  At that time, a majority of the Republicans voting chose Mitt Romney (204,176) as their preference for President.  Coming in a distant second was Ron Paul (36,810), followed by Rick Santorum (27,042) with Newt Gingrich trailing (15,451).  Based on criteria that had been set up before, this resulted in Romney earning 18 Delegates to the National Convention from Oregon, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum with 3 each and just 1 for Gingrich.

This is where the plot thickens.  Supporters of Dr. Paul decided to ignore the clear will of the Republicans in Oregon and, instead, ran a number of people loyal to him as candidates for Delegate and Alternate pledged to Romney, Santorum and Gingrich.  Since they had a committed minority of those attending the District Convention, this elite cadre could – and did – elect their friends in place of Delegate candidates actually committed to the other Presidential contenders.

Rather than a delegation that reflected the will of the Republican voters of Oregon, the scheme was to substitute a Delegation that reflected the goals and values of a minority of the PCP.  Based on voting results from each of the Districts, the Paul supporters comprised 40-45% of those in attendance but, because they voted in near lock-step, they gained a result far out of proportion not only to their numbers but out of keeping with what the voters had indicated.   Instead of the Delegate spread as determined by the Primary vote result, Ron Paul had 16 Delegates from Oregon with the other 9 scattered among the other three Presidential candidates.

The full scope of the plan was thwarted when the Convention ran out of time.  There are conspiracy theories about the ORP and/or Team Romney running out the clock, but the main culprit was simple human error and the logistics challenge of holding a single meeting in five locations simultaneously.  One District had the bulb on their projector burn out and then took an extended lunch break, putting it nearly three hours behind the agenda for the day.  Another changed the order of elections so that the CD Delegate elections came late in the day.  As a result, the intrinsically interlinked meetings were all stalled waiting for results before they could move on.  In any event, the Convention was adjourned before the Alternate elections could take place.

The ORP has a rule to deal with a situation like this, and has had since 2005.  Standing Rule 11 provides for the state Executive Committee to appoint Alternates to any position left vacant.  Usually, that occurs when someone who was elected isn’t able to go but, in the past, has also included situations when not enough Alternates are elected to fill all available positions.  Thus, the Executive Committee was called together to select those Alternates, and did so by election on June 30.

Since they understood the purpose of the Convention is to elect a Delegation that matches, more or less, the vote of Republicans in the state and as a way to honor those who had worked for the various candidates, the Executive Committee invited representatives from each campaign to send a representative to provide the names of people they’d like to see included as Alternates.  The Newt Gingrich campaign didn’t send anyone, and a long-time ORP activist was elected to that slot.  The Ron Paul representative spent the first four minutes of his time talking about himself and, after being reminded why he was asked to be there, spent the last talking about Dr. Paul.   Since he provided no recommendations, three people known to be Paul supporters were elected as those Alternates.

The person who directed the Santorum effort in Oregon presented recommendations and tales of what they’d done for the campaign.  He and two of the other two he suggested were elected.  The Romney representative provided a list of those who’d been involved in their campaign not only in 2012 but, in many cases, in 2008 as well.  This included 2 of the 3 people selected in CD2 after that meeting voted for an Extension in compliance with Robert’s Rules of Order after the Adjournment.  They, too, were elected.

So, it kind of comes down to who disenfranchised whom, and who deserves representation.  You see, PCP are elected to be representatives of the registered Republicans in their precinct.  They can, of course, vote any way they want but, like those elected to the Legislature, are expected to reflect their constituency.   By substituting their own will for that of the people they are called upon to represent, did these PCP act like the worst and most corrupt of politicians?

And did the Executive Committee, by using the will of the people as their guide, really disenfranchise a minority of PCP or more accurately restore balance, to a point, to the Oregon Delegation?  If the PCP were right in voting their own will over a majority of the people, why is the Executive Committee wrong in doing the same thing in voting theirs over that of a minority  the PCP?

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

15 July 2012 at 4:54 pm

The power of an engaged citizenry

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Even though not a single citizen voted on it, on 16 December 2010 the citizens of the United States showed they had dramatically changed  how the political elites in Washington DC thought of them.  A massive omnibus spending bill, riddled with special interest spending of all sorts and made necessary by the inaction of the sitting legislators who were too afraid to pass spending bills before Election Day, was withdrawn in the face of citizen opposition.  Although now called a “lame duck session”, this is the same group of Senators and Representatives who blatantly disregarded the consent of the people less than a year earlier to pass Obamacare.  They did it then in spite of spirited and vocal opposition, using backroom deals and parliamentary tricks but flinched now, even though many of them won’t hold their seats in a little over a month and it’ll be nearly two years before any of them face another election.  (For information on the bill and its aftermath, go here: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/255531/omnibus-falls-robert-costa?page=1).

The date of this citizen victory is interesting.  It’s probably just coincidental – it’s unlikely Senate President Harry Reid would do it on purpose – but 16 December is already a significant date in American history.  After blocking transfer of taxed tea from England from the ships to the dock, a group of citizens stormed the ships and tossed the offending crates into Boston harbor.  The Boston Tea Party took place 16 December 1773 and is the event most directly tied to the War of Independence.  Today, a ideologically- (rather than personality-) driven citizen rebellion that ironically has come to be known as the Tea Party Movement saw the results of their growing impact on politics in America.

For years, we’ve heard people say their vote doesn’t make any difference.  It may even have been true –at the time.  It isn’t any longer.  The close elections of Ron Maurer vs. Susan Castillo last May, Chris Dudley and John Kitzhaber this November and a number of other close elections in Oregon and around the country demonstrate the importance of even a few votes.  Every person who can be registered should be; if you’re reading this in Oregon and not registered, change that today – you can do it online at https://secure.sos.state.or.us/orestar/vr/register.do?lang=eng so there’s really no excuse.  If you’re registered and don’t always vote, we do it by mail here so there’s really no excuse.  If you live elsewhere, it’s not all that difficult to register and to vote, so you really don’t have an excuse, either. Your vote matters; do it.

But, more importantly, the decision by the arrogant and dismissive Senator Reid to recognize the will of the people, as expressed by the unwillingness of Senators from both parties to conduct business as usual in the face of citizen input and even though some of them had supported it in committee, shows the power of each individual citizen in this country when we band together and exercise our authority over government.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…that to ensure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just power from the consent of the governed…” reads, in part, a key section of the Declaration of Independence.  The Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the US Constitution codifies this by stating the federal government has no power except those stated in the document and, if it’s not given there, the people or the states have the power.   The political elite believes and acts as if they have all the power but, in reality, the power rests with the people.   Thomas Jefferson noted, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty,” and, until recently, it would be safe to say most Americans feared their government.

For too long we’ve allowed the politicians and bureaucrats, the special interests and public employee unions, the elite and those not affected by the laws they pass or administer to rule over us without regard to the consent of the governed.  But on the 237th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, we got a glimpse of the tremendous power an engaged citizenry can have.

May their tribe increase!

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

18 December 2010 at 3:01 am

Posted in Events

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You’d think we’d learn…

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Thanks to NW Republican for bringing this to our attention:  http://nwrepublican.blogspot.com/2010/12/just-another-we-told-you-so-moment.html which, in turn, referenced Jeff Mapes’ blog: http://blog.oregonlive.com/mapesonpolitics/2010/12/kulongoskis_spokeswoman_joins.html

In a year which saw a Republican tsunami change the shape of the US House, US Senate and a number of Governorships, even poor little blue state Oregon should have seen something more than the red tide that evened out our House and Senate, more or less.  But, because our Republican candidates keep hiring the same consultants, we keep getting trounced – even in banner Republican years.  A friend of mine is fond of saying, “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’ll keep getting what you’re getting,” but Oregon Republicans keep hiring the “certified smart” people who have lost election after election.

Now that the dust has settled from last month’s game-changer, we’re seeing stories like this crop up.  The guy who talked center-right Senator Gordon Smith into becoming center-left has now hired the former spokeswoman for the guy who’s just now realizing Oregon has a budget problem.  Dan Lavey’s last major Republican client turned out to have voted for Obama in 2008 and, despite heavy name recognition, couldn’t overcome an unprecedented third-term by a guy who left saying the state was ungovernable.  It’s enough to make you wonder where the guy’s loyalties lie.  It sure doesn’t seem to be with promoting Republican ideals and tapping in to the thirst for liberty that’s taken over most of the country.

If and only if Republican candidates in Oregon stop paying attention to advisors who tell them to run toward the center and to not make waves can we hope to see a powerful Republican surge in the state.  For the time being, however, it looks like we’re only going to keep getting what we’ve been getting.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

7 December 2010 at 3:45 pm

The next election…

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Sure, it hasn’t even been a month yet since the 2010 General Election, and most people have gone back into their normal state of largely passive indifference to politics.  Some are aware and thinking about the next major battle in the Second American Revolution, scheduled for nearly two years from now but, for the most part, even they aren’t really thinking much about that yet.

Well, I hope you realize we don’t really have that long a wait before the next election.  In Oregon, and in most other states, there are elections every year.  In fact, the next election in Oregon is in May 2011 and, in many ways, it’s more important than the ones where we elect state and national representatives.  And the funny thing is they’re much easier for conservatives to win.

In May of the odd-numbered years, Oregon holds elections for school boards, local school committees and a number of other local non-partisan, unpaid boards and commissions.  Over the years, the Democrats have dominated these positions, and it’s one of the reasons there are so many school districts going in the wrong direction.  More to the point, these are the boards and commissions which control things like charter schools or online schools, which tend to do a better job of teaching at a lower price than regular public schools.  Conservatives are often interested in that sort of thing but, for some reason, liberals seem to want to make sure everyone gets the same education, even if it’s doing badly.

Unlike legislative races, there are seldom large amounts of money needed to conduct a campaign; you don’t usually see lawn signs or bumper stickers for school board races.  Fulfilling the duties, if you’re elected, is considerably less difficult to coordinate with a job – you’d have meetings once or twice a month and, occasionally, special projects and the like.  In other words, it’s a great way to learn how to conduct a campaign and do the job of a public servant.  That’s why it’s sometimes called the “farm team” of politics; like the minor leagues and farm teams of professional sports, it’s a way for people to get involved, get some experience and get something to put on their Voter’s Pamphlet statement when it asks for “government experience”.

So, why do I bring this up?  This is a great project for people interested in returning this country to its Constitutional basis to get the experience they need to succeed.  The Democrats have been doing it for years, and it’s one of the reasons conservatives are boxed in on all sides.  It’s also where the policies decided by the legislature and Department of Education are put into practice; wouldn’t it be better if someone really concerned about the kids were making those decisions?

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

18 November 2010 at 2:36 pm

Why we lost the big ones in Oregon

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All things considered, we did all right in Oregon.  We brought both chambers of the legislature back from a Democrat supermajority to dead even in the House and nearly even in the Senate.  We’d have tied up the Senate as well if Jackson County hadn’t kept “discovering” and counting votes until they got the result they wanted, but we’re not going to correct that problem until we have a Secretary of State that isn’t corrupt.  Keep that in mind for 2012.

We did, however, lose the big races in Oregon, bucking a trend that saw the US House overrun by Republicans , the Senate all but tied up, a host of Republican Governors and even a bunch of new Republican-dominated state legislatures .  The “Remember November” tsunami may have turned into a red tide in Oregon, but part of the problem is we had a seriously uphill battle in several cases.  Blumenauer and DeFazio were going to be hard to beat no matter what, and both Lopez and Robinson did an excellent job getting the results they did.  We all knew Telfer and Huffman started off trailing so badly after the Primary that they’d have a tough time catching up and their campaigns never seemed to catch fire.  So what happened there isn’t much of a surprise.

However, the three races we could have, or even should have, won we didn’t.  And it looks like the reason Dudley, Cornilles and, to a lesser extent, Bruun fell by the wayside is essentially the same reason Huffman fell flat.   They bought into what the “certified smart” folks have peddled for years, which has led to defeat after Republican defeat.

NW Republican (http://nwrepublican.blogspot.com/2010/11/chris-dudleydan-laveykerry-tymchuck.html)  has done an excellent job detailing the underpinnings of the Dudley defeat, and there’s no reason to restate those here.  This writer had only minimal contact with the Bruun race and would only be able to comment on what seems to be the case rather than from personal and objective observation.  However, having been a fixture in the Washington County Victory effort and in persistent contact with the Cornilles campaign since he first announced some 16 months earlier, there’s a lot a careful and experienced observer can report.

From the beginning, Rob did exactly what he should have to gain the office.  He went through established channels – former Senator Gordon Smith to Representative Greg Walden – to get to the folks back east.  He made a public announcement, worked the party leadership, contacted the principal donors and ran a campaign focused on November rather than May.  His nomination was a given before the official filing date in March and, despite a good showing, his Primary opponents never stood a real chance.  Doug and John won’t like hearing that, but that’s the way it is.

The problem is Rob paid a lot more attention to folks brought in from DC in April and July rather than those who have lived and campaigned in the First District for years, even decades.  There are folks here who know what it will take to beat David Wu and, frankly, it’s the same sort of thing that pushed Republicans over the finish line all over the country. But it’s something the “certified smart” specialists from the consulting firms avoid like progressives avoid tax cuts.

In a word, it’s leadership, and Rob was never allowed to show his.

A leader says “This is the direction we need to go,” and defines specific things he’ll do if elected.  In this cycle, repealing Obamacare and extending (or even expanding) the Bush tax cuts would have garnered interest and intensity.  However, the “certified smart” mantra is never make a statement your opponent can use against you.  As a result, Rob campaigned on a message of “Well, I’m not a Democrat” (designed to catch a ride on the Tea Party surf) and refusing to commit to repealing Obamacare, even if Republicans had a veto-proof majority.

Rob Cornilles is one of the best candidates to run since the Democrats took control of Oregon’s First District some thirty-odd years ago.  He’s amazingly able, bright, clever, dedicated, determined, energetic and engaging.  He really needs to run again, either for Congress or for some other office.  At 44%, he by far did the best against David Wu since Molly Bordanaro came up short with 47% when the two newcomers ran against each other in 1996.  During his concession speech, he said we hadn’t seen the last of him in politics – and that he’d make an announcement in the upcomings weeks along those lines.  It’s not too much to hope that means this is just the first race he enters.  If he does it right, he will win.

Rob’s leadership ability is clear from his successfully creating and then filling a niche in a niche industry.  We definitely need “citizen legislators” with a business background, not just in Congress but at all levels.  The hope is he’s learned from this experience and, while keeping an ear open to the folks from Back East who funnel so much money into these elections, he’ll also take the advice of people who live here.

If so,  next time it could be Wu giving the concession speech…

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

10 November 2010 at 11:57 am

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