The politics of personal destruction aka the GOP circular firing squad

Republican elephantPower and ambition can be an intoxicating cocktail in politics.

It’s 9:30 Friday night and I just got off the phone with someone in Republican politics that I have respected and worked with in the past.

We were part of RPV’s Media Committee in 2009-10, working to better communications for the Republican Party of Virginia. I was chairman of the blogger committee. He was techie everything. We had a common goal: we worked together to advance and support Republicans.

We worked the 2009 RPV Convention when delegates elected Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli to be our top three candidates.

In November, we overwhelmingly swept all three top spots: Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. We rejoiced.

In December we went to the Republican Advance in Williamsburg where we held a post-election New Media seminar in the auditorium that was packed and standing room only.

He worked the technical part.

I moderated the panel of five young Republicans who had been instrumental in the communication side of our three-way Republican sweep. Our brightest and best.

The seminar was a smashing success, and many said they learned much by hearing from our panel that included Tucker Martin, Vincent Harris, Krystal Weeks, Ford O’Connell, and Jason Kenney.

Throughout the years we worked Bloggers Row at Republican events: Republican Round-ups, Eric Cantor’s Breakfast (here and here), Advance events including debates.

And then the party split.

We began bickering. The bloodbath that had been avoided in 2009 was now in full swing. Egos got in the way as one candidate leap-frogged over another, going against his word and tearing the party apart at the seams.

And we began losing.

Politics is a winner’s game.

The winner reaches out and pulls in the losing opponent. And the opponent’s supporters.

That never happened in 2013. The winner changed the rules of the game, then left the opponent’s supporters out in the cold. And that is where we are to this day. On top of that, the “winner” lost in the general election.

The fragile state of a split party weakened the infrastructure and allowed others to come in, and they began taking over with the help of the winner and his supporters who had lost the general.

As a result, the opponent’s supporters were kicked out one by one by one. Years of institutional knowledge, volunteering, leadership, and financial donations — gone. Kicked to the curb. And when those who were thrown to the curb fell to the ground, many were then kicked in the ribs.

My friend from the media committee is on that side of the battle. And that brings us to the hit piece on his blog on Friday that led to this post. Thinking back about the past, it made me shake my head at how things have gotten where they are. My friend’s blog using anonymous sources that everyone knows can and usually are made up. False rumors without a response from the subject of the blog who, incidentally, is up for reelection for his state central seat on Saturday. There was no interview with the slandered party, no opportunity to respond.

It’s a Machiavellian approach that Republicans are using against Republicans.

Will we ever reunite the party? Not under the leadership espoused by my friend. But there are many within the party who believe in the Reagan “80 percent” philosophy, and who believe in working together.

The subject of this 11th hour hit piece — the one who was not given the opportunity to respond — is one of them. He has worked fairly and tirelessly with all sides, putting in hours and hours of time. His respectful approach to those who have differing opinions is an example to aspire to, not to crush. He believes that just because we disagree doesn’t make someone our enemy. He believes we need to focus on the party because we have far too much to do … we need to row in the same direction … root for the same team.

Our party is losing. We need to win. We haven’t won a statewide race in five years. This man has been winning for Virginia Republicans since the 1990s. Yet, to my media committee friend, he’s the enemy.

I would like to see the day when the party stops ambushing each other. We will not survive otherwise.

UPDATE: I’m happy to say the eleventh-hour hit piece did not work.

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One thought on “The politics of personal destruction aka the GOP circular firing squad

  1. James N. Bridgeman says:

    I am a relative newcomer to engaging in the political scene, but I see the division, not only in the Republican Party, and Democratic Party , but nationally. And Donald Trump is the poster boy for this division. There is a lot of anger about Washington, and the do-nothing politicians. The sentiment seems to be “throw them all out and start over”. If they can’t get it done, maybe someone else can figure it out, maybe even a woman. This seems to empower people who have never held public office. The electorate is conned into believing that someone different, not someone better, is what we need. At first glance, this even seems reasonable, until one analyzes the situation.
    President Obama was a Washington “outsider” in the sense that he never figured out how a Democracy works. First, the government must be in good fiscal health which requires a balanced budget. (We have not had a budget in the last eight years.) (The #1 priority of the Republican Party in 2016 is a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.) Without a budget, some issues are difficult to properly address, others are impossible. In the last eight years Congress has spent countless trying to manage one crisis after another caused by the absence of a budget. The constant distraction and the lack of time meant Congress was unable to focus its attention on other important issues.
    Second, President Obama never figured out that a Democracy works best when all the branches work together. President Obama forged ahead with his personal agenda, using Congress when it was controlled by Democrats, (Obamacare was passed without a single Republican vote.) and used executive action in the later years of his term. (The Iran deal was implemented without the Senate even taking one vote. (Loyal Senate Democrats blocked the Senate from taking a vote.)
    If Congress had been filled with politicians, or inexperienced lawmakers, do you think they could have kept things from deteriorating more than they did?
    The Republican Party is now poised to nominate Donald Trump, who knows nothing about how to be a government executive, nothing about to work with Congress, nothing about government finances, and doesn’t have the trust, respect, or support of the majority of Americans. In short, Donald Trump knows far less than President Obama knew when he took office. Can we afford to give our next President four years of on-the-job training? Would America survive?
    In past years, the nominee has had a positive approval rating. In 2016, both presumptive nominees have negative approval ratings(These ratings are even worse than President Obama’s worse rating as President!) The Republican convention has always had an unwritten rule: The nominee will be “electable”, will have the trust, respect, and support of the American people. (A President cannot function otherwise.) Prior to 2016, such a rule was assumed and was unnecessary. In 2016, the rule needs to be “written” and enforced.
    To “fix” Washington, we need to start at the top with a true statesman as President; one who has the skills and experience-in-government to lead this nation; one who knows how a Democracy works from the inside; one who knows that the engine of government requires fuel supplied by experienced lawmakers, and oil supplied by a balanced budget.
    We need Ohio Governor – John Kasich.
    The 2016 Republican convention controls the future of America. If they nominate Donald Trump, then, after a vicious, nasty campaign focused on individuals, Hillary Clinton will probably be our next President. If they nominate John Kasich, then, after a positive campaign focused on the issues and the future of America, John Kasich will be our next President. I hope the 2016 Republican convention will make the choice which is best for America’s future.

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