Yesterday, the Republican National Committee in Tampa adopted some rules changes that shift power from the state parties and the grassroots to the RNC and the GOP presidential nominee. Former Governor John Sununu of New Hampshire touted the new rules as providing “a strong governing framework” for the party over the next four years. But in fact the the new rules should be very troubling and disappointing to conservative grassroots activists, because they move the national Republican Party away from being a decentralized, bottom-up party toward becoming a centralized, top-down party.
The Romney rules effectively disenfranchise grassroots delegates, and will thus tend to weaken and splinter the party over time. They specifically represent a blow to the Tea Party and the Ron Paul movement, and force grassroots conservatives of all stripes to contemplate their future within the GOP.
Party sage and long-time RNC member (and conservative activist) Morton Blackwell led a last-minute effort to stop the changes — an effort the FreedomWorks For America strongly supported, together with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Phyllis Schlafly and RNC for Life also got involved, while Michelle Malkin, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh helped sound the alarm.
But the Romney camp and RNC insiders won the day, successfully imposing their will with the help of their control of the gavels and superior knowledge of the process, and perhaps some dirty tricks. The conservative “rebels” won the moral victory, however, taking their fight to the Rules Committee and the full Convention floor and arguably winning the voice vote there to stop the rules, only to be gaveled down by Speaker John Boehner.
Yesterday’s fight offers a sobering glimpse of what life will be like for conservatives in a Romney Administration. It proves once again that sometimes we have to beat the Republicans before we can beat the Democrats.