"America is on fire and it is in desperate need of leaders and thinkers and doers - not political pyromaniacs."
At first it seems a parochial issue; a handful of old cranks desperately trying to find a way to hold onto "power" (whatever exactly that is) in Fauquier Republican politics.
Realizing that they couldn't win an intra-party election outright if only Republicans and conservatives voted, they import Democrats and "green" environmental activists to push them over the goal line - not dissimilar to the slating fights of the past summer in the 5st and 7th Congressional districts where the "old guard" attempted to manipulate convention delegations.
The difference is that in Fauquier County when the old guard was caught breaking the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) rules, they actually filed suit against their own Party for enforcing those rules!
However, when you do a little spade work, the more you realize that the recent brouhaha in Fauquier County is emblematic of the problems in the statewide GOP organization, and in the national Party structure as well. Intra-party fights have been very brutal, and there are a number of state elections that could turn on the organized effort of the "establishment" Republicans to purge the party of Reagan-style or Tea Party backed candidates.
It's the attack of the "Chicago Republicans," (think Obama and Rahm Emanuel here).
They are party "careerists" or apparatchiks who like their Democrat cohorts, could care less about ideas and principles, but concern themselves with accumulating and using "power," in whatever form they can, by whatever means possible, for its own sake.
These Republicans would rather lose elections than see elected offices go to strong conservatives, and they have done so frequently.
We are seeing the national consequences of this right now as discredited GOP Establishment-supported Senate incumbents or candidates stumble in the polls jeopardizing the hope of retaking that chamber; made worse by the old guard's public attacks demeaning the conservative base.
It's not really a new phenomenon; it's just more critical now because America is on fire and it is in desperate need of leaders and thinkers and doers - not political pyromaniacs.
In a nutshell what happened in Fauquier County is that a canvass was held that elected Scott Russell as chairman over conservative Cameron Jones. The only problem was that the "establishment" in Fauquier cheated and failed to follow the rules set forth by the RPV and the Party Plan. In August, the State Central Committee (the elected leaders of the RPV) upheld a decision by the district committee, and overturned the results and called for a new election.
In a bizarre move, Russell joined long time liberal Republican activist Jim Rich to file suit against the RPV claiming that its rules are&well, rules, and they don't like them.
At the first Fauquier County Republican Committee (FCRC) meeting after the RPV ruling, in early September, Russell supporters held a meeting and replaced some of the existing committee members with Russell's own supporters. The meeting was railroaded Chicago-style by Rich, a former 10th Congressional District Chairman. No questions, no arguments, no shame. Once the parliamentary jujitsu ended, the pre-canvass slothfulness and irrelevancy of the FCRC leadership was reinstated.
(Russell is the new executive director for Mike Farris' Convention of States Project - an ironic twist if there ever was one.)
Jim Rich remains as a festering rash in this whole affair. He has a long history in Republican politics as a hugely destructive, divisive force, with a bad habit of publically trashing Republican candidates.
Now, Rich, along with Russell, takes his contentious and destructive brand of Chicago politics into the courts, distracting from the effort of getting Republicans elected in November.
The drama in Fauquier, the Commonwealth, and the nation this year reveals a lamentable moral:
The Republican Party has become a dysfunctional anachronism that is essentially irrelevant to the outcome of modern political campaigns. It now exists to cheerlead from the sidelines and make sure the consultants are well paid; but unlike its Democratic opposition, the Republicans as a serious political organization have not learned how to use the media, social platforms, protests, micro-targeting and organization to back up candidates. Worse still, while the radical Democrats have perfected messaging in the broader culture, the "establishment" Republicans treat serious ideas and principles like Superman does Kryptonite.
This fall's elections for better or worse are already largely baked, but 2016 is still being put together.
After two "moderate" candidates in a row have failed to win the White House because they have gotten successively fewer working class and middle income voters, the ongoing battle for the soul of the conservative movement could not be more important; in Fauquier County, in Virginia and all across the nation.
Mike Giere has written extensively on politics, foreign policy, and issues of faith. He is a former candidate for the US House; worked for Ronald Reagan in 76 & 80; and served in both the Reagan and Bush (41) Administrations.