Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Kansas GOP requires loyalty oath

This is just WOW! I found this through Kos, with the original source story from Kansas.com. I'm publishing the entire story here:

TOPEKA - The state Republican Party is forming a loyalty committee so that it can punish officers who endorse or contribute to Democrats.

The GOP's conservative-dominated state committee also is accusing a prominent moderate of trying to undermine the party's fundraising. It has adopted a resolution criticizing Steve Cloud, a Lenexa businessman and former legislator who represents Kansas on the Republican National Committee.

The state committee's anti-Cloud resolution and its decision to form the loyalty committee came as Republicans continue to feel the sting of election losses last year. Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius easily won a second term; Paul Morrison switched parties to win the attorney general's office as a Democrat; and Democrat Nancy Boyda ousted five-term Republican Rep. Jim Ryun in the 2nd Congressional District.

Before taking office in January, chairman Kris Kobach promised to reorganize and reinvigorate the Kansas GOP. He and other Republicans have said GOP activists need to show unity in elections so that Democrats don't take advantage of their disagreements.

"The motive behind this is, 'Let's make sure Republicans are supporting Republicans,' " said Christian Morgan, the state GOP's executive director. "If you want to hold a party post, you should at least be supporting Republican candidates."

The state committee's actions struck a sour note for some Republicans, particularly moderates on issues such as abortion. Bob Beatty, a Washburn University political scientist, suggested the loyalty committee could prove a "public relations disaster."

"Ironically, it smacks most of the Communist Party," Beatty said Monday. "That's the kind of public irony that most parties try to avoid -- the party of freedom telling people they have no freedom."

Kobach and his allies contend they're attempting to strengthen the party's state organization and the loyalty committee is a way to promote unity.

While the GOP enjoys a significant advantage in the number of registered voters in Kansas, dissension has allowed Democrats to peel away disaffected moderates. Sebelius and Morrison are perhaps the best examples.

The committee won't be in place until the end of January 2008, when Republicans hold their annual convention.

Kobach said the panel -- himself and the chairman of each of the four congressional district committees -- won't have regular meetings, just sessions when complaints arise. Its decisions can be appealed to the party's executive committee.

And, Kobach said, the grounds for removing someone from office are fairly narrow: They must publicly endorse or contribute to a non-Republican running in Kansas.

"This rule will operate primarily as a deterrent," Kobach said. "My anticipation is that once the rule is in effect, you won't see too many elected party leaders engaging in this kind of behavior."

Kobach said state GOP organizations in at least 15 other states have some method for stripping party leaders of their offices for disloyalty. For example, in Arkansas the state committee appoints three-member committees to investigate complaints if someone fails to perform party duties or is "working against the interests" of the GOP.

But the concept of a loyalty committee still makes some Republicans nervous, even if they agree party officers should not endorse or contribute to Democrats.

"It gives me pause for thought anytime someone requires a loyalty oath of anyone from any organization," said Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh. "I'm somewhat uncomfortable with a group sitting in judgment of other members."

Beatty said forming such a committee could be seen as an attempt to purge moderates from the party -- something Kobach said isn't true.

But Andy Wollen, president of the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority, a moderate group, mused about the GOP creating a "grand high inquisitor."

"When you hear the term loyalty committee, what runs through your mind?" he said. "Joseph McCarthy. George Orwell."

Cloud supports the loyalty committee, even though he has run afoul of conservatives who dominate the party leadership.

He earned their public criticism for signing a fundraising letter for Wollen's group in March, criticizing the party's leadership and suggesting people give to the Kansas Traditional Republican Majority.

Cloud said if he had signed a letter for a conservative group, he wouldn't be targeted. But Morgan said the issue is that Cloud was encouraging people to give money to Wollen's group instead of the party.

How much more wing-nuttery can you get here? Demanding a "loyalty oath" to the Republican Party from officials just smacks of a top-down Party dogma being forced down everyones' throats. We've certainly seen this type of system before in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, where everyone pretends to utter the same Party slogans while keeping their personal opinions to themselves. This type of loyalty oath is going to hamper Republicans who may wish to work with Democrats on passing state legislation--got to make sure that the legislation is approved by the Party dogma.

A second problems with this loyalty oath is that the Republicans are driving out the moderate conservatives from their party. This oath seals the GOP's mantra of no compromise on any issue with the Democrats. This isn't just bad politics here, it is politics that will drive your party towards a minority status. Serious compromise by both political parties is necessary for good governance, and for the health of the parties. But since President Bush has taken office, we've seen how the Bush administration has indoctrinated the Republican Party with this concept of no compromise with the Democrats, and of demanding complete loyalty with the Party dogma from its members. As a result of this hard-lined extremism, the Republicans have lost control of Congress, President Bush's job approval ratings have dropped into the toilet, and conservative voters have been disheartened by the staleness of their presidential candidates. President Bush's disastrous policies have already driven away moderates and independents from the GOP. This loyalty oath by the Kansas Republican Party is going to further drive away the moderates, who will discover that there is no reason to stay within a party which demands such a top-down obedience to its ideology, while refusing to accept such alternative views and ideas.


emphasa said...

"President Bush's job approval ratings have dropped into the toilet"

You know comments like this always make me wonder: how many people are still supporting the president? According to the latest Gallup poll, the President has a 34% approval rating... That's probably about 100 million people.

Well, certainly these people are a minority to the rest of the nation; but it often gives me pause when I realize that these people probably own all the guns in the nation.

Eric A Hopp said...

Emphasa: Thank you for your comment. President Bush's poll numbers have been currently hovering around 29-33 percent, with his lowest number at 26 percent in a July 2-3, 2007 Newsweek poll. That is President Bush's base of support here--those hard-core, wing-nuttery conservatives who will happily follow Bush over a cliff. I doubt that President Bush's poll numbers will get any lower than 26 percent--it is probably going to hover in the 26-33 percent range for the remainder of Bush's term.

I wouldn't suggest that 100 million people control the fate of this nation, more likely a very small elite of extreme rich, corporate CEOs, the Religious Right leaders and the neocons control this country. And they've controlled this country by brainwashing the 100 million people that make up George Bush's base of support. You know the issues--gays want to destroy marriage, illegals taking American jobs, evil Muslim terrorists want to kill you. And all the while, this elite is enriching themselves with tax cuts for the uber-rich and greater increase in corporate power, corporate monopolies. This base may have all the guns, but they are so deluded by the hypocritical message that the Republican Party has been driving into their skulls since Ronald Reagan took office--government is evil, tax cuts good, and social issues drive the elections. You can only go so far with this type of brainwashing until Americans are going to have to start waking up and saying, "Hey, if the economy is doing so well, then why can't I find a job? Or why can't I get affordable health care?" Or any of the other questions of why we are getting screwed here. It is a house of cards that George Bush built, and we're starting to see that cardhouse come crashing down now.

I shudder to think of how many of those right-wing wackos own guns as well.