Shame …

Former IA Congressman Jim Nussle expressing shame over the House Bank scandal

Former IA Congressman Jim Nussle expressing shame over the House Bank scandal

I have been a Republican apologist for years. I have said that politics is a ‘team sport’ and you vote for the team that most closely matches your values — not the individuals.

People used to say to me, ‘But Dave, the GOP barely plays lip service to LIFE!’

And I have responded, ‘I know, but you can count on them to be good on marriage, the second amendment and of course holding the line on taxes!’

People used to say to me, ‘But Dave, the GOP won’t stand up to the Iowa Supreme Court on MARRIAGE!’

And I have responded, ‘I know, but you can count on them to be good on the second amendment and of course holding the line on taxes!’

People used to say to me, ‘But Dave, the GOP won’t support CONSTITUTIONAL CARRY in Iowa’

And I have responded, ‘I know, but you can count on them to hold the line on taxes!’

Today people are saying, ‘But Dave, this is a GOP TAX INCREASE!’

And I have no response … but shame :(

The Gas Tax, the platform and the GOP cowards who now support it

Let me start out by saying that I am not opposed to taxes, having moved irrevocably beyond John Locke’s State of Nature — taxes in a civil society are a necessary evil. As a conservative, I want my government to collect the necessary and sufficient taxes to competently and efficiently perform the functions mandated by the Constitution or allowed by the Constitution and mandated by the people as voiced by their legislature.

I also agree that our transportation infrastructure needs work. It is crucial to the economic health of this state to have a robust system of roads and highways.

The problem is that if the Jeopardy answer is: ‘Competent, Efficient, and operating within the Constitution’

Nobody would ever believe the question is: ‘What is government?’

I have written on the gas tax before. While I was a vocal critic of former RPI Chairman AJ Spiker  (I never get tired of saying that), one of the good things that RPI did under Spiker’s leadership was speak out and advocate for issues in our platform (life, 2nd Amendment, gas tax). I did take issue when under Spiker, RPI spoke out on issues not in our platform like medical marijuana or random traffic stops — not because I disagreed, rather because I believe that the party leadership should advocate for things the party has actually (through the platform) agreed upon.

I also spoke out when in 2014, all four district platforms opposed a gas tax increase, yet the State Platform Committee felt that they should ignore the strong message sent by the grassroots and add support for a tax increase to the State Platform. Fortunately, enough pressure was applied to the committee that they changed their position before the convention. Unfortunately, the platform adopted at convention does not address the gas tax.

So in answer to those who ask why RPI Chairman Jeff Kauffman hasn’t publicly voiced opposition to the gas tax — it is because the platform does not address it. Since I criticized Spiker for speaking Ex Cathedra (even on issues I supported) — consistency demands that I support Kaufman’s decision not to unilaterally speak out against the gas tax.

On the other hand, as I say on the about page for this blog:

… all of the commentary on this blog is my own and does not represent the position of the State Central Committee or the Republican Party of Iowa.

I do not speak for RPI. As a conservative, as a Republican, I am disgusted that my guys would support a 45% in the gas tax or any other tax! I went to a lot of events, heard many candidates speak, received their flyers, and saw their commercials. Funny thing is, I can’t remember any of them (I’ll concede that there could have been a few) who made raising the gas tax a cornerstone of their campaign.

Some may say,

Dave, be realistic, you want to have your cake and eat it too!

No, the government wants to take more of my cake and eat it too!

If I believed that our state government (no matter which party controlled it) were competent, efficient and acting within the Constitution, I could probably be convinced to support a modest increase in the gas tax. However, if the state government were operating in that way, we would have all the money we need for roads!

What’s the solution? If I may make a modest suggestion — MAKE CUTS IN THE BUDGET ELSEWHERE!!!!!

Recently my daughter criticized me for not listening to any music from this century – I told her that it’s OK because I don’t own any cars from this century either. It is time to replace our vans.

I think I’ll follow the lead of our state government and as my boss for a 45% raise!

Probably not a good plan, I guess I’ll have to put some money aside until I can afford something newer.

But when the state is getting ready to ask me for a 45% increase —  a number of my (Republican) guys are willing to go along, in fact, in this case they are the ones doing the asking :( It was no secret that the a gas tax increase would come up this session. Most of us knew that it would be the defining measure addressed by this session of the legislature.

To the Republicans in Des Moines I have this to say (I am going to be gentle and use my inside voice.)

If you didn’t campaign on raising the gas tax and you support it now: you are a hypocrite, a liar, or a coward!!! At least the Democrats are honest about wanting to take more of my money!

Lest we get on our high horse …

Crusaders in the Holy Land

Crusaders in the Holy Land

Last week something unusual happened at the National Prayer breakfast. President Obama while discussing ISIS’s atrocities committed in the name of religion had a warning for Christians. Obama said:

Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.

It was unusual partly because of the audience he addressed and the event at which he chose to do so. Predictably, reaction from Republican evangelicals was pretty harsh. Many of them still believe that Obama is muslim himself. Personally, I can only take him at his word, but I do know that he is a Keynsian :)

I thought the best response was from Louisiana governor, and likely Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal who said:

It was nice of the President to give us a history lesson at the Prayer breakfast. We will be happy to keep an eye out for runaway Christians, but it would be nice if he would face the reality of the situation today. The Medieval Christian threat is under control, Mr. President. Please deal with the Radical Islamic threat today.

But I think the most unusual thing about it is that it has prompted many of my friends on Facebook to defend the Crusades. I see a number of maps and videos popping up all over my social media feeds. These posts invariably point out that the Muslims started it. They show Muslim expansion into nearly all of Mediterranean Europe compared with the focused battles in the Holy Land. They claim that the Crusades were a response to Muslim aggression or a desire to protect Christian pilgrims on the way to the Holy Lands.

While there is some truth in what my friends are saying, they neglect to point several of the side effects of the Crusades. The Albigensien Crusade was not preached against expansionist Muslims at all, rather it targeted (and utterly wiped out) Catharism, a home-grown religion in France’s Massif Central. The several crusades left a swath of dead Jews across Europe. At the close of the Third Crusade the most famous crusader of all, Richard I (Lionheart) was imprisoned and ransomed by the (Christian)Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. The Fourth Crusade started out to do what Richard I failed to do, to capture Jerusalem. Instead due to the influential Venetian leader Doge Dandalo, the Fourth Crusade never did see the Holy Land. They we re-routed to attack and conquer the Christian city of Constantinople. While the crusaders established a short-lived Latin Kingdom they created a schism between Eastern and Western Christianity that persists to this day.

There is a great exchange in Monty Python’s Spamalot between King Arthur and his faithful servant Patsy:

Patsy: I’m Jewish
Arthur: What? Why didn’t you say so?
Patsy: Well… it’s not the sort of thing you say in front of a heavily armed Christian.

Many of these same friends are also fierce defenders of Israel yet ignore the profound and lasting effect the crusades have had on Jewish communities in Europe.

Perhaps my friends were not listening on another count. Obama compared terrorism to both the Crusades and the Inquisition. Apparently none of my friend have taken to defending the Inquisition and I am not sure why. After all the Inquisition was a great evangelistic tool converting many Jews to Christianity. Like the Jesus of the Gospel, the message of the Inquisition to heretics was repent or be tortured, burned, drowned, stretched on the rack or worse.

Obama and Jindal are both right.

Obstructionist? — In this case we should wear the label proudly!

Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch

Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch

In November, Republicans won a convincing majority in the US Senate and increased their majority in the house. However, with Barack Obama in the Whitehouse, we are unlikely to see any significant legislative initiatives actually implemented. (e.g. Keystone Pipeline)

In some ways, the best we can do is play ‘defense’ and prevent this administration from doing more damage. We Republicans fought hard to win a Senate majority. Now that we control the Senate it is up to our guys to lead.

I am not opposed to going after pyrrhic victories like Keystone, but if we are really going to lead, really going to make a difference, we need to act on those things that we really can affect. I know that if we reject this nominee, the press will label us ‘obstructionists’. Strangely, when Obama vetoes Keystone they will see his action as courageous.

In her Senate confirmation hearing, when asked whether illegal aliens have the same right to work in the United States as citizens, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch said,

Senator, I believe the right and the obligation to work is one that is shared by everyone in this country, regardless of how they came here

This nomination is the first ‘real’ test of our new Senate majority. It will not be graded on a curve, it is pass/fail. Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst, I hope you are listening.

Doing the Right Thing — the Linn County Central Committee Votes to Remove a GOP Supervisor

Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson

Supervisor Brent Oleson

The Cedar Rapids Gazette has an article titled, Linn County GOP boot prompts soul search about the recent move by the Linn County Republican Central Committee to remove GOP Supervisor Brent Oleson from its membership for publicly supporting a Democrat over a Republican nominee for state house in the last election. Olson is a successful politician, he was at one time the only Republican member of the Linn County Board of Supervisors. He was unopposed for re-election and the article points out that he received 98% of the vote. He has long been a Republican activist serving on both the county and state central committees. The strong implication in the Gazette article is that Oleson is considering leaving the GOP.

I think it would be unfortunate – I hope Oleson decides to stay in the party. But by way of full disclosure I should let readers know

I am the one who made the parliamentary motion that allowed the central committee to consider Oleson’s removal

I won’t bore readers with the procedural minutiae, The Constitution of the Republican Party of Linn County states:

A member may be removed by the County Central Committee for … active support of an opponent of a Republican nominee

I understand why Supervisor Oleson supported Democrat Daniel Lundby’s re-election bid against Republican Ken Rizer. Oelson was practically part of Lundby’s family and they are like brothers. Blood IS thicker than water and as I said at the Central Committee, Oleson did the right thing … at least half of the right thing.

In this article Oleson is quoted saying, “What I did, technically, violated the rules …” And in response the committee technically removed him from membership. It does not mean he can’t be a Republican or run under the Republican banner. It simply means that he knowingly choose a course of action in conflict with the rules of the committee.

In my opinion, in a perfect world, Oleson would have come to the committee before he went to the Gazette, and said that he was going to support his childhood friend, his ‘brother’ and knowing that such action would run afoul of our constitution, given his resignation.

It should be noted that this is not the first time in recent years that the committee has removed members for violating the same clause in the constitution. If this standard is applied to relatively unknown members, it is only fair that it be applied to high profile members like Oleson.

The vote to remove Oleson was convincing but not unanimous. In the end Oleson did the right thing, he put support for his friend, his brother above a party label, knowing that it violated the organization’s constitution and he could be removed for it. I think the committee did the right thing as well, knowing Oleson’s actions were antithetical to the goal of electing Republicans and in violation of the constitution, the committee voted to remove him, knowing that hew could decide to leave the GOP altogether.

Sometimes doing the right thing is hard.

On Race in America

E Pluribus Unum

E Pluribus Unum

There is an Eagle on the Great Seal of the United States. The eagle holds a yellow ribbon in its mouth with the Latin words E Pluribus Unum. The phrase means ‘out of many one’. Most Americans view this statement as referring to the melting pot of the United States, we are a nation of immigrants united into one nation. Many have said that with the election of the first African-American president that we now live in a post-racial America.  It’s a nice thought but it is not true — the America we live in today is as divided along racial lines as it ever was.

Most people who read this blog (or know me personally) know that I sometimes climate be Hispanic, Asian, African or Pacific Islander as the mood suits me. Indeed racially, I am all of those things, my mother was from Guam and my father was Jamaican-Chinese.

I hate to admit it, but in reality (ethnically, culturally) — I am white.

I may have some Caucasian blood since I have a couple of red-headed first cousins on my mom’s side but I cannot trace any white folks in my ancestry.  My parents were both college professors and I grew up surrounded by other kids whose parents were educated middle class professionals. Now, my neighborhood was pretty well integrated for Cedar Falls, Iowa. We had an Indian family and two black families (or three if you count us) but they were ethnically and culturally white just like me.

Twenty years ago, OJ Simpson was on trial for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. OJ of course is black and Nicole was white. I remember the trail like it was yesterday, in some ways it was the birth of reality TV. Ultimately, OJ was acquitted. Regardless of what I think about the verdict one thing was crystal clear. If you were white — you believed OJ was guilty and if you were black you believed he was innocent! There seemed to be no middle ground Americans were firmly divided down racial lines.

Fast forward about twenty years. Whether it is Trayvon Martin in Florida or Michael Brown in Missouri, America is once again divided sharply among racial lines. Nearly all of my white friends believed that both shootings were justified. Likewise a large majority of minorities (I like the phrase) are equally convinced that the shootings were not justified.

I really don’t have many African-American friends (in a state with a 3% African-American population — that’s not too unusual) I do have a fair number of African-African friends but they are statistical outliers.

So, as a nation, how do we move beyond, Simpson, Martin and Brown? One of the first things is that we all need to understand that not everyone views the world exactly the way we do.

In this case almost all of my white friends (mostly conservative Republicans) were quick to believe that Officer Wilson acted appropriately in self-defense. That if a thug who has just committed a robbery and assault attacks and attempts to disarm a police officer, they deserve to be shot.

Likewise African-Americans were quick to believe that this was a case of a white police officer over-reacting and executing a young black youth whose hands were in the air in the act of surrendering. A police officer who acts this way is a murderer and deserves to be in jail.

Some of my conservative friends on Facebook have talked about taking up arms if the government continues to infringe on their rights. A popular anti illegal immigration meme for a while was:

The founding fathers would be shooting by now.

In some ways the protesters are just doing what some of us conservatives have fantasized about (well, apart from the looting). I have personally talked about taking our wagons and pitchforks to Washington.

I am not at all trying to defend the actions of the protesters, in fact (being white) I believe that the grand jury came to the appropriate decision. I further believe that it would be a travesty for the Justice Department to try Wilson on civil rights charges. If that happens, maybe I will be in the street protesting. Perhaps I have more in common with the Ferguson protesters than I care to admit.

Politics is a Team Sport — Why I Always Vote Straight Ticket



I hear it every election year from friends and family, “I look at the issues and candidates and always vote for the best person regardless of party.” Sometimes, it is said matter-of-factly, sometimes it is said condescendingly but it is always said sincerely.

The implication is that only the naive or uninformed vote straight ticket. Nothing could be further from the truth. In nearly every election, I have had the opportunity to talk to my party’s candidate for every office from county supervisor to president. Typically I know where they stand on all of the issues I care about.

I hear this from both liberals and conservatives. Many of my conservative friends say that the lesser of two evils is still evil. I am sometimes asked whether I support principle over party or party over principle.

I am sure that I will be accused by some of being an unprincipled party shill. But let me state it as clearly as I possibly can:

Politics is a team sport, and it is precisely because I support principles over party, that I vote a straight Republican ticket every time.

You may ask, “Doesn’t that mean that sometimes, you end up voting for politicians with whom you have significant ideological differences?” My answer is yes. I live in Cedar Rapids and with re-districting we have been part of both Iowa’s first and second congressional districts. So, Over the course of several general election I have found myself casting a ballot for Jim Leach. Leach was a moderate republican in the US House and he and I would differ significantly on a number of key issues from Life to the Second Amendment. So, why did I vote compromise my principles and vote for Leach?

The answer is that politics is a team sport. Say for example, Leach had a conservative Democrat challenger, on who agreed with me on these key issues (I am not sure such a Democrat exists … but I digress). If I had voted for that Democrat and they were to win, my congressional district would have a much more conservative voice in Washington. The problem is that even a conservative Democrat (when they are in the majority) votes for a liberal Democrat Speaker of the House. Unfortunately in our current system, the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate have tremendous power in setting the agendas for their respective chambers and can unilaterally prevent legislation form even being considered.

To put it in simple terms, voting for a pro-life Democrat (is there such a thing) over a pro-abortion Repiblican (unfortunately there is such a thing)  for Iowa Senate, does nothing for personhood if Mike Gronstal remains the Majority leader in the Iowa Senate.

In order to be effective in today’s political climate, a party must hold the majority. I have chosen to align myself with the party that most closely aligns with the majority of positions I hold dear. I am not so naive to believe that everyone in my party agrees with me. But I know that almost no one in the other major party agrees with me on anything.

I currently serve on the Republican State Central Committee, essentially the Board of Directors of the Republican Party of Iowa. In 2012, I ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the Republican national Committee. I am a Republican, I vote a straight Republican ticket — because I believe that it is the best chance in today’s system to effect the changes that I believe are crucial to our nation. Even if it means that (like Jesse Benton) I have to hold my nose sometime.

Of course, if you are a Democrat, please continue to vote for some of my guys from time to time :)

The Wounded Elephant in the Room

Former Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson

Former Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson

I first met Kent Sorenson in 2009 when he was a freshman senator. Shortly after, when he dared to challenge US Senaor Chuck Grassley, I called him fearless. Sorenson was my kind of guy, a liberty-leaning, Christian conservative, willing to stand on principles and not afraid to take on the powers that be. I and the rest of the state learned today, that after resigning his seat under pressure last fall, Sorenson has pleaded guilty to two crimes relating to hiding improper payments he received from a campaign during the 2012 Caucuses. The facts of the case have been well-document by my friends at the Iowa Republican and others. Therefore, I will not spend much time discussing the details. What I find interesting today, is the reactions that I am seeing to Sorenson’s admissions from other Christians, Republicans and Libertarians. (I do want to be careful and acknowledge that these groups — especially here in Iowa — are not mutually exclusive!)

As I talk to people and observe social media, I see five different reactions (again not mutually exclusive) to the Sorenson case”

Pray for the Sorenson family. I think this is important for those of us who are of the same faith. Kent is a brother, yes he brought this upon himself but I cannot imagine what this situation must be like for him and his young family. They still have to face sentencing and the possibility of significant fines and even prison time. I am praying for Kent and his family.

He got what he deserved. I agree, Sorenson violated Senate rules and contrived to encourage a campaign to violate FEC rules in order to hide it.

I cannot wait to see who gets indicted in the two campaigns involved. While I think this is inevitable, I am not at all anxious to see this spread. The revelations that are likely to come out are going to be an unnecessary distraction in a critical election year. We Republicans have the wind at our back and we need to be focusing our energies on winning the US Senate, the Iowa Senate, picking up some US House Seats and election our stellar slate of statewide candidates.

The system makes politicians be poor or independently wealthy. I am paraphrasing a commenter on Steave Deace’s Facebook page. I agree with this sentiment. I may be the only person in America who believes that most politicians are underpaid. Iowa Senators make a base of $25,000 a year. For those who are not independently wealthy, they must then find work (or be self-employed) for the remaining months of the year in a job that allows them the flexibility to carry out their duties year-round. However, anyone who runs for office knows these facts in advance.

No victim, no crime. Also from Deace’s wall. I see this mostly from Libertarian commenters. I might even agree if Sorenson had said, “this is a bad law … and I am going to hold myself to a higher standard and act accordingly no matter what the consequences.” But Sorenson did not, he went to considerable trouble to hide his actions and avoid the consequences. He enlisted others to assist him in this deception and then he lied to his constituents about it. Some may argue that it is acceptable to lie to the Senate ethics investigator or the FBI about a bogus law. But no one can argue that it is acceptable for an elected official, one of our guys, to lie to the people of Iowa.

Just two days ago the Republican Party of Iowa, put out a press release about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch. It seems that Hatch used his position and influence in the Iowa Senate to unilaterally kill a bill that would have personally cost him millions of dollars.

The similarities are striking. No national campaign (much less two) is going to pay an unknown guy from Milo, Iowa tens of thousands of dollars to be their mouthpiece. But a well known freshman firebrand in the Iowa Senate who would be willing to publicly shift his allegiance in the last days before the Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation caucuses … now that would be something worth investing in.

I have long been critical of my fellow Republican State Central Committee members who have used their SCC positions to enrich themselves during campaign season. It should then be no surprise that I am critical of Sorenson as well. If Sorenson had not been a senator, the campaign(s) could have paid him whatever they wanted as a consultant, claimed it on their FEC filings and no one would have complained. What Sorenson sold, was not his services and his endorsement – he sold his Senate seat which belongs, not to him, but to the people of Iowa.

Danny Carroll, the new SCC and the Coup

From Tom Nichols Facebook Page

From Tom Nichols Facebook Page

After Saturday’s State Convention the new RPI State Central Committee had its first meeting. Having caucused beforehand with almost all of the newly elected (or re-elected) members of the SCC, we had decided to call for a special meeting to elect a new chair and co-chair on June 28th. After our meeting, a couple of us were going to approach Danny and Gopal and inform them privately of our plans. We wanted to give them the option of writing their own narrative about their exit. They could resign quietly and say they were moving on to seek other opportunities, or they could force a vote of the SCC on June 28th to remove them. It was always our intent to give them the choice.

During Saturday’s meeting, Danny was proactive and directly addressed the rumors that he would be removed as chair. He said that he is ‘not a quitter’ and that he ‘would not resign’. At that point, I made the decision unilaterally, to inform him that we would be calling a meeting to elect his successor on June 28th.

Since that time, I have had a handful of people ask me why I am calling to replace the chair and co-chair. (One of my colleagues on the SCC even had someone suggest on Facebook that the flooding in his hometown God’s wrath due to his upcoming vote against Danny.) I have had a couple of thoughtful phone calls and email exchanges on the topic. On Facebook, I promised to post my thoughts (as I do on most issues of importance facing the SCC) on this blog.

This is not about Danny’s faith; this is not about Danny being a conservative. I too am a Christian, born again, a sinner saved by grace. I too am a conservative, I am the one who put a Life section in our platform (pro-life planks used to be in Health and Human Services). In other circumstances, Danny and I could and should have been friends (we are even both bicyclists).  I do believe that Danny is an honorable Christian man, but I also believe that he is not the right man to lead RPI at this time and here are my reasons why.

One email I received said this is a power play on behalf of the new SCC. The power play actually began with AJ’s resignation as chairman. He resigned in order to prevent his removal by the incoming SCC. In the interim, Danny was advised not to seek to be elected by the lame duck SCC. Danny’s election was a parting shot from AJ at the new SCC.

The power play continued when Danny’s (and National Committeewoman Tamara Scott’s) employer, The Family Leader, passed out materials at District Convention stating that 14 of the people who would ultimately be elected to the SCC; were RINOS, would ignore the grassroots, had no backbone, and would simply be cheerleaders for the establishment. They also seemed to imply that we were not Christians. They didn’t choose to just support their candidates they also chose to attack anyone else that they perceived as being supported by the governor. (Interestingly, having support from the establishment was not enough to make the Family Leader single out Bill Gustoff or Gabe Haugland.) The Family Leader’s actions only further poisoned the relationship between Danny and at least 14 of the 16 SCC members.

CORRECTION: It has been pointed out to me that the materials passed out at the 3rd District Convention were NOT from the Family Leader.

I believe that leaders in the Republican Party must ultimately support the party’s nominees. (In the primary 2010 gubernatorial primary, I very publicly supported another candidate myself.) But, the primary is the ultimate act of the grassroots. Danny has said (and I believe him to be a man of his word) that he will support the governor. Unfortunately, as long as Danny is chairman, I am certain that a Jack Hatch ad will feature the Chairman of the Iowa GOP on the steps of the capitol saying he will not support Branstad even if he were to become the nominee.

Finally, this Central Committee (like every other) was elected by the grassroots and has a mandate. A mandate to run the party effectively, promote Republican values and elect Republican candidates. (Which candidates? The ones chosen by the grassroots in the primaries.) I do not believe that Danny Carroll is the right man to chair the Republican Party of Iowa and help us fulfill our mandate at this time.

The 2014 State Platform and the Gas Tax — WTF?

The proposed GOP State Platform calls for an increase in the gas tax

The proposed GOP State Platform calls for an increase in the gas tax

Two posts in a row on the platform, that must be some kind of record. Over the years, I have been as involved as anyone in crafting the platform of the Republican Party of Iowa. At my very first caucus, I was elected to my county platform committee and went on to serve on both district and state platform committees as well. In 2008, I was honored to represent Iowa on the national platform committee. I have chaired numerous county, district and state platform committees and over the years I have spent countless nights into the wee hours of the morning in committee meetings agonizing over the platform.

This year I decided to focus my energies on rules, with the possibility that our senate nominee will be chosen at convention, it is absolutely essential that our rules be in order (pun intended)! I was elected chairman of both the district and state rules committees. Even so, my heart is still with the platform. I feel bad because I turn my back (on the platform) for one caucus to convention cycle and my district platform no longer supports traditional marriage while the state platform calls for a tax increase.

Why such a fuss over the platform? What is the platform anyway? As a platform insider I would like to share my thoughts on what the platform is and what it means.

Some in our party view the platform as an inviolable sacred document that defines the bedrock principles for which are party stands. Those who hold this view believe that the platform is the ultimate expression of the will of the grassroots and Republican (or so-called Republican) officeholders had better follow it to the letter or face the consequences.

Others suggest that the platform is assembled by the most extreme elements of the party. They say the platform is written only by those who are willing to stay until the very end of our conventions and sit through hours of debate or those willing to serve on platform committees sometimes meeting for more that 12 hours at a stretch. The platform then does not represent the party at large, rather it represents the fringe and can be safely ignored by GOP office-holders. In fact the platform may not do any good at all, the only time you hear of it is the day after it is approved when Jan Mickelson, Kathie Obradovitch or Craig Robinson find something to criticize in it.

The truth as usual is somewhere in between. If I did not believe the platform was important, I would not pour my heart and soul into it year after year. On the other hand I know that some people think I am part of that fringe group of party extremest mentioned above.

Of course since I was re-elected to the SCC this year — most of the Liberty Folk and the Family Leader believe that I am a ‘RINO, elitist, statist, establishment, un-principled lapdog of the governor and congressman King. Don’t worry, I am not losing any sleep over it :)

I think I can sum up what I think about the platform by recounting an incident that happened in 2000. I was chair of the 1st District Platform Committee and our district convention was in Cedar Rapids. The proposed platform contained the following plank:

We support a ban on party funds, including soft money, at all levels for candidates who support abortion.

No question the plank was controversial. An amendment was filed to remove the plank and when it came to a vote, it was too close to count. Rather than try, as chair I asked for a standing division even before a delegate could. When the sergeants-at-arms did their count, I had them count all of the conventions officers on the podium who were delegates as well, clearly every vote was going to make a difference. When the votes were tallied the amendment to remove the plank had received a majority by a single vote (something like 275-274)! I announced the vote like this:

On the amendment to remove the plank, the vote count is 275 in favor 274 opposed — the chair casts a no vote creating a tie. Therefore, failing to achieve a majority, the amendment fails — the plank remains in the platform!

It was definitely the closest I have seen to a riot at one of our conventions. I think the parliamentarian and I had to explain at least four times from the podium that the chair can indeed (if he is a delegate) vote to make or break a tie.

Afterwards a house candidate sought me out, he was very angry and asked me to explain myself. He said that he was pro-choice and this plank made him feel not welcome in the party. I told him this:

I support this plank being in our platform. The platform is a statement of principles. And I do want to make it clear to you and candidates like you that your position on this issue is out of sync with the mainstream of the party. I do intend to make you uncomfortable advocating for pro-choice policies. Now if I were on the State Central Committee, it would be a different story. I believe that the SCC should support all Republican candidates on the ballot in November.

So, what do I believe about the platform? I believe it is a statement of principles for the party. Yes, I understand that is is put together primarily by die-hards like me. Must every candidate follow to the letter everything declared in it? No. In fact as we see, the platform sometimes does a 180 from year to year. But the platform does represent the point of view of a portion of the party (how large a portion is up for debate), these people are committed to ideology and when a candidate motivates them they are a force to be reckoned with.

So, while I like the idea of a shorter more concise platform, but I do not think we must have a platform our candidates can run on. I think we must have candidates who can run on our platform.

As to the gas tax, apparently the State Platform Committee added this plank unilaterally. Craig Robinson reports that the plank supporting an increase was added, even though all four district platforms explicitly opposed a gas tax. Ultimately, it will be up to the State Convention to remedy this. My guess is that I will be up to my ears in rules all day but I am certain that others will take up the fight.

Finally, for those who are wondering about the title of this article, I am an Android programmer. In android the most serious error message is a WTF error it stands for What a Terrible Failure :)