Dealing With Party Divisiveness – Idaho GOP Case Study

The Idaho Republican Party made national news last week when their state convention ended in contentious chaos, with a third of the delegates not seated, no platform passed, and no election on party leadership. While the story itself may be of greater interest in the Gem State, the lessons that can be learned apply nationally, as other states work through the divisiveness that is prevalent within the GOP today.

With the convention ending in obvious disarray, having conducted no business, the natural tendency is to presume a comparable state of disorganization within the Republican movement. That would be an erroneous assumption. Party principles and tenets are still in place, and an existing platform (albeit laboriously and tediously lengthy) is still in place; only the leadership is in question, which will likely be resolved presently. The real question seems to be where the fractious Party goes from here.

All the cards for the convention seemed to have been held by the Credentials Committee, which was stacked with ideologues, last week as they opted to not seat several county delegations for the convention. Ada County’s delegation was disallowed because of perceived irregularities in the selection of delegates. Power County’s delegates were not seated primarily because of a change in the meeting schedule and timing issues. And Bannock County’s delegation was not seated because one person complained to the Committee about how the delegation was selected (legally) with one motion, rather than individual nominations, and a claim that he was discriminated against.

The result of eliminating over a third of the delegates who had made the long trek to Moscow was divisive and acerbic from day one. The proceedings, having been tainted from the start, left little hope of deescalating tensions and getting down to business.

Convention Chairman and 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador said after the unproductive convention, “This is as low as the party can go. We have hit bottom. I think the party has no choice but to go up from here.” Whether Labrador’s comments prove true or not is up to the individuals and the various factions fighting for supremacy within the Party. If they individually and collectively continue to perceive those who agree with them 80% of the time as their “enemies,” the organization may not have yet hit bottom.

But if the members and various factions realize that the alternative to comity, mutual respect, and cooperation with one another is lost elections, resulting in more of a drift to the left of the political spectrum, the bottom may well have been observed last week. Each person who is active within the Party has a part to play in how this pans out. I would hope that maturity, a sense of shared values, and a desire to do what’s right for the state and its citizens would trump the pettiness and intransigent conduct of those who insist theirs is the only way to do things.

There are two major organizational components to this internal struggle: those who have been in the trenches for years advancing the conservative cause, and the relative neophytes who have emerged as part of the tea party movement and the “Ron Paul Revolution.”

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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