Grassroots

House Republicans need a conservative leader, not another milquetoast squish like Kevin McCarthy

Raul Labrador

It appears that the House Republican Conference has learned nothing from Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) stunning defeat on Tuesday. Roll Call reports today that Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) may have enough support to replace Cantor, who will step down on July 31.

McCarthy isn’t an improvement over Cantor. If a majority of the House Republican Conference pick him, it will be an endorsement of the status quo — unprincipled, milquetoast leadership that, more often than not, ignores the grassroots.

Sure, Republicans talk a good game on the campaign trail. They say they believe in limited government and freedom on the stump. But when they get back to Washington, they kowtow to K Street. Suddenly, as Stephen Slivinski once said, they no longer look at the nation’s capital as a cesspool, but treat it like a jacuzzi.

There is, however, an alternative to McCarthy, who, as explained yesterday, has a terrible record on fiscal and constitutional issues.

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a liberty-minded Republican, announced just moments ago that he will challenge McCarthy for the top leadership post when the House Republican Conference holds its leadership election Thursday, June 19. Which, by the way, will be conducted by secret ballot.

“I was stunned when Eric Cantor lost his primary election earlier this week. Eric is a good friend and I have tremendous respect for him,” Labrador said in a press release. “But the message from Tuesday is clear – Americans are looking for a change in the status quo.”

GOP, crony allies plan efforts to undermine conservatives

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Christmas which explained in detail how Republican leaders and the United States Chamber of Commerce are looking to diminish the influence of conservatives both in and outside of Congress. This gives us a glimpse at the latest battle, if you will, in the ongoing Republican civil war.

You may remember that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lashed out at conservative groups that opposed the budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It turns out, though unsurprisingly, that this public admonition of conservatives was just scratched the surface. It turns out, as the Journal explained, that Republican leaders were threatening members with loss of committee assignments if they voted against the budget deal:

Mr. Boehner’s deputies took steps behind the scenes to end internal dissent, including among GOP committee chairmen who had voted against the House leadership in prior fiscal battles. In the run-up to the budget vote, Mr. Boehner’s deputies warned chairmen who were tempted to oppose the deal that doing so could jeopardize their committee posts, said people familiar with the discussions.

The goal was to reverse a trend in which chairmen, who typically earn their post by hewing to the party line, voted against priority legislation. Six chairmen had voted against an initial version of a farm bill earlier in the year, causing the legislation to collapse on the House floor, and 11 voted against the pact this fall to reopen the federal government and extend the country’s borrowing authority into 2014.

The New Republican Party: Libertarian Fusionism in Virginia

The rise of the so-called “liberty movement,” which sprang out of the early days of Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, and of the tea party movement, which was a reaction to the one-party Democrat rule in Washington after the 2008 elections (with Obama’s victory being the likely spark) has forced the Republican Party to wrestle with warring factions in an attempt to establish a winning coalition.

Those in the media love to paint the GOP’s internal struggle as evidence of a party in the throes of extinction; as a party out-of-touch with mainstream America. But I think the “growing pains” the GOP are experiencing could potentially strengthen the Republican Party.

I am of the opinion that we have two political parties in our first-past-the-post electoral system. Few candidates have won major office in recent history under the banner of any party other than the Republican or Democrat parties. There are exceptions, but they’re rare, and those candidates usually win because of their personality, rather than a set of ideals on which a party platform could be constructed. Think Maine’s Angus King or Connecticut’s Joe Lieberman.

It is with that understanding that many within the “liberty movement” in Virginia have begun working within the Republican Party to move it in a more (small-L) libertarian direction. Our reasoning is that political parties do not hold a certain philosophy; they are vessels through which their members advance a set of ideas and beliefs. As the GOP looks for a path forward, it should look to the way the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) has embraced liberty activists.

The GOP’s Worst Enemy

Reince Priebus

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:

Grassroots Activists Turned Away at the RNC

Grassroots activists walk to the RNC

Just days after the Republican National Committee (RNC) rejected most proposed rules changes that would undo the power grab from last year’s convention, a number of grassroots activists stopped by to express their disappointment with party leaders and let them know that they would not give up the fight.

Shortly after 10am, around 50 activists (pictured above) showed up at RNC headquarters in Washington, DC to present a representative from the party with a open letter to Chairman Reince Priebus that hit at the heart of grassroots’ frustration with the party.

“As grassroots fiscally conservative activists from states across the country, we are stopping by the RNC Headquarters in Washington today to express our disappointment in the Party’s continuing marginalization of the individuals who are driving the only credible ground game to combat the progressive liberal political machine,” read the activist-signed letter to Priebus. “After reading the 100-page Growth and Opportunity Project, we had a glimmer of hope that the Republican Party was going to make a sincere effort to make the Party process more bottom-up and transparent in structure.”

“The opportunity to repeal the ‘Tampa Power Grab’ last week was your first big shot at beginning to mend the relationship between the Party and the principled, small-government grassroots activists that you’ve disenfranchised,” the letter continued. “And you blew it.”

Karl Rove wishes Rubio, Lee, Paul and Cruz weren’t senators

News broke over the weekend that Karl Rove was launching a new PAC aimed at helping establishment Republicans defeat conservatives in primary races. As I explained yesterday, this move is tantamount to declaring war on grassroots fiscal conservatives.

Based on the formation of this new PAC, the absurdly named “Conservative Victory Project,” Rove obviously wishes that Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio hadn’t have won their primary battles, in which they were pitted against more establishment candidates.

Yesterday, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, responded to Rove’s new PAC in a statement, noting that the “Empire is striking back.”

“Imagine a Republican Party without the leadership, energy and principled ideas coming from Senators like Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey and Mike Lee, because that is what you would get from a lack of real primary race competition now being proposed by Karl Rove,” said Kibbe. “The choice is simple: should voters choose who represents them in Washington, DC, or should political insiders make the decision behind closed doors?”

Echoing Ronald Reagan’s words of “rais[ing] bold colors, not pale pastels,” Kibbe noted that a watered down vision will not lead the Republican Party to electoral success. “We believe that good ideas, compelling candidates, and open competition are the only way to rehabilitate the GOP,” explained Kibbe, “and the diverse group of compelling young leaders our grassroots community has helped bring to Congress speaks for itself.”

FreedomWorks hosts grassroots activists for 2012 election debrief

Matt Kibbe praises activistsWith the dust finally clearing from the 2012 election, FreedomWorks, an organization that organizes and trains the grassroots, hosted over 100 activists from 19 states for a debrief on this year’s campaigns — finding out what tactics and strategies did and didn’t work.

This weekend also provided these Freedom Movement activists, all of which were flown into Washington, DC for the meeting at FreedomWorks’ headquarters, an opportunity to plan for 2014, as well as to receive some training in new techniques to help get their message out to new voters and to get an idea of what is going on in the negotiations over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and the status of ObamaCare’s state healthcare exchanges.

This morning, FreedomWorks hosted a press conference that give activists an opportunity to be heard by the media. Before turning over the press conference to activists, Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, explained that “[t]here’s more energy in this movement today than there was on November 6th,” adding that the the activists that showed up this weekend are focused on 2014 and ideas.

Kibbe also noted that the debate and negotiations on the “fiscal cliff” were somewhat peculiar. “I don’t know about you, but I feel like we went over the fiscal cliff a long time ago,” explained Kibbe.

Thoughts on the Republican National Convention

RNC

Last week, I went to Tampa for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This was sort of an odd experience for me, being a libertarian and all. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to conventions and conferences before. The oddest experience was BlogCon in Denver last November, when the local Occupiers showed up to protest us. But the RNC was a much, much larger scale event.

Tropical Storm Isaac: While I understand why Republicans saw fit to scale back events for Monday, the storm really didn’t do much to the Tampa area. It rained some, but it wasn’t near what everyone was expecting. Truth is Republicans could have gotten away with more than gaveling the convention to order. By the time the storm actually hit, everyone was more concerned with what could happen to New Orleans and the rest of Gulf Coast than Tampa.

Grassroots v. the Establishment: Over at FreedomWorks, Dean Clancy has put together a great synopsis of the fight over the new rules implemented, which won’t start until the 2016 process. We went over some of this earlier last week, but at this point many grassroots activists are disenfranchised. Many Ron Paul supporters who attended the RNC as delegates may now be looking for an alternative come November because of the rules changes.

Rule 12 would allow the Republican National Committee to change the rules if 3/4 approve. As Clancy explains, “The new Rule 16 requires that a delegate who attempts to violate his binding pledge to a candidate under state law or state party rules shall be deemed to have resigned and the Secretary of the Convention must record the improper vote as it should have been cast based on state law or party rule.”

Ted Cruz is dominating Facebook, Twitter

Ted Cruz

Facebook and Twitter revealed that “Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz together accounted for 40 percent of the discussion on Facebook and nearly half — 47 percent — of mentions on Twitter among 10 top presidential possibilities in the past three months” though neither of them were on the ballot during the November election, according to POLITICO this morning.

From the report:

Of the 27 million Facebook posts, comments and content likes related to the potential White House candidates between Aug. 22 and Nov. 22, Clinton and Cruz each were mentioned in 20 percent of the posts, according to Facebook’s data scientists. Clinton topped Cruz though in the number of people talking about her with 2.3 million people making 5.6 million interactions, while Cruz had 1.8 million users referencing him in 5.6 million interactions. (POLITICO provided the list of contenders to Facebook and Twitter.)

Of the 15.9 million mentions of candidates’ names or Twitter handles between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1, Cruz snagged 4.6 million mentions, or 29 percent, while Clinton garnered 2.9 million mentions, or 18 percent.

A former digital director for President Obama’s 2012 campaign noted, “Imperfect as it is, [Facebook] is probably the biggest trove of data of what actual human beings outside of Washington, D.C., are talking about day to day and that makes it intrinsically important, and these platforms are actually important for reaching people and motivating them.”

Ben Carson says the “chances are reasonably good” that he’ll run for the president

There’s been a lot of focus on potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders in the last several months as commentators and pundits watch closely the moves they’re making ahead of the mid-term election.

Thus far, the talk is focused on a handful of names, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), and former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL). But Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins University and darling of the conservative movement, is seriously considering a bid of his own:

“Unless the American people indicate in November that they like Big Government intervention in every part of their lives, I think the likelihood is strong,” Carson said Monday night on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” according to a show transcript, when asked about the chances of a presidential run.

Carson, who was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President George W. Bush, said that he will be waiting for “a few more months” before making any definite decisions, and predicted that he will make a formal announcement in May of next year.

“I think the chances are reasonably good of that happening,” Carson said. “I want to make sure that it’s clearly something my fellow Americans want me to do. And I’m also waiting to see what the results are in November, because if the people indicate that they truly do want a nation that is for, of and by the people, then I, along with I hope many other people, would be willing to give it everything we possibly have.”


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