Columnist Note: Although this piece was written with regard to perceived divisions within a local party apparatus in Idaho, many local party organizations may be working through some of the same challenges. For this reason, I was encouraged to submit it for whatever value it may provide for local Party entities elsewhere. – Richard
Intra-party struggles are nothing new. In a two-party system as we have, there are always party members who feel theirs is either too liberal or too conservative. What we have experienced this past year in local, state, and national party structures is nothing new, as ideologies are parsed and attempts are made by individuals or groups of individuals to swing party allegiance one way or the other.
Typically, internal party challenges are ideologically-oriented. That’s what the primary election process is all about: selecting candidates for each of the two major parties that are felt by party voters to best represent their respective parties.
The intra-party struggle for self-identity can be characterized aptly by the Asian yin and yang, the symbol closely identified to Taoism. The light and dark teardrop shapes are constantly in a state of flux or self-identification, and yet share the majority of their border with the other. This connection indicates how perceived contrarian forces are truly interconnected as well as interdependent.
Likewise, the forces of party self-definition, seeking their ideological identity, are constantly in a state of flux, where current economic and political climate, candidates, and ascending ideologies affect the overall composition of the party. One is not good while the other bad, but they’re both critical to the overall composition of the party as the forces vie for ascendency in every election cycle.
Political labels are unavoidable, as political parties, candidates, pollsters, and media all incorporate them for purposes of identification and classification. Some, however, are used pejoratively, as in the classification of “RINOs,” (Republicans in Name Only) and the “Old Guard”, which are sometimes used interchangeably, though incorrectly.
The “Old Guard” in most cases constitutes the long-time, sometimes life-long party leaders who have been in the trenches fighting the good fight for conservatism all along. They are, by definition, not synonymous with “RINOs” as they have been the standard bearers shaping the party platform over the years (where RINOs clearly reject many if not all of the conservative planks.)
Headlines in the Journal of late have indicated a schism within the ranks of the Bannock County Republican Party apparatus. The headlines are based falsely, in my estimation, on a difference in ideology. Having been on board from the earliest stages of the Tea Party movement locally, I know what the movement is based upon. The ten planks of the Tea Party movement are: eliminate excessive taxes, eliminate the national debt, eliminate deficit spending, protect free markets, abide by the Constitution of the United States, promote civic responsibility, reduce the overall size of government, believe in the people, avoid the pitfalls of politics, and maintain local independence.
This past week, I had the opportunity to visit extensively on ideology, campaigning, organization, and electioneering with those classified as the “Old Guard” of the Republican Party in Bannock County. With each one, I reviewed the core principles of the Tea Party movement, as listed above. And without exception, each one agreed in toto.
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