The removal of RPV Chairman Jeff Frederick yesterday is the culmination of several years of Republican infighting between conservative and moderate activists over which side is to blame for the string of defeats that Virginia’s GOP has suffered at the ballot box. Both sides blame the other for the Party’s woes and, as the losses mount, each has become increasingly entrenched in their respective positions. What they have all sadly failed to realize is that it is precisely this reaction, the uncompromising attempt to assign blame and sever the guilty members from the Party, that has precipitated the Republican march to Minority.
Conservatives argue that recent losses are a sign that Republicans have abandoned their principles. They claim that the GOP has strayed from its roots and must return to the days when socially conservative Democrats and independents were persuaded to join our cause to fight against the decay of traditional faith, family, and community values. They are right.
Moderates view recent failures as proof that the Party has become too ideological. They claim that the GOP has strayed from its roots and must return to the days when fiscally conservative business leaders were persuaded to join our cause to fight against liberal meddling that proposed to send our fragile economy into further despair with higher taxes and more onerous regulation. They are right.
The point is that no one person or group of persons has a monopoly on what ideas or objectives are right for our Party. Indeed, that is the very purpose of a Party organization to begin with, to allow all ideas to be thrown into the pot, stirred around, and to allow the best ones to rise to the top. Sadly, that process seems to have been interrupted by bickering over who gets to do the stirring.
What is most damaging and destructive to our Party now is the unyielding certainty of each faction that they are right, that no one else can be right, and that everyone else is determined to exclude them from the process. As 6th District Chair Fred Anderson was quoted in the Roanoke Times saying after yesterday’s meeting, the issue is “In a word — trust.”
It is unfortunate that things have come to this point. It is true that there are some who never wanted Jeff Frederick as Chair. It is equally true that there are some who would have supported him no matter what the evidence. However, I think that many of those involved in this process have been somewhere in the middle, struggling with the recognition that our Party must change in order to reverse our electoral fortunes, but uncertain if Frederick is the person capable of bringing about those changes that will be best for the Party.
In the end the vote was not close. While procedurally, Frederick was one vote away from retaining his seat, the fact that Frederick had lost the confidence of roughly 3/4 of the State Central Committee makes the reality of the situation much different. I hope that Frederick and his supporters will understand this and will now seek to become part of a larger solution. I also hope that those who voted to remove Frederick realize that doing so does not eliminate all of the problems facing RPV.
Nothing will be solved until we can repair the trust within the Republican Party, until we begin to work together again in good faith to achieve our shared objectives. We are fortunate to have excellent candidates for statewide office this year. We must start working together now to ensure that they are elected. So long as we continue to impute bad motives to anyone in our Party who disagrees with us, we will only give the Democrats more opportunities to elect their candidates and pursue their objectives. I hope that we can agree that none of us desires to see that happen.
I encourage everyone to let this be an opportunity for us as Republicans to open our dialogue with one another, find common ground and move forward to victory. The future of our Party, our Commonwealth and our Nation are too important to allow petty differences to keep us on the sidelines.