Saturday, June 30, 2007

Unity is a rational choice

In Greg's report on Monday night's meeting, which he titles "Unity is an earned commodity" (I think), he makes some good points, and some bad ones:
Tonight’s PWCRC meeting included a plenty of calls for Republican unity in order to help our candidates win in November, and those calls make a lot of sense. The purpose of the committee is to get Republicans elected, and unity is an important part of accomplishing that goal. With a fractured party, this goal is a lot harder to accomplish, and good candidates to some degree risk suffering some negative impacts if the support structure behind them isn’t effective.

He is right about the importance of unity. Unity is critical to the task of the Committee, and a fractured party is trouble for ALL Republicans.

He next talks about the 51st convention and the meeting of the 11th district committee:
I hope that their discussions will focus around restoring some degree of confidence in the convention process and addressing the problems observed in this and other recent conventions. In order to achieve unity, it will be critical to restore some degree of confidence in the candidate selection process. Without that, regardless of who the nominee for the 51st District will eventually be, that unity will be difficult if not impossible to earn.

Nothing the 11th district committee does will give people confidence for this
election cycle. We absolutely have to develop better procedures for conventions, but that will help in the future, not now. We don't need the 11th district for this, a couple smart people could do this from our own committee.

Meanwhile, we already have a nominee for the 51st district, and there's no unity because those who oppose him refuse to accept the current reality. And if at some point a ruling recommends a change in nominee, there may still be no unity because. barring a finding of actual fraud by the candidate himself, most of the committee will not accept changing the outcome on a technicality when a majority of delegates clearly supported the winner.

Unity is an earned commodity, after all. It requires that we have confidence that the process is fair and equitable, and our commitment to the process is what builds confidence and earns unity.
This is nonsense. Unity is a choice of the individual to put aside personal differences for the common goal. You earn respect, but you don't need to respect someone to unite with them on a common goal. You just have to realise the goal is more important than your own complaints and grievances. I'd still like to see a single piece of evidence that the process for the 51st was not "fair" or "equitable", but in any case Greg is mixing up "unity" with "trust" or "respect".

Until we adequately address the issues that threaten this unity, unless we actually earn unity, calls to be unified aren’t likely to be very effective. Show activists that their contributions will be thwarted by an unfair process, and they’re more likely to walk away than join hands with those they may feel are responsible and work to serve their interests. Earning unity by letting dissenters bleed away, instead of demonstrating that unity is deserved, just isn’t productive in the long term either, although it can appear to provide a relatively quick but costly resolution.

Activists won't feel "thwarted" by an "unfair process" if the goals are the same. The reason activist feel thwarted now is they were working at cross purposes -- because of different primary candidate choices. But now there are a set of Republican candidates, and the only "thwarting" will be if some choose to support non-Republicans, in which case THEY are the problem and unity requires they leave. Because unity is not about "earning", but it IS about working for a common GOAL.

People will overlook their own distrust of a process if they think they can work together to achieve results.

The hardest test of leadership is dealing with issues such as these. These issues are not to be swept under the rug amidst calls for unity, but addressed head-on so that confidence, trust, and unity can be earned.

There's a lot of hand-waving about "unfair processes", but little evidence of what was unfair. There have been perceptions, charges, accusations -- but little in the way of concrete facts which can be dealt with. I'm not disagreeing that we need to deal with issues -- I'm just saying that spelling out the issues is actually a hard but necessary step.
Until that happens, and perhaps it will as the folks involved are hardly stupid and frequently remind us that they are motivated by larger goals, calls like this are more annoying than worthy of serious consideration.

Calls for unity are only annoying to those who still want to have fights over which candidates to support. We don't "unite" during primaries, because we all support different Republicans. But once those fights are over, we are SUPPOSED to come together to support whoever the winner is.

Instead, we have four groups which refuse to unite behind the Republican or Republican-endorsed candidates -- Lucy's gang who dropped out rather than lose a convention, Desi running against Republican-endorsed Gil Trenum, Maureen who is unopposed but is upset that someone may not have supported her in the primary, and Lucas, who at least is staying in the party but whose supporters refuse to accept the current situation and instead pretend that filing an appeal erases the current results.

What Greg is saying is that some members aren't ready to be unified, and until they are, calls for unity will be ignored. He hasn't spelled out the terms of surrender here, but from reading his and other blogs, I can't see anything that could be done that would satisfy them.
Some of the things I am hoping will result from the 11th District and RPV are more clear and defined procedures to be used for conventions. By defining the process in greater detail and ensuring that that process is auditable, we can restore confidence in the legitimacy of future candidates. I also hope that a thorough investigation of what happened at the 51st District Convention will help to establish where weaknesses are and provide a solid basis for establishing these more thorough and improved process definitions.

Here I agree. We need to clarify and add detail to the RPV plan statements. While there are a lot of ways to handle credentialing, verification, and balloting, there's no REASON for diversity in these steps -- there's certainly a "best way", and we should use it.

For example, a list of delegates by precinct should have been printed and checked off at the ballot box, just like in real elections. We had printed badges "checked off" with precinct names -- but we didn't collect them, and the badges could line up in the wrong line. A checklist wouldn't. With a checklist, we could stop Delegates who weren't credentialed for a precinct and send them to the right one, PLUS we'd know exactly who voted in each precinct to ensure they had checked in, and we'd assure people didn't vote twice.

An initialling of each ballot by the two volunteers would ensure no fake ballots were inserted. Although the numbering of ballots already did this, the initialling by both campaigns would eliminate the justification for either campaign to complain about ballot control.

RPV should either get rid of the rule allowing non-registered voters, or specifically state the cutoff date for application, and clearly state the items which will be required to "verify" the voters in the absense of their name on a registration list.

I'm sure a few of us could get together and make a complete list based on the 51st and other conventions that would largely solve the problems. I happen to think the 51st did a LOT of good things, but some of their focus on re-verifying identities may have distracted volunteers from checking precincts.

Lastly, although there is no perfect choice to be made in the appeals
process, an honest and thorough description of what happened and a commitment to learn from it will help others to accept whatever decision is rendered and allow some of us to accept that while mistakes were made, we’re moving forward in a responsible manner. We can’t resolve everyone’s concerns here, but we may have an opportunity to resolve those for many.

I disagree, because the only possible reversal of the results would come from throwing out 103 legal, valid, counted votes, simply to "correct" wrong-precinct voting from other legal, valid, credentialed voters. Since examination of the overvote/undervotes and possible effects shows Gill would still win (see HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE), absent proof of fraud (and no fraud is alleged in the appeal), it would not be RIGHT to arbitrarily reverse the results.

It would be nice if people could even agree on an "honest, thorough" description, but given the anger at Tom Kopko for trying to be "thorough" by getting reports from the observers, I doubt the opponents will accept anything he says. And given Becky's ENDORSEMENT of Julie, and her prejudging of the appeal, nobody will trust HER judgment either.

There is no way Lucas supporters will accept a decision that leaves Faisal in charge, although they may resign themselves to it. And there is little chance given the evidence presented that Faisal supporters would accept overturning the convention as anything but an underhanded political maneuver -- absent clear evidence of fraud by the candidate. We can't count on ANY result of the appeal to cause "unity" -- we simply need to determine to BE UNIFIED in spite of the appeal. That's not earned, it's simply an act of will.
Unity cannot be achieved without fairness, and to the extent we can establish that in the aftermath of this convention, we have the opportunity to earn unity, rather than just explain how important it is and beg for it. I hope the leadership of the PWCRC uses this opportunity well.
Unity has nothing to do with fairness. Unity is based on commonality of purpose. The PURPOSE of the Republican Committee is to elect Republicans, whether we like them or not. If you don't want to elect Republicans, don't join the Republican committee, sign up for individual campaigns. If you choose to be a "Republican Committee Member", then support the Republicans, whoever they are -- or at least don't support their opponents. And resolve to get along with other people who have that common goal, rather than looking to inject personal grievances into the committee process.

I do hope the committee uses this time to re-evaluate their approach to things. But that has nothing to do with unity, and everything to do with effectiveness. Because we can all be united, but if the committee is ineffective, activists will lose interest as their efforts are wasted by the process.

For example, Gil Trenum should be unopposed for School Board. That would free him and his supporters to give money and time to other Republicans. Instead we will spend time and money supporting Gil, and other committee members will possibly do the same for Desi, as we fight against ourselves instead of being unified.

Because unity has nothing to do with "earning", or "trusting", just "working together for a common goal". But since some don't want to do that, they instead have tried unsuccessfully to re-define the word.

UPDATE 7/5: GBK makes the following observation in a post about this thread, in which he notes that I said that a checklist would "assure people didn't vote twice":

He wrote on 6/30/07 that "With a checklist...we'd assure people didn't vote twice." But now he says double-voting was impossible.

"Assure" means "to cause to know surely; reassure". So there is no contradiction. The process in place would make it "impossible" (nothing is truly impossible, it just would be extremely difficult). But the process we had does not provide a paper trail for those who did not attend the convention.

A checklist would "assure", meaning "cause to know surely", that nobody voted twice, because we could see each name checked off, and count the number of checked-off names, proving there was a separate name for each vote.

BTW, GBK says several times I was at the convention -- I was not, and I've never said I was. I'm not in the district, I was not a "Faisal Gill supporter", I never endorsed a candidate, and I never told anybody who to vote for or not vote for.


Anonymous said...

Talk about wasting time and money......What about the websites for the sandwich? Have you seen Jackson Miller's website? It is a total mess!!! You would think BVBL or Riley who are both wonderful web designers would bother to help Jackson. It would seem that getting Jackson re-elected would be of utmost importance!!! Guess Not!!

James Young said...

Your post is pretty good, Charles, but it presumes facts not in evidence: a common goal. Neither Greg, nor many of his anonymous/pseudonymous posters, nor even those who post under their own name, have that common goal.

That they have any influence at all in light of THAT fact is the scandal.

Anonymous said...

The 11th Dist. Com. isn't going to throw out 103 votes. Gill would immediately file suit in Fed. Ct. pursuant to Fair Voting Rights Act.

Gill simply out organized Lucas. Toward the end of the convention when he needed votes, he had his people on a phone-tree and they came streaming back in to carry the day. HE WON.

If Greg wants to have influence, all he has to do is tell the truth, the whole truth, so help him God.

Anonymous said...

If Greg over at BVBL wants to increase his blog's influence, always publishing the truth would be a real good start. He has also recently picked up a good theme from Ron Maxwell: Populism.

Greg's Help Save Manassas has real potential for helping the beleaguered citizens of Prince William County. It also has the potential for making Greg a significant political force in the County. This second observation, in my opinion, is partially why Greg is putting so much effort into HSM. He either wants to run for office or would like to be the local King Maker. Now this PopulistTheme could help both objectives.

Ron Maxell gave a speech the other night, as outlined by Greg in some of his recent posts, that was masterfully written and delivered.
The Populist Theme of Maxwell's speech could have been delivered, in another place and time, by Francisco (Pancho) Villa, whose real name was Doroteo Arango or Emiliano Zapata. Truman's "Fair Deal" also comes to mind. But in any event the theme strikes many chords accross party lines. It is a chance for HSM to get disaffected Dems. on board. Heck, even some of the illegal aliens might recognize the rhetoric.
-Just My Thoughts

Charles said...


Of course, there can be no unity without a common goal. Trust, "earning", whatever, makes no difference toward unity, unity is shorthand for "unity of purpose". And the answer to a group which is divided by a lack of unity of purpose is to divide the group, to remove those working at cross-purposes.

Oddly, Greg kind of understood that, underlying his post, unsaid but screaming to be heard, was the idea that the leadership of the committee is NOT working toward that purpose, but rather toward some unseen, evil purpose.

He can't say that because he has no idea what that purpose is, or any evidence of it. But it's why he used the words "earned commidity" -- because he's really saying they can't be trusted to have the same purpose as the rest of us.

Except it is clear that, whatever else you can say about Tom Kopko, he is keenly focused on getting ALL of our chosen republican candidates elected. Now, in the primary there may have been "preferred" candidates (and why shouldn't there be), they were all republican and supporting ANY of them was valid. But now that we have candidates, it is clear Tom, and Denny, and the rest of the committee leadership want them all elected.

Another funny part of this is how often commenters at BVBL will link Tom and Denny, as if they are "working together" on some evil plot. They seem to have all forgotten that Tom Kopko wnated Trent Barton for the Vice Chair, and Denny ran AGAINST him and won. Denny is NOT Tom's pick.