“Together We Attack!: Why My Compromise Should Be Approved by State Central”
I played college basketball, though play is a bit of an overstatement. The most accurate description of my college basketball career was “seldom-used guard;” and I wasn’t a point guard or shooting guard so much as I guarded the water cooler during games. I enjoyed time outs because it gave me a chance to stand up and stretch my legs during games. When our team broke the huddle after time outs, our coach had us put our hands together. He would say, “Together!” and we would respond by saying, “We attack!” Yes, this post is actually about politics.
We had a very good small college team during my sophomore year. We had great senior leadership from guys that were getting professional looks, and promising young talent that could give good minutes when called upon. We got out to a great start, and we were openly talking about the NCAA tournament. We ate lunch together, dinner together, and socialized together. But then something happened, and we started losing games, and we started pointing fingers, and then finger pointing became outright fistfights. The team broke into factions, and players on one side of the team actually wouldn’t pass the ball to players on the other faction. A team that looked poised to coast to the NCAA tournament fell apart before Christmas, and that talented group of younger players began quitting the team…and that’s the connection to politics, and it’s why SCC should pass my proposed compromise. When teams, or political parties, feud, fight, freeze each other out, they lose. They lose, and people start finding other things to do with their lives. When teams cultivate the talent, rely on experienced leadership, put in the hard work, and play their roles, they win. I have been on a few losing teams, and one hell of a lot of winning teams, and I can assure you that winning is a whole lot better than losing. Just take my word on this.
I have offered a compromise to nominate our Presidential candidates through a primary in 2016, and our Governor through a convention in 2017. That plan is receiving a considerable level of support, and these are the reasons why.
My compromise is ideologically neutral. We can litigate the merits and demerits of each process on Facebook all day and all night, and it won’t be resolved. We’ve won using both processes, but more recently we’ve lost using both. Elections are not won or lost based on process. They are won based on a combination of great candidates, with strong issues, who can attract more and more volunteers, and who can win over the public. That’s it. Stretching back into the last decade, both sides have tried to select nomination methods to get certain nominees. We need to stop doing that, and put our energy into making sure that the nominees that do emerge have the people in place they need to win. I set up my compromise for a primary and then convention for the reason that, in 2017, the convention winner is our nominee. In 2016 Virginia has no control over whether our winner will be the nominee, because forty-nine other states think their votes count, too. My compromise is not ideologically-driven at all. It is simply mired in political reality.
My compromise allows RPV to build an electoral infrastructure. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Well, RPV has some scarce resources. We have just over $20,000 cash on hand, and that’s offset by $188,000 in debt, plus continuing payroll obligations. We have creditors that need to be paid. The pro-convention group says that the convention will be a financial windfall. I want to believe them, but the financing will not be there to put on a convention. We already owe money to other people (Westfields Marriott) that have hosted our events. Rather than putting our money into a convention, and rather than having RPV staff do convention planning, or RPV volunteers do convention planning, let’s deploy our resources better. Let’s have our volunteers focus on campaigning for our 2015 candidates and connecting with their preferred presidential candidates now. Let’s allow the RPV staff to start putting together the statewide infrastructure, so that whoever our eventual nominee is will be able to inherit a ready-made statewide election organization. Let’s allow the Party to put themselves in better financial standing by putting their money into fundraising efforts, paying down debts, etc. This compromise frees up resources, human and financial, and those resources are deployed at their highest value right now if RPV has a free hand to build their infrastructure and balance its balance sheet.
My compromise sends a message that RPV has prioritized winning over all else. The people on both sides of this debate are honest about their preferences for convention or primary. These folks have been party loyalists. They have given their time and their money to this party. Quite honestly, I’m tired of seeing the leaders of both camps getting torn down. The problem isn’t with them or their preferences, on either side. The problem is just that the debate has consumed all of the energy of the party. Debates over process have drained us of energy and bled off our volunteers, and our financial resources. (We just can’t deny the financial condition of the party.) My compromise ends that debate for two years. That’s two years of prioritizing winning elections over process debates. Winning cures a lot of ills. When you’re part of a winning team, you feel good, you build relationships, you see value in your time. Winning cures a lot of ills. (Repetition intentional.)
It’s not the debate over process, in the end, that is bleeding us. It’s the losing. People just don’t want to be part of losing teams and losing causes. They want to win. I want to win. Let’s just call a truce on the process debate for two years and see how far we can get as a party when elections become our top priority again. We owe it to our candidates to give them the environment they need to win elections. But more than that, we owe it to ourselves. Let’s call a truce on the fighting and see what we can become when we stop dividing ourselves over process, and start working together on winning.
My compromise brings resources off the sideline. I will make two promises to you. First, if we select my compromise, RPV will see an influx in donations, especially from corporate donors. Businesses (and high-dollar individuals) invest money when they get a return, and in politics that return is winning. They aren’t shutting us out because of our process, and they aren’t shutting us out because of our candidates. They have shut us out because our infighting has been keeping our candidates from winning. Our fighting has created a difficult environment for our nominees to win. Businesses will donate if we pass my compromise because we will have shown we can make the big decision for the greater good of the party. Adopting my compromise will show that RPV has prioritized winning, and the first evidence we’ll have of that change is a substantial increase in giving to RPV directly. The proof will be there. I’m asking you to put your trust in me that the money will come, and come earlier in the calendar, if we do this.
My compromise has made people feel good about politics. If you’re reading this article, you likely can write a rebuttal to this article that lists every grievance you’ve had against a fellow Republican and why you could never give that person’s side a win. And this compromise does indeed give the other side a win. But it also gives your side a win, and if it works, in November 2016 and 2017 it will give every Republican in Virginia a win. We just have not had enough elections where we’ve had wins. Our meetings have polarized a lot of people, created hard feelings, and chased people out. Honestly, aren’t you just ready to turn away from that brand of politics? Aren’t you ready to constructively work with your fellow Republicans? Aren’t you ready to spend more time working to have your preferred candidate elected than spending your energy fighting over political process? I have had so many people e-mail me, and text, and call, just to say that they are ready to re-engage if my compromise goes through. They want to come back into the fold, on both sides, because they believe in small government and personal freedom so deeply. They just are tired of being beat up in these battles over other people’s fights for party control. We have two options: squeeze our fist tighter to get a stronger grip on party control, or open our hand and welcome people in. We’ve tried fist tightening, and we’ve lost elections. Let’s open our hands in fellowship and welcome people in.
Sports and politics make for great analogies. When you fight in practice, or fight in intra-party activities, you lose to your actual opponents. But when you win, you make deeper and deeper sacrifices to keep winning, because winning feels so good. The time has come for us to sacrifice our preferred processes for the chance to win. In November 2016, we’ll be meeting Hillary Clinton on the court, and we can win this game if “Together we attack!”
Chip Muir is the 3rd district Rep on Virginia’s Republican State Central Committee and is the Chairman of the Republican Committee of Richmond