If you're looking to understand why the state Republican Party is so dysfunctional, you need only explore the platform change proposed by Sen. Jeff Siddoway of Terreton. The chairman of the Senate's Local Government and Taxation Committee hoped to make sweeping reforms in the document that outlines what Republicans stand for.
Siddoway's plan was to remove vague planks, which is probably a noteworthy goal. But he didn't stop there, arguing "we should eliminate those provisions with which do not have general support among our constituents."
Siddoway's proposal would have stripped out most of the platform preamble, including "We believe the United States Constitution is the greatest and most inspired document to govern a nation, and the republican form of government it gives us is the best guarantor of freedom in history" and "We believe free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation and state opportunity, economic growth and prosperity."
A platform plank calling for a reform of Congress and a plank calling for the government to stay out of early childhood education (both of which I wrote in 2008 as a delegate from Canyon County) were to be removed.
Still other planks in defense of the 10th Amendment, and in support of state control of federal lands, underwent Siddoway's surgery and were proposed for deletion.
But the proposal never was debated. The platform committee was so livid at Siddoway's rewrite that it instantly shot it down without debate.
Still, I think Siddoway's proposal underscores the party rift. Some merely want to do their part to elect Republicans. Period. Others want to make their mark on policy with a vigorous, specific statement of what makes their party different from others. It's not just a clash of ideas; it's a clash over how much the party should be about policy and how much it should be about electing candidates with certain letters next to their names.
Put another way, for years, candidates and party officials have looked at the party delegates and precinct committeemen as the "booster club" for the ball team. But some in the party want to be recognized as team owners, not mere rabid fans. And like any owners, they're looking for results, not just a participation trophy.
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