To my readers, acquaintances and friends who are involved with Colorado Republican politics, whether as participants or spectators:
The last couple of weeks have seen the Colorado Republican Party organize the most remarkable circular firing squad I’ve ever seen, even for an organization famous for them. I haven’t been a Republican for quite a few years and I have no particular love for the GOP but whenever a Democrat gets elected I feel as if something bad just happened to my children. So I have a more than passing interest in the party’s effectiveness even if I won’t get involved in its operations – or machinations – because it seems so full of people who do what so many have done during the last 14 days.
So let’s discuss what has been achieved:
Here is my theory on what has happened and is happening, and I’m going to make this a fairly short summary of an annoyingly long saga:
For various reasons, some of which were reasonable and pertinent, some of which were petty and self-serving, some of which may have been based on real information and some of which may have been based on the echo chamber of small groups talking to each other and reinforcing rumors or misperceptions, a few party leaders decided to confront the party chairman and push him to resign.
Since I have not yet heard of a high-level meeting to discuss issues related to the chairman’s job performance prior to the meeting at which it was suggested that he resign, I assume at this point that the chairman’s critics did not have the basic sense to sit down with him in a serious but less confrontational manner, aiming to spur well-considered and agreed-upon change rather than risk complete chaos. I do not know whether to ascribe this to an overwhelming Machiavellianism or an utter lack of common sense and management ability. Probably all of the above.
As for the chairman, he has harmed himself by a combination of poor management and particularly poor communication – although he must also be given credit for significant achievements and progress in Party fund-raising and focus on other important issues relating to political competitiveness and narrowing the party’s technological disadvantage. He was also the first person to mention the word “affair” publicly, although it’s possible that doing so was a reasonable tactic if he assumed someone else would shortly make the same accusation for all the world to hear. The fact that he might have reasonably assumed such a thing (and regardless of whether the accusation is true) says a lot – and none of it good – about other party members involved in this fiasco.
Unless the chairman’s personal life is impacting his job performance, which has not been demonstrated to any credible degree, it is personal. I’m sure you, like I, have your own opinions as to what is true and what isn’t, but since the chairman’s original critics have said that it wasn’t the reason for their dissatisfaction with the chairman, it is all the more unfortunate that this aspect of the story received so much attention.
Over the past two weeks, there has been a remarkable amount of rumor-mongering and spreading of misinformation – although I believe that many of the people who were doing so actually believed what they were saying. We’ve also seen, I repeat for emphasis, the destruction of friendships and alliances.
On Friday, the party’s Executive Committee voted 22-1 to support the chairman, and also to support the leading elected official among his critics – two people who until two weeks ago were good friends – after requiring that their committee meeting focus on job performance and not on personal issues. I commend them for what seems to be a concerted effort to tamp down the chaos and to return the Colorado Republican Party to something more disciplined than an 8th-grade slumber party. I’m glad we finally saw some adult supervision.
Looking forward, with some tough love:
I have said publicly that I think the chairman should resign; I would like to slightly modify but not entirely retract that sentiment. First, the current chairman does have an important skill set and seems to have had success in fund-raising, one of the most important functions of that job. It is unfair to him and to the party, and unwise of both as well, to have him in roles other than those at which he has a comparative advantage in ability. For those other party functions, another senior leader should be hired, much as corporations tend to have a CEO and a COO. He must aim to under-promise and over-deliver; the opposite is a career-ending mode of operation for an executive. Second, if the chairman were to leave his apparently thankless (and pro bono) job, I hope there will be an orderly transition and that a replacement will be chosen based on competence and not on internecine factional bickering. If the current chairman is not interested in doing what he’s good at and leaving someone else to manage other aspects of the operation – though he should be given an opportunity to demonstrate the ability to incorporate criticism of a more constructive sort than he’s been presented with publicly so far – he should resign or be removed.
The attorney general should minimize contact with day-to-day or week-to-week operations of the political party; the job of the state’s top law enforcement officer requires a credible (and real) apolitical reputation. Should pursuit of higher office become more of a front-burner issue for the attorney general, a proper balance will need to be determined.
I am aware of some people who for whatever reason do not want to let this story subside, particularly the personal aspects of it. I encourage those who are considering exposing “evidence” about a particular aspect of the story to sit down, shut up, and move on with their lives. Stop acting as if you’re auditioning for a role in “Mean Girls.” Nothing good can be achieved by such actions and, as Buddha once said (or maybe not), karma is a bitch. To the extent that you think some petty political goal (and I absolutely guarantee you that your goal is petty) could be achieved by harming the chairman personally, think about who else you’d be affecting. How would you like someone to mess with your family over a minor political squabble? If any of you are friends or advisers of people who are considering going down this road, I urge you to urge them to think better of it.
For those of you who have willingly torpedoed friendships and alliances over this situation, shame on you. Friendships are among the most valuable things you will ever possess. Discarding a likely future ally over temporary and nearly meaningless political infighting borders on the insane. And you wonder why the GOP is “the stupid party” and why liberals find it so much easier than they should to win elections? Frankly, this aspect of the last two weeks has angered me more than any other.
The behavior of the Executive Committee on Friday was the first important step toward what I hope will be a return, not just to what has in recent years passed for normal in the Colorado Republican Party, but to some time perhaps long ago forgotten (if it ever actually existed) when the organization was mostly disciplined, mostly unified, and mostly trained their political fire on the common adversary: the leftists who steal our freedom, our wealth, and our children’s futures.
I repeat: The behavior of all four people in that fateful meeting two weeks ago – and of their most publicly vocal Republican supporters and detractors in the days since – has imperiled everything they claim to care about in pursuit of the pettiest of tribal infighting. For that you owe a lot of people your heartfelt repentance and a heroic effort to undo the damage you’ve done (not least to yourselves) and change the way you operate, both in public and in private.
Reforming the party is a perfectly valid goal. But those who continue with self-serving destruction of individuals and of the only organization with a real likelihood of slowing down their real political opponents (i.e. Democrats and their masters in government employee unions) deserve public shaming and our enduring ire. I can assure you they will have mine.