Constitutional conservatives are not only mad at the Republican Party Establishment, but they want to defeat them—and defeat them badly. The bad news is that the Republican Establishment knows this and has already fixed the process to favor their selected 2016 Presidential nominee.
Conservatives want Party leadership thrown out and they want Establishment Republican elected officials defeated in primaries. This could not be more obvious as recently elected Establishment favorites are swiftly and forcefully joining forces with the Obama administration on at least two of the most important issues facing our nation: illegal immigration and the national debt.
In response, many conservatives have become very optimistic about the 2016 primary season, including the prospect of nominating for the first time in 32 years a real conservative to represent the Party in a presidential election. I wish this were true.
The sad reality is that the deck is already stacked against the conservatives to such a degree that winning the GOP presidential nomination will be extremely difficult, if not next to impossible. This is true even if the conservatives can agree on a strong, viable nominee to represent them and even though the vast majority of the Republican base is conservative. How can this possibly be?
While many conservative leaders and pundits dismiss the role of the Republican National Committee (RNC) itself when it comes to determining the philosophical direction of the Party, the reality is that Party organization and procedures are vital to determining that direction and it ultimately affects public policy. This is most clearly seen at the presidential level.
The Establishment knows they don’t have the support of the majority of the GOP base or those rank-and-file Republicans who affiliate with the GOP. They know it, but they don’t care. So beginning in 2012 and continuing to the present day, the Establishment is making a powerful, and in many ways deceitful, effort to change the way that the Party selects its presidential nominee so that THEY can to continue to set the agenda. As it stands right now, the Establishment has rigged the system to make it much harder for anyone not supported by the Establishment to become the GOP presidential nominee.
The most important thing to know about the RNC Convention that took place in Tampa, Florida in 2012 was not that it was the dog-and-pony show convention where Mitt Romney was nominated. Rather, the most important thing to know is that it was the convention where the Chamber of Commerce controlled Establishment Republicans staged a power-grab through rule changes that effectively will serve to shut down grassroots efforts and candidates from having any meaningful participation in the Party process at the national level.
These changes were made with the support of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, pushed through the rules committee by Romney’s attorney Ben Ginsburg (who was later appointed by Obama to a presidential voting commission) and supported by our own State Party Chairman, Ryan Call.
These rules were not pushed through without objection. In fact, there were several stories at the time, and many conservative activists were screaming at the top of their lungs (literally) at the Convention in opposition to these rules changes. Nevertheless, with backroom arm twisting, outright deceit, and even openly ignoring obvious voice votes on the Convention floor, Reince Prebius, John Boehner, Henry Barbour, and rules committee chairman John Sununu rammed through the rules changes without taking into consideration the objections of those opposed. See RNC Rules Disaster.
Not only did these Party elites ram through rule changes at the 2012 convention, they changed the rules to allow for RNC members to amend the rules in between conventions. This unprecedented change (Rule 12) now allows for the RNC, which is almost entirely Establishment controlled, to make and change rules as they see fit. While prior to the 2012 convention rule changes could only be approved by thousands of delegates who were elected at the grassroots level from across the country, now rule changes can be made by only 126 RNC members (state party chairmen and national committeemen and women -- typically wealthy, well-connected Party elites) between the close of the 2012 convention and September 30, 2014, with very little oversight or check and balances in place. In one fell swoop, the organization of the Party shifted from a bottom-up organization to a top-down (“we know what’s best”) oligarchy.
And if you thought the Establishment controlled RNC would treat their new powers with care and prudence, think again. The RNC has wasted no time in adding and amending the rules on numerous occasions since 2012 to effectively shut out the voice of the grassroots, and most recently at their summer meeting in Chicago. See this summary of Summer 2014 rule changes.
The bottom line here is that the Establishment elites within the Republican Party have been working hard behind the scenes to ensure their 2012 illegal power grab over the Party is solidified to the detriment of the grassroots, conservative movement within the GOP. You will get Jeb Bush, Chris Christie or Mitt Romney served up on your plate, whether you want it or not.
Is there a way to overcome this? Unfortunately, the only shot at undoing much of the damage cannot take place until the 2016 RNC Convention, which of course will be controlled by the Establishment, including proposed rule changes most of which will be vetted by the Establishment controlled rules committee.
However, constitutional conservatives have another arrow in their quiver. In addition to electing conservative delegates that are willing to stand up to the Party Establishment, we must make it loud and clear that we are not afraid of “going third party.” And our version of third party is not going to really be a third party—it is going to be a complete replacement of the Republican Party as it stands now from the outside.
While the Establishment may have the money and the support of the Chamber of Commerce, conservatives have the numbers and principles on our side. And should the Establishment fail to respect the will of its grassroots conservative base, disaster will loom for them. If the Establishment continues to insist on pursuing this war on its own foundational base of voters and supporters, it will be time for a complete overhaul of the Republican Party—not from the inside, but from outside the corrupt system the Establishment put into place.
For an excellent and detailed summary of the rule changes and how they affect the grassroots base of the GOP, see 2012 RNC Delegate and Convention Rules Committee member, Florence Sebern’s summary: RNC Rules Amendments Adopted 2013-2014.