Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Pine County War

Last evening I attended the meeting of the Pine County, Minnesota Republican Party. It was an ugly affair to say the least. (Pine County, MN, adjoins Polk County, WI where I live.)

There is a move in the Pine County party to remove their chairman, Mr. Rudy Takala. All sorts of ethical charges have been brought. None of these appear to be provable. There all he said, he said sorts of things. In one rather humorous moment, a person jumped up and said, "I was there and I saw that too." Immediately two other people jumped up and said that they were also there and that's not what happened.

Mr. Takala's accusers have gotten the regional party involved which now also threatening to come and remove Mr. Takala.

As for the ethical charges, I tend to dismiss those outright as nothing but a tactic to try to turn Mr. Takala's supporters against him. I've seen it done to pastors countless times. In 99% of these cases the ethical charges are spurious if not outright slanderous.

The real issue here is a philosophical one. Are Republican officials required to give 100% support for all Republican candidates, or are they allowed to withhold personal support for some candidates? Are they allowed to criticize Republican candidates and officials when they depart from Republican values? Those attacking Mr. Takala, with the support of regional officials, are saying we must be in lock step behind our guys. Mr. Takala and his supporters are saying, no, we don't have to offer blind support. We don't have to support guys who have betrayed us time and again.

Another aspect to this is that the state leadership is very much of the liberal country club RINO variety. They don't like dissent from the more conservative grass roots. But those same conservatives are supposed to provide all the labor and energy to get their RINO candidates elected. In other words the state leadership is the plantation owners and the grass roots conservatives are the plantation slaves who'd better know their place and not get uppity. The problem is we are not slaves and we give our energy and labor when and where we choose.

In this context, it is often warned that conservatives can't win without moderates. But reverse is true as well. Moderate Republicans can't win without the conservative base. What I see in Pine County is a microcosm of what is happening all over the country. Conservatives see no value in electing another Denny Hasterate Congress. In fact it would be better if it were Democratic, so that we don't get tarred with that brush. We don't want more competent liberals. We want conservatives. It is offensive for party officials to come in and demand that we support every RINO down the list. If the Minnesota Republican Party is not careful, Pine County could be the Bull Run of their own Civil War.

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