Power 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.