Friday, January 10, 2014

GOP civil war comes to Houston

Let's just hope they don't start shooting (I'm more worried about them hitting innocent bystanders than I am each other).

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has endorsed Paul Simpson, who is challenging six-term incumbent Jared Woodfill for chairman of the Harris County Republican Party, according to the Austin political website, the Quorum Report.

Reporter Scott Braddock quotes Emmett as saying that he believes the party should be making a greater effort to reach out to young people.

“Ronald Reagan would probably not be welcome in today’s Republican Party,” Braddock quotes Emmett as saying. “I would like to see the base in Harris County to be 400,000, not 150,000.”

The QR link doesn't offer much more unless you're a subscriber.  But Greg "Rhymes With Hate" is all over it, like orange cones on the George Washington Bridge.

No really, you should click over.  It's calm, reasoned, insightful; not at all like the deranged and hyperbolic comments he occasionally leaves here. Here's an example (of the former, not the latter)...

First, the Harris County GOP is the largest local Republican Party in the United States. Any change of direction here indicates the potential for a seismic shift in the state of Texas, with the shock waves rippling out to impact the entire country. And since Emmett is the highest ranking elected official in the county, it indicates that there are powerful people here in the Houston area who are not comfortable with the direction the county party has been headed for some time.

Secondly, it is important to note that the reason for the shift is the recognition by many Republicans that the party needs to move in the direction of greater inclusivity. In recent years the party has been controlled by a social conservative faction that has recently been loathe to include anyone who is not purer than Ivory Soap in terms of their support for every jot and tittle of the Texas GOP platform. It would appear that this is a significant factor in Judge Emmett's decision to throw his support behind Paul Simpson's candidacy -- the willingness of Jared Woodfill and those who back him to leave precinct chair positions vacant rather than fill those slots with someone who Ronald Reagan would have defined as friends and allies rather than traitors to the Republican cause. Judge Emmett openly expressed his concern that men like Reagan and Barry Goldwater, a pair who were once the gold standard for what it meant to be a Republican and a conservative, would no longer be considered acceptable candidates for office (even to be precinct chairs) by the current leadership in Harris County.

The GOP, from DC to Austin to Houston, obviously has tremendous issues.  I have catalogued many permutations of the insidious conservative virus and the damage it has done in over ten-plus years of blogging here, and things have only gotten worse over that time, in direct contrast to the party's stranglehold on state politics.  This movement to push back against their ideological extremists is a noble bid for survival and relevance.  Some of them are smart enough to glimpse the future and are rightly scared about it.

I became a Republican myself in 1974, when I heard Reagan speak at a banquet I worked as a 16-year-old busboy-promoted-to-waiter in Beaumont, TX.  I stayed a Republican until Clayton Williams ran for governor against Ann Richards in 1990 (I lived in Midland at the time, Ground Zero for witnessing the carnage of William's political seppuku).  I haven't been anywhere near the party in the twenty-four years since for easily discernible reasons, among them that they have only coarsened in the years since Claytie's rape joke -- meaner, more obnoxious, more fascist, and more irrelevant to people's daily lives.

Any movement by Republicans to try to pull their party away from the right and back to the center (in other words, to the left) is something I cannot oppose.  So I wish Judge Emmett and Mr. Simpson well in their endeavor and will watch these developments closely.

I have no idea -- and frankly don't care -- if Simpson is who Emmett thinks he is, or if he can accomplish what he says.  That isn't what matters at this point.  He's got to get elected first.

And to that end, this small internecine skirmish in the grand scheme is a little ripple in a big pond.  The overarching point is that America actually benefits from a sane Republican Party, if for no other reason than such a development would force the Democratic Party to keep practicing kaizen by trending left, an encouraging development in and of itself.

So I'll wish them luck because it's an extremely tough task they have ahead.  If they lose, the GOP keeps hurtling down the road to extinction (that's not necessarily bad if you're a Blue-ish-Green partisan like I am today, but "devil-you-know" and all that).  In the meantime -- if you're a conservative that doesn't like one of the two factions of the GOP, be it moderate or extreme -- you might consider going to see Gary Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee, speak in Austin, Houston, or San Antonio next week.

The most influence to be had by voters dissatisfied with the lesser of two options is to help a third voice grow louder.  That is the most effective protest vote a person can cast.

Update: Holly Jolly is a little puffed up over this post, but what's noteworthy is the careful drawing of his toe across the sand between the two conservative factions, who sound ready to go at each others' throats.  First, from Woodfill's e-mail, firing back against Simpson.

Judge Robert Eckels, Commissioners Cagle, Morman, and Tax Assessor Mike Sullivan ENDORSE Jared Woodfill

It’s unanimous – conservative county leadership only trusts one man to continue leading the Harris County Republican Party (HCRP) – Jared Woodfill.  Why change what works? Conservative leaders like Woodfill do not come often, and there is a reason he has served longer than any other predecessor – he does the right thing, and he does the right thing effectively.

What is significant here is that Jolly himself has called out Woodfill for his leadership of the party and supported challengers Simpson and Ed Hubbard against Woodfill in the past.  Apparently not this time, though.

For anyone that thinks yesterday’s sloppy release of Ed Emmett’s endorsement of Paul Simpson was a game changer, think again. Communication skills are arguably the biggest part of the Chairs job in the HCRP and Jared Woodfill excels at that portion of the job.

If you are a conservative Republican, and most Harris County Republicans are conservative, which lead do you follow? It was a huge mistake for the Simpson campaign to give talking points to the left media and bloggers in their attempt to oust the chair of the very conservative Harris County Republican Party.

This much I know: cheerleading for Simpson and Emmett from far-left vulgar bloggers isn’t going to help their cause. And advice from moderate Republicans to disavow social issues will, if heeded, result in losing elections and destroy the party. There is a balance that must be maintained between all factions of our coalition – dropping any of the factions is bad advice.

Dave: for the record, nobody who is a Republican -- with the notable exception of Burt Levine -- has ever given me anything but shit, just like you.  (But hey, thanks for the traffic!)

Moderates versus Tea Party.  The country clubbers against the kooks.  It's going to be fun watching them sort themselves out.


Gadfly said...

Saw Johnson when he was Da Gov and I edited a small weekly paper in New Mexico. He's a straight shooter, and a much more principled, non-racist libertarian than Ron Paul.

He can still occasionally be batshit crazy, but still.

Greg said...

The thing is, it isn't (as you put it) "country-clubbers vs. kooks". It is more ideologues vs. realists. That Reagan graphic in my post on this reflects my beliefs going back 35 years -- politics is about coalitions of folks who agree on most things, because relying on only 100%ers is a recipe for defeat. Sadly, there are too many in positions of power within the HCRP who do not believe that and who want to put the 80%ers and 90%ers outside of the Party or relegate them to a subordinate position.

Now I like Jared Woodfill. I suspect you would too, if you met him. But the fact that I like him does not mean I believe he is the right guy to be leading our part right now. Paul Simpson is every bit as conservative as Jared is -- but he's going to follow that Reagan quote in a way that Jared (or, more accurately, Jared's allies) has failed to.

After all, when a 97% ACU rated senator like John Cornyn is not good enough for some Republicans because he disagreed on strategy with a slightly more conservative colleague, we have a problem -- especially when that faction thinks Steve Stockman is the answer.