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Wednesday, October 18th, 2017Last Update: Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 01:57:38 PM

You Cant Get There from Here

By: Richard Engle

Many of my friends know that from time to time I drive with Uber. I do it mostly late at night on weekends so as to provide a safe, sober ride home for my neighbors. I will admit that I also steal stories from drunk people for use by characters in upcoming works of fiction.

Despite the grid pattern of major thoroughfares in central Oklahoma, sometimes I find myself in an unfamiliar neighborhood being given a destination that makes me want to reply, “You can’t get there from here.”

Of course, you always can get there. It’s just that sometimes the most direct route is surprisingly indirect. I have found myself wondering for more than a moment exactly how one would navigate an efficient route. Even with two GPS systems in my vehicle, it can take a while.

This is how I have come to feel about political activism. You really can’t get there from here.

Of course, one must be clear about where “here” is and where “there” is. Let me suggest that “here” is a woefully bloated government which lost all view of the Constitution in its rear view mirror decades ago.

“There” is a land of constitutional governance. “There” we hold firmly to the principle that the purpose of government is limited to securing our rights to life, liberty and property. “There” everyone would admit that when government does anything more (even really good things) it is tyranny, and “there” everyone avoids tyranny. “There” we have the rule of law. “There” we have an understanding that violating the “supreme law of the land” is a supreme violation of the law. “There” we treasure our liberty, and understand that our personal liberty ends only if and when it violates the life, liberty or property of another. “There” we agree that the powers delegated to the government came from the people, and thus the government doesn’t have any power the people didn’t have first. “There” we don’t have a private sector. We have a very small seldom considered government sector which has little to no impact on the economy or our daily lives. “There” does not exist. “There” is and always will be a utopia, literally.

Sir Thomas More wrote his novela, Utopia as a farce. He understood that a vision of a perfect society would never exist. In fact, the word “utopia” means “nowhere.” He also understood that we should strive for the best, most principled government we can envision. I often say, the only certain way of not hitting the bulls eye is to not aim for it.

My analysis was that the best way to get “there” was through the Republican Party. I will say that I still believe that the most direct route to “there” is and should be through the GOP. That said, there are three entities that are the Republican Party. There are the mass of voters who are registered or vote Republican, the elected officials who have an “R” beside their name, and the party structure. I speak of the structure. It can and should be an arm of the grassroots. It can control the nominating process of the party, securing that its nominees are held to the standards leading us toward “there.”

After decades of activism in the party structure, I have come to agree with the many politicians who freely state that the “Party doesn’t matter.” It neither helps nor impedes the nomination or election of its candidates. It does not and will not hold them accountable, nor will it be held accountable.

It is a fully corrupted entity. In Oklahoma that corruption is so very institutionalized that many Republicans think the corruption to be correct and good. They think the party should be a tool in the hands of the elected officials, even when they violate every plank of the platform. They think it a cheerleader rooting for the team with the same colors even when they run the wrong way down the field.

How is it corrupt? Let me count the ways. To simplify, let’s look at the process of activism in the party structure. You are supposed to go to precinct meetings and choose (elect) delegates to the county convention. Few counties have precinct meetings, and those who do almost never have them in the precinct. Even then the county leadership is most often given allowance to add names to the roster who were not chosen by their precinct. The attitude expressed is “the more, the merrier,” but we wouldn’t have that attitude in our Legislature. Imagine if the Governor said, “I know these people didn’t even run for the seat, and you won it fair and square, but I’m adding them anyway because the more the merrier.” You would rightly find that a gross violation of democratic principles, and you would say it is an effort to override the will of those who bothered to vote. Yet, we accept it in our party structure.

The same happens from the county to the state convention. Once the powers that be know who is coming, they can find sycophants to add to the roster and secure victory for themselves. It happens most of the time. Occasionally, they find themselves to be inept at their own corrupt endeavors.

Those “powers that be” in the state GOP are evading any real power. They work tirelessly to prevent the party from being anything more than meaningless. This keeps them in good with public officials who don’t want the party telling them what being Republican means and they certainly don’t want it to impose any standards based on the platform! It is possible that those politicians are bragging, rather than bemoaning, when they say the party is impudent.

Getting a large group of constitutional, liberty minded, limited government conservatives to get involved will not improve anything. Instead, it will show them that no matter the numbers, those who see the convention registration in advance can always add to the numbers in a way to overrun the properly elected delegates. Sadly, it is a futility to be active in the one institution with the most promise.

No matter how circuitous the route taken, those who wish to reform and reinvigorate the party structure will be shown yet another detour, leading to ever more delays in getting “there” or even to a place that could lead toward that destination.

This corrupt system is even worse in some states (Louisiana) and hardly exists in others (Utah), but it is pervasive across the country. I have joined the masses that have given up.

I have not, and will not, give up on my principles. I will redirect them toward public elections. Sadly, the state is less corrupt in how it operates and I find more opportunity for reform there.

About Richard Engle

Richard Engle is President of BellWest America. He has long been a fixture in conservative Republican politics in Oklahoma. He was twice elected to the Bethany City Council, served two terms as President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, and over a decade as Vice President of the Oklahoma Conservative PAC. He is married to Denise Engle, Commissioner for the Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission and they live in Oklahoma City. He may be reached by email at: engle@flash.net

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