In the last several days, a number of Virginia activists, bloggers, and the Donald Trump campaign are up in arms about a pledge the Republican Party of Virginia is insisting on voters signing. They want all voters in Virginia’s March 1st Republican Presidential Primary to sign a document indicating that they are Republicans. It certainly makes sense to have only Republicans choose the Republican nominee. However, despite this worthless pledge, there is no way to tell who is a Republican because the party’s principles are ill-defined and ill-enforced. In addition, the fact that the party is making all Virginia taxpayers pay for this primary should be reason enough to shoot down this foolish pledge.
However, this isn’t the first time that the Republican Party of Virginia has tried to compel Virginia voters to give them their loyalty. Although many likely don’t remember, the RPV created a pledge prior to their 2012 primary. This was was far more odious as it read, “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.” Why anyone would agree to such a blanket statement without knowing who the nominee would be and what he or she stands for is baffling.
In response, on December 30, 2011, Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard urged his readers to boycott the Virginia primary if the RPV insisted on this pledge. I discovered this piece after he had included a link in the article to my website. As I wrote four years ago, “A few moments ago, I was surprised to find that well-known neo-conservative analyst and editor of The Weekly Standard, William Kristol, wrote a piece yesterday linking to my blog, The Virginia Conservative. Even though we disagree on quite a few issues, (and I don’t think that boycotting is the best solution to the problem) I’m glad to see that we both believe that the loyalty oath in the upcoming VA GOP primary is folly.” As a result of massive public outcry against it, the party dumped the pledge shortly thereafter and it was soon forgotten by almost everyone.
However, here we are four years later and again the Republican Party of Virginia is pushing its pledge and, just like last time, the public is rising up against it.
As Shaun Kenney of Bearing Drift wrote recently, the party can either hold a convention, which is privately funded by the party in which they get to choose who participates, or they can choose an open primary that is and ought to be open to any voter that helps fund it. As a party supposedly devoted to fiscal responsibility and liberty, they shouldn’t suckle at the public teat for funding of their private inter-workings, try and fail to restrict participation, then complain when they end up with another terrible candidate in the mold of John McCain or Mitt Romney.
You have to wonder if the leaders of the RPV remember their history at all. Are they doomed to making the same mistake every four years, using tax dollars to fund their private party contests and then trying to restrict which of these taxpayers can participate? Will this ugly issue resurface in 2020 (assuming the GOP loses the presidency again) or 2024?
It is profoundly frustrating the Republican Party and their State Central Committee continually demand unquestioned loyalty to their party and their elected officials especially given that neither one is held to any sort of ideological standard. Is there any wonder why more people, like Franklin Graham, have left their party and become independents?
Well, if history is any guide, we’ll discuss this issue again four years from now as we work to shoot down another RPV pledge. Enjoy your Throwback Thursday.