Virginia Republican Committeeman Morton Blackwell has issued a letter to his fellow RNC members in which he lays out the case for repealing the rules changes made at the 2012 RNC convention in Tampa. At the time, these rule changes were viewed as a nefarious power grab on the part of the Romney campaign and the move was vigorously, if unsuccessfully, opposed by Virginia’s convention delegation. Here’s the text of Blackwell’s most recent letter:
Dear RNC Colleague,
On January 13, I submitted to our Chairman and our Secretary the below motion to amend The Rules of the Republican Party.
In the years before our 2012 Republican National Convention, the RNC’s Standing Committee on Rules (one member per state and territory) met to consider possible changes to The Rules of the Republican Party each time the RNC met. That Committee, one third of our RNC members, worked diligently, debated carefully every proposed amendment, reviewed its years of work at its meeting in Tampa, and adopted a report to send to the whole RNC for its consideration.
Some of the proposed rules changes incorporated in the report of the Standing Committee on Rules were intended to open additional channels by which power in the RNC could flow more easily from the bottom up. The deliberations of the Standing Committee were productive. Acting independently, members of the Standing Committee generally agreed that it’s a good idea to increase the opportunities for power at the RNC to flow from the bottom up.
The report of the Standing Committee on Rules was presented to the full RNC, which frequently in the past has exercised its right to amend its Standing Committee’s report before sending it on to the Convention Rules Committee for consideration. Then the Convention Rules Committee’s report is submitted to the national convention for its consideration.
In 2012, the RNC opted not to amend the report of its Standing Committee on Rules, which was not considered very controversial in the Standing Committee or in the full RNC. So the Republican National Committee unanimously approved its Standing Committee report and forwarded that report to the Convention Rules Committee.
The next day, in the Convention Rules Committee, Ben Ginsberg, a Convention Rules Committee member from D.C., representing himself as the spokesman for the Romney campaign, began to propose amendments to the report from the RNC. First, he systematically submitted amendments to reverse the few and useful changes adopted by the Standing Committee and the full RNC to open up slightly the flow of power from the bottom up in the RNC. Then he supported a number of brand new amendments to increase the centralization of power in the RNC.
Although some members of the Convention Rules Committee strongly objected to Ben Ginsberg’s obviously centralizing power grabs, most members of that committee went along with everything he wanted. After all, he was presumed to be speaking for the candidate we were about to nominate for President.
You will recall, however, the immense, immediate outrage at the convention and from the grassroots against the Ginsberg power grabs. The national convention’s consideration of the Convention Rules Committee report was a uniquely ugly scene. What Ben Ginsberg did was particularly foolish because none of the changes he pushed would in any way help us win the coming presidential election. All he accomplished regarding the 2012 election was to make grassroots conservatives fiercely angry at the Romney campaign. Of course, if Mitt Romney had been elected in November, there was no chance at all that he would have trouble with the Republican National Committee. No Republican President fails to get exactly what he wants from the RNC. In sum, the power grabs were a stupid move, and our Party is still suffering the consequences.
Grassroots conservatives and libertarians have and use many social media networks. They can communicate instantly and for free. Since the national convention and to this day, there is vigorous condemnation of our national Party for Ginsberg’s power grabs, which eliminated non-controversial reforms and deliberately (and unnecessarily) centralized our party even more. A lot of this criticism is directed personally at Reince Priebus.
This criticism of our party and our chairman makes it much harder to do what we have to do, which is to attract more newcomers and build a superior grassroots election organization for 2014 and beyond.
Instead of further centralizing the Republican Party, we should welcome newcomers and treat them fairly, politely, and cordially. What good is it to centralize power if doing so prevents us from recruiting new grassroots activists to our Party and building an organization which can win future elections?
I happen to train thousands of conservative newcomers every year for success in politics. I know that, if passed, my motion to “de-Ginsberg” our party rules will be greeted enthusiastically by newcomers we want to join us in our efforts to defeat the plans President Obama and his leftist allies are wreaking on our country.
A record vote on my motion would let everyone know where each of us stands on this matter.
Virginia Republican National Committeeman
For folks outside the party tent, this all seems rather arcane. But aside from Clint Eastwood’s speech at the convention, and the possibility that a hurricane might cancel the whole show, the rules change was really the only other event that caused a stir in Tampa.
Whether Blackwell is able to rally the rest of the Republican committee members to his side remains an open question. However, he stands a good chance of doing so, if for no other reason than it will represent a cleansing of Mitt Romney from the Republican script.