As we Republicans lick our wounds after a very humbling election, there is one thing that is an obvious lesson that we all must take away: We need more participation in our party structure from citizens willing to work for the GOP.
We all have heard the mantra that Republicans must be an inclusive “Big Tent” party. There are signs once again that would make it appear that this big tent includes those willing to work closely with Democrats while excluding those that claim their roots in the Tea Party.
Flashes are on the horizon sounding the alarms of an all-out attack on conservative groups from those calling themselves the “Center Right”. As those who have studied the political history of our party know, this is not new.
Since Goldwater challenged the establishment 50 years ago, this group of big-government Republicans has tried to minimize the conservative wing of the party; an effort that gave us Ronald Reagan.
Now comes the harbinger of the latest attempt to keep conservatives “in their place”. The following letter is an example of the exclusionary tactics of what could only be called the “Ruling Class” mentality that threatens the very heart of what the Republican Party should be.
Written to The Virginia Free Citizen by Philip Hamilton of Caroline County, Ruther Glen, VA.
Currently, there is an ongoing struggle between establishment Republicans and Tea Party conservatives over future control of local GOP committee units. Many GOP committee units, including the unit in Caroline County, are controlled by establishment Republicans who are actively stonewalling Tea Party conservatives from joining the committee.
In the 7th Congressional District, and in surrounding Congressional districts such as the 1st, Congressman Eric Cantor, Bill Bolling and others in power are actively seeking to retain establishment chair control and to overthrow tea party chairs. Eric Cantor knows that he is more likely to win a primary than a convention, since a more conservative candidate would win the latter.
Cantor specifically wants pro-primary chairs installed in GOP committees so that when he is up for re-election he can insure he obtains the nomination process of choice. For Cantor, and other establishment Republicans, retaining power is more important than growing the party.
Last month, I wrote a letter to the editor explaining what needs to change in the local Republican Party in Caroline County. As the Grassroots Chair of the Fredericksburg Area Young Republicans, and as the Caroline County Tea Party Chair, I felt a responsibility to offer some suggestions as to how I thought the local Republican party might be more effective. I suggested that meetings be once a month, rather than quarterly. I suggested that it might be advisable to appoint a minority outreach director.
Finally, I suggested that a Caroline County GOP Committee website should be created to help disseminate information about the local GOP Committee. The website could include a “mission statement” with goals and objectives. It should include a schedule of meetings (times, places, and agenda). It could also include general news and “happenings” of the local committee. It could tell people how to get involved. Such a website could be a valuable tool to help grow the party locally. Although I have given my suggestions to the local Caroline County GOP Chair, Jeff Sili, there has been no response to date.
On Monday December 2, 2013 I attended the Caroline GOP committee meeting at the courthouse in Bowling Green. Upon entering the Courthouse, the police officer asked my name and went on to warn me that I would be asked to leave should I cause a problem. I assured him causing any problem was not my intent. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no formal agenda for members and visitors to follow. There was no roll call of members, nor was there a sign up sheet for visitors in attendance. When the meeting began, Susan Sili spent ten minutes making false statements against me, such as the accusation that I was a Democrat, that I tried to start a Young Republicans group in Caroline without the authorization of the Virginia Young Republicans chair, and that I handed out non-Republican literature at the Harvest Festival and the local Agriculture Fair.
The non-Republican literature that they mentioned me handing out at the Caroline Republican Committee booths, in addition to Republican campaign literature I handed out, was pocket U.S. Constitutions and Heritage Action for America literature stating the negative effects of Obamacare. I strongly feel that the committee Chair did not completely follow tenants in “The Robert’s Rules of Order” throughout the meeting in an effort to “blackball” me from joining the committee.
I am uncertain as to when these allegations were brought up for discussion at a previous public meeting. To my knowledge, these allegations and innuendos were never discussed in a publicly announced meeting held by the committee that I attended. If there had been such a public meeting, I am sure I would have attended if it had been announced in a timely manner. Could there have been a private, or otherwise unscheduled “strategy” meeting amongst just a few committee members when the attack upon my good name was formulated? If so, why were the minutes of that private meeting read as if they were recorded from a public meeting? If such a private meeting did take place, did “the committee” change “application and joining rules” at that time? If such a meeting took place then they should of stated when was it announced, where was it held, and who was in attendance.
After the “minutes” (the “smear attack”) were read on December 2nd, one person was allowed to make a correction, then, there was a quick motion to accept them. It was followed by a quick “second”, and a quick vote to accept the “minutes”. Though my good name had been smeared, I was given no opportunity, at any time, to raise questions, or rebut the accusations and innuendoes made towards me. Mr. Sili, stated that the minutes had been and approved, and that “the meeting” was moving forward. The only other business taken up by “the committee” was a financial report, and an explanation of the rules changes for becoming a member of the committee. The rest of the evening was spent listening to State Representative Robert Orrock.
A couple of visitors told me later that it was obvious to them I was being ridiculed, smeared, and admonished in the so-called minutes. They further stated that they can now understand why the Caroline County GOP Committee seems ineffective in getting out the Republican vote.
I believe Jeff Sili has deliberately taken measures towards me in an effort to intimidate me and discourage me from attempting to join the Caroline County GOP Committee. In so doing, he is taking a stand against the Conservative tenets, ideals and values of the Tea Party. I believe Mr. Sili’s actions towards me have been unfair and unethical. I believe his actions demonstrate that he is not interested in new and refreshing ideas that might help grow the Caroline GOP into a more effective Republican voting unit. He appears to be “closed-minded” and resistant to change.
The Status Quo in the Caroline County GOP Committee, as well as the Republican party in general under the leadership of “establishment players” and their “establishment philosophies” is unacceptable. It is a shame that a young person, like myself, who is desirous of joining, and willing to volunteer my time and energy in an effort to help the Caroline GOP Committee, has been disrespected by the entrenched leadership of that committee. Mr. Sili is basically saying that if you agree with him, his ideas and his philosophy, then he might welcome you into “his” committee.
If Mr. Sili is indeed serious about wanting to grow Republican voters in Caroline County, then, he must be willing to make some changes within the committee’s closed-minded philosophy and behavior, so that it will become truly representational of the values of all Republican voters. I would think that Mr. Sili, and “his” committee would welcome citizen input by welcoming new members (many with refreshing ideas and suggestions) with open arms. If some changes are not made, I believe the Republican party in Caroline County will continue to flounder.