After RNC Chairman Reince Priebus unveiled the Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Project last month, conservatives were hopeful this marked a fundamental change in the direction of the party. The 100-page document’s emphasis on engaging the grassroots and broadening party appeal seemed to indicate GOP leaders were looking to make amends with their base. Less than a month later however, the RNC renounced these claims and once again revealed the greatest hindrance to the GOP’s success: the party itself.
Many Republicans were aghast to witness the blatant political theater that took place last year during the Republican National Convention. Not only were controversial rules changes ushered in by Romney supporters and the establishment but video was released shortly thereafter revealing that the votes were rigged.
As an attempt to quell the growing animosity among grassroots conservatives, the RNC launched the Growth and Opportunity Project and offered to further discuss the rules changes at the RNC’s Spring Meeting.
Initially, it was believed the RNC was sincere in their efforts to overturn the recent powergrabs that rendered delegates nothing more than pawns being used in a chess match that had long been decided without them. As FreedomWorks New Media Director Kristina Ribali noted however, this was hardly the case:
“The changes not only removed the right of a delegate to change their mind at the convention, it also removed any opportunity for a delegate to sign a petition in support of any candidate other than their pledged candidate.
The language in this rule change removes virtually any power that a delegate would have to suppport a lesser known or unordained candidate.”
Ribali continued saying,
Consider this; had rules such as this been in place, candidates like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan would have never worked their way through the ranks and become a uniting force for the fiscal conservative movement. In 1976 Reagan was beat for the nomination on the floor of the convention. Realizing the need for renewed energy in the party, a more transparent process allowed for Reagan to become the party’s nominee in 1980.
Disappointed by the RNC’s refusal to honor the principles of decentralization and republican government they ostensibly cherish, roughly 50 grassroots activists and FreedomWorks staff members marched to the RNC office in Washington, D.C. on Tax Day, April 15th. The activists presented an open letter describing their grievences, along with a petition consisting of over 12,000 signatures demanding the rules changes be overturned.
Despite Chairman Priebus stating just days before that, “We all agree the grassroots are the center of this party and are vital to winning elections,” the activists were refused access to the RNC for more than hour.
Only then was FreedomWorks Communications Director Jackie Bodnar allowed inside just long enough to be reassured that these rule changes were empowering to the grassroots and conservatives have nothing to worry about.
Perhaps that would be more comforting if it weren’t coming from the same party leadership responsible for not only committing fraud to usher in their candidate, but ordaining a candidate who suffered a humilating loss to one of the most unpopular incumbents in history. One would think the dismal results of the presidential race would warrant a revitalizing of the party’s priorities but the leadership fails to yield.
Yet again, the Republican Party demonstrates itself to be the greatest obstacle to restoring a conservative form of government. As FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe has noted, “Sometimes you have to beat the Republicans before you can beat the Democrats.” If the GOP hopes to ever win elections in the future, they must first stop beating themselves.