Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On the Priebus Resolution...

John Fiastro, Jr. – the newly elected Chairman of the Baltimore County GOP Central Committee – is a good guy. Strategic, hard-working, and very much a big tent thinker, I expect him to do good things when it comes to building the party in my home county.

Chairman Fiastro plans to introduce a resolution at the party’s winter convention, which occurs November 30 – December 1, 2012 in Howard County, in effect directing the state’s three members of the Republican National Committee to oppose the reelection of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who is seeking a second, two-year term despite the party’s dismal performance during the 2012 election cycle.

Fiastro cited an emerging sentiment among county party leaders that the RNC needs new leadership, as well as the RNC’s neglect of Maryland, as the reasons he is pushing the resolution.

Now, there’s no need to sugar coat things: The GOP received a major ass-kicking on November 6th. A presidential election which was supposed to be close wasn’t – especially in terms of the Electoral College. A Senate that once looked like it might flip to GOP control didn’t, partially due to candidates who chose to speak sympathetically about rape instead of the economy.  And, the party shed seats in the House, including one in Maryland, making its once formidable House majority seem fragile.

In light of these events, it is not surprising that rank and file partisans would be looking to mete out blame. We’ve seen it here in Maryland with Chairman Alex Mooney, so it makes sense that Chairman Priebus might draw ire as well.

But as understandable as the sentiments behind the resolution may be, I see it as a questionable exercise for one primary reason: Chairman Priebus is already a dead lock cinch to be reelected.

Priebus announced that 130 of the 168 members of the RNC have already endorsed his reelection, and agreed to let their names be published. Further, no serious challenger to Priebus has emerged. Additionally, to my knowledge, Maryland’s is the only state party contemplating such an anti-Priebus resolution.

This sense of inevitability surrounding Priebus may seem strange, especially given the general state of unhappiness among Republicans right now. Then again, the party deposed a chairman with a winning record in 2010, and the country just convincingly reelected a president with persistently high unemployment for the first time since 1936. Part of me is starting to wonder if the old rules still apply.

Realistically speaking, I’m forced to wonder what the resolution will actually accomplish. Binding the state’s RNC representatives to vote against an RNC chairman with no opposition and super-majority support seems like a hollow gesture. And, while deep blue Maryland is not a priority for the RNC as far as resources are concerned, passing this resolution will transform Chairman Priebus’s attitude towards Maryland from one of neglect to outright hostility.

Perhaps most importantly, it won’t bind anyone to do anything. Balloting for the RNC chairman’s race is done in secret, so the state’s three RNC members – Nicolee Ambrose, Louis Pope, and Alex Mooney – are free to vote their conscience.

Holding party leaders like Priebus accountable for the election results is a desirable objective. Perhaps the MDGOP can best serve that end by passing a resolution identifying deficiencies in Priebus’s leadership and pressing for specific reforms.  By comparison, simply antagonizing a chairman who’s going to be in office for two more years strikes me as counterproductive at best, and self-destructive at worst.

One of my Facebook friends likened Fiastro to the protester who famously stood in front of the tanks during the Tiananmen Square uprising.  Yes, what that man did was heroic. But, the protesters were crushed and that man was never heard from again.

The lesson here for state Republicans is clear: Taking a stand is noble, but doing so when you actually have a realistic chance of achieving success is optimal.

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