Monday, April 25, 2016

Establishment and Grassroots

Sometimes there are words we assume we understand, but that aren’t clearly or easily defined. Establishment and grassroots are two of these. They are supposedly opposite, but lately establishment has been used as an epithet to silence disagreement from elsewhere in the grassroots, which is the exact opposite of what grassroots is about. So, let’s define and examine for clarity.

The term Establishment identifies an amorphous controlling elite. Lately this refers to those in the Republican Party, particularly in Washington, DC, who have a different agenda than the rank-and-file Republican citizen. Assumed to belong are the party leadership and leadership in the US Congress and Senate. Sometimes Paul Ryan, recently chosen to replace John Boehner as House Majority Leader, is included, and sometimes he’s exempted. He was chosen because he was acceptable to both the establishment and the non-establishment.

But it can’t be that being in a particular position automatically makes someone establishment. That would require, instead, some beliefs and attitudes in addition to position. Otherwise it would be pointless to try to elect people who share grassroots ideas into positions of leadership.

So, for our purposes, maybe we need to identify the beliefs and attitudes. There’s not an overriding authority, so this is from my observations.

The GOP Establishment consists of House and Senate members, sometimes including leadership, who focus on party power more than on party purpose—plus some lobbyists, crony capitalists, and various opinion makers who share an agenda with the rest of the establishment. Sometimes the difference in beliefs is as slight as wanting to go the right direction, but wanting to do it slowly and incrementally rather than suddenly. In other words, change slowly rather than radically.

But sometimes it’s more a matter of wanting to keep the status quo—quite a lot of power in Washington, DC, regardless of authority from the Constitution. And sometimes it’s a matter of going along with Democrat ideas because the media makes it seem that is what the public wants, so, to maintain power, going that direction but slower than the Democrats go there.

Staying where we are or going further the wrong direction are not acceptable to the grassroots.

Came across this on Facebook;
can't locate origin, but found here

Grassroots ideas, or political movements or campaigns, start and grow from the local community. This includes the grassroots of a party. I need to repeat that: the grassroots include ideas, movements, and campaigns within a party. The definition includes where the movement comes from: from local people in communities. They share the idea—or word about a candidate—with friends. This could look like local clubs and meetings, like my local Tea Party, where we hear from candidates and speakers, plus share ideas with each other. Or it could be what we do at precinct meetings, when we elect delegates for the next level up and propose ideas that we’d like to have included in the party platform. It might also include sharing our opinions on social media, or going around to people in our precinct to get them educated and registered to vote.

Grassroots ideas tend to come from people dissatisfied with the status quo. So they’re likely to disagree with any establishment in the “maintain our own power” camp of keeping the status quo.
Grassroots in the Republican Party is conservative in ways outside the status quo box. The Grassroots want smaller government—like you’d get if you actually followed the Constitution. Grassroots want lower taxes and less government spending. And less regulation interfering with innovation and entrepreneurship. Or interference with personal beliefs and opinions—like those listed in the First Amendment and the other Bill of Rights amendments.

It’s possible for grassroots movements to be extreme. Most associated with Democrats are. But it is not extreme to value the basic law of our country—the Constitution.

Grassroots tend to be made up of people committed to their communities, and to taking action to make things better. So, at the local level—precinct chairs, for example—you’re likely to find conservative grassroots ideas being shared around.

At least that has been my experience everywhere I’ve been involved. I started going to precinct conventions (by another name in a different state) as soon as I was old enough to vote. I first became a delegate to a county convention in 1984. Then we lived briefly in a couple of states where I never figured out how to get involved. Then, in yet another state, Mr. Spherical Model became a precinct chair. Both of us were delegates at the county convention. He went to the state convention several times. In Texas I started attending precinct conventions—and district and state conventions—as soon as I figured out how. And now I’m a precinct chair.

So I’m involved in my party. And I have been for decades. When the Tea Party showed up in 2010, I started attending, to make connections and to educate myself as a voter. But it has turned out that I also get to express my opinions quite a lot. During the past three legislative sessions I’ve led a group of us in following legislation and expressing our opinions to Texas lawmakers as citizen lobbyists.

Not all Tea Party people have been involved as long as I have. Some just woke up after Obama’s election and imposition of atrocities like Obamacare. And we have a range of opinions, although I’d say they’re nearly all in the Republican-to-Libertarian range, with not much (if any) overlap with the Democrat-to-Socialist range.

But the reason for my post today comes from a misunderstanding—or misrepresentation being exploited—by some newer to politics who think anyone involved with parties is corrupt establishment.

Some of this misrepresentation comes directly from the Trump campaign, which might indicate whether it’s actually grassroots or not. But they’re trying to convince the relatively new “activist” followers of Trump that no one who disagrees can be trusted.

About a contested convention, which happens if no candidate gets over 50% of the total delegates before the convention, there are no “brokers,” or establishment powers who get to override all those delegates and the voters who sent them to the convention.

On the first ballot, the delegates from most states are required to vote for the candidate they’re assigned to as a result of primary voting. Some states require the delegate to remain with that candidate for more than one ballot.

But when no candidate wins a majority of delegates on the first ballot, many—probably most—are free to vote their personal choice on the next ballot. And the next. Until a candidate wins a majority. There’s no stealing involved. The delegate was elected because of his/her leanings. Elected by delegates at lower levels, reaching to the most local grassroots.

Of the remaining candidates, longtime grassroots Republicans are much more likely to choose Ted Cruz, because he is a Constitutional conservative. He has reached out to those delegates and their grassroots support—in every state—and has given them his message and asked for their vote. And he has worked to find like-minded grassroots workers to run to become delegates.

It’s not a game. But it is a process. And he has shown respect for the grassroots through this process. Whereas Donald Trump has carried out a mostly-free-media top-down campaign with little attention offered to grassroots politics.

It wouldn’t matter whether Washington insiders actually wanted Trump to be their candidate; if a majority of the delegates do not want him (and he hasn’t won a majority coming in to the convention), he doesn’t get to be the nominee.

It is a grassroots decision.

It’s informative that some of those who are just recently awake to the dire condition of the country, who haven’t been participating in the grassroots for very long, might be skeptical and cynical about everyone and everything that disagrees with them.

But people involved for quite a while—people who are familiar with the Constitution, and are fully engaged in searching for leaders committed to lower taxes, less government interference in our lives, and protection of our God-given rights—are not inclined to support a candidate who blusters about some of those things but has no coherent plan to get us there. And no record of believing in the things that will get us there. And lacking the character that would show any actual change of heart.

In summary, I’ve been involved a long time—at the grassroots level only. I do not support Trump, specifically because I am a grassroots conservative who loves the Constitution. Calling people like me establishment because I have participated with the party and do not support Trump is ignorant both of the process of growing ideas, and of the strength of the grassroots desire to return to the Constitution.

And I support Ted Cruz because I am a grassroots conservative who loves the Constitution. We grassroots have been praying and watching for such a consistent Constitutional conservative for lifetimes.

I know and trust the grassroots around me here in Texas. We’re somewhat dependent on the grassroots elsewhere. But I have watched Ted Cruz reach out to others like me, and others respond to him as I have. So now it’s time to spread that word in our own grassroots communities. And then trust that what needs to happen for the sake of our beloved country will happen.

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