Originally published in the Jacksonville Observer
There are some folks who think you can say you are a member of a political party and attack your own party’s candidates during an election. I disagree.
We have a multiparty system in this country. Not a two-party system as some would say, for anyone can form a party. If you don’t like the one you are in, you can find another.
The preferred method of gaining political power is to organize the voters and deliver them to the polls on Election Day. You do this by first committing to organize your neighbors and your friends. This means you talk to each one and find out who agrees with you politically, and work on convincing those who don’t. You ask them if they will vote with you when it is time to vote.
The next step is to organize your block, and get someone to agree to be a block captain who will find those who agree with you politically, and work on convincing those who don’t. Then you organize the next block, and so forth. After that you organize a phone chain or email list or text message blast, or twitter group of the voters who agree with you politically. None of this requires that you belong to a political party.
If you are a true believer and totally committed, eventually you will have organized so many blocks and friends and email addresses that you will be able to marshal all the voters in a precinct or maybe in several precincts to go and vote with you. At some point somebody decides to hold a meeting. When you get up to the size where you become a viable recognized party the objective is simple: Elect your people at every level to every office so that your program will be implemented, and your members will be hired for all non-elected positions so your program will be supported.
What is required now is for you to maintain party discipline. How is this done? You have to control who the candidate is. It is essential that the candidate is someone who agrees with your members politically, because if they don’t it is nearly impossible to get everyone in the group to support and vote for the candidate. This is where in my opinion the major parties have fallen down on the job.
Candidates should be vetted and approved by the local precincts in the executive committees before they even dare run in a primary. They should be known quantities, not only by the rich and powerful, but by the rank and file. It is the rank and file through their representatives at the Executive committee who should choose the candidate, because they are the ones who will make phone calls, give money, walk precincts, and vote for the candidate. The primary should be a contest between two well-vetted candidates.
Nevertheless even if the party has fallen down on its responsibilities to keep ideology pure, maintain consensus, and properly vet candidates it is the responsibility of the member to work within the party to set it right, and to work to elect party candidates. If you cannot do that the only honorable thing to do is to resign and go somewhere else. You cannot claim to be for the party, and then work against it.
No one is more critical of the process and candidates than I, and as all know I am merciless with elected officials of our party. During the primary season I go about as a raging bear. But, after the primary process is over, I know that our candidate is the best candidate that the Republican Party has been able to produce. The alternative, usually a Socialist Democrat is absolutely unacceptable.
Election time is a time for unity. I will wait to criticize Republicans after they are elected and in a position to do something about it, and they will hear me because I have done whatever I can to support them with my time, my money and my vote. If I absolutely abhor a candidate, I will shut my mouth because voting for him is still better than voting for a Democrat. I will go and work for another Republican candidate I do like. When Republicans win, the Party wins and we move closer to our goal of establishing republican philosophy and practice in government here and in Washington.
All men are imperfect. But as Ben Franklin said “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” The people on the other side are presently seeking our fortunes, but it seems to me that if they become firmly entrenched, they will soon be seeking our lives. All that is left to us is our honor, and this must be expressed either as party loyalty or our resignation from it. I am a Republican, I know what it means to be a Republican, and if my party occasionally forgets, I will remind them, and be happy to do it while working to elect Republicans, and only Republicans, to political office.