Tuesday, January 16, 2007

State Party Sets a Tone

The Illinois Republican Party's State Central Committee evoked cheers and jeers last Saturday by formally calling on National Committeeman Bob Kjellander to resign and by suspending the ability of two organizations, the Republican Assembly of Lake County (RALC) and the Forum of Independents and Republicans of Schaumburg Township (FIRST), from using the name, 'Republican', in official documents.

Both actions may be largely symbolic. Kjellander insists he will not resign regardless of who calls for it. While FIRST has been quiet, the RALC and its supporters have been screaming about the rebuke. Unless the State Republican Party is prepared to file suit for infractions, there is probably little recourse against either organization continuing to use the word 'Republican' in general usage.

But that is not to say the party's actions are futile. In the course of the meeting, Chairman Andy McKenna announced he will form a Republican Study Group to help chart a course for the future. He plans to appoint members to this group from various existing activist groups and officials from around the state. The idea is to expand the party's outreach and develop a plan that engages all authentically Republican groups, so as to begin healing the fissures that have so damaged the party in recent years. McKenna also indicated he plans to rely much more heavily on the Republican County Chairmans' Assn. than the party has in the past.

This is a very good development. The Republican Party was being hollowed out in the many years the State Central Committee was treated as a mere figurehead body to be manipulated by shadowy power brokers. Astute observers were able to predict the demise of the party a decade ago just based on that fact. A political organization that operates exclusively from the top down is an organization that is headed for a fall, no matter how powerful it seems. A political organization that works effectively from the bottom up is on the road to recovery, no matter how weak it seems. If these become genuine task forces, rather than pr task forces, the party is genuinely on the road to recovery.

Yet if the party is to expand its outreach in a divided time, it is appropriate (perhaps even vital) for the party to establish what is and is not acceptable behavior.
Whether or not he has done anything wrong, Kjellander has become as much the poster boy for Republican profiteering politics as Gov. Rod Blagojevich is for Democrats. His continued presence in a high level role almost certainly damages Republican fortunes in Illinois. In fact, the high level role he is playing in Mitt Romney's campaign for president significantly reduces Romney's chances of winning the Illinois primary.

The penchant of FIRST and RALC to spend their time working the politics of the grudge against fellow Republicans damages Republican chances in general wherever they operate. (Full disclosure - I had been a member of the RALC for the last two years. I allowed my membership to lapse this year. Though I agree with the organization's written principles, its principle officers seem obsessed with accomplishing through various forms of litigation what they can't accomplish at the ballot box - and that usually translates into far more attacks on fellow Republicans than on Democrats).

The fact is if you want to get a demolition crew all you have to do is hang around any street corner and you'll find plenty of qualified people in short order. If you want to find architects and a construction crew you'll have to spend a little more time and be a lot more picky. We already have more than enough people on Republican demolition crews. The State Party did well in establishing that what we want is a committed construction crew.

Cross-posted at www.illinoisreview.typepad.com

3 comments:

Anonymous,  9:02 PM  

Completely agree. It used to be the Republican Party would look squeaky clean in comparison to the Cook County Dems. Recent scandals, involving some prominent Republican congressmen and former Gov. Ryan have eroded that image (and think bad it has had to be in order to even out the playing field).

The other big issue has been the in-fighting. I am a conservative, through and through, but the problem that has hit some Republican groups, is the same that the Dems have struggled with nationally - instead of being productive, coming up with new and bright ideas, and bringing forward new and bright candidates, some groups have been busy attempting an inquisition.

What they fail to realize is if you build the party with your people, the other problems will take care of themselves.

Anonymous,  10:44 PM  

Republicans should be fighting tooth and nail to oppose the State's unconstitutional restriction on their right of freedom of association, which implies the right not to associate!

CTA Bus Status

WMAQ Chicago NBC 5 Video News Feed

There was an error in this gadget

  © Blogger template The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP