Freedom of disassociation
Picking up on yesterday’s post regarding the actions at the 10th District Convention I attended, I wanted to expound a bit on the element of disruption at the meeting. I mentioned the aborted motion being offered to revoke the credentials of certain delegates based on their providing financial support to Democratic candidates in elections within the past year. I still consider the method of handling the situation that was employed to have been dead wrong, actually illegal (as pertains to the rules agreed upon for conducting the convention, not by criminal law), and highly unethical.
I still consider the motion to be dead wrong, spiteful, and highly divisive with no redeeming attributes.
The issue as a whole is clearly not going away, however, and it’s beneficial to look at it closely in an effort to find a way to get past it. This is my attempt to start the ball rolling. Comments with rational criticism and structured arguments in opposition are welcomed. Ad hominem attacks and any accusation involving the term “RINO” will be ridiculed as a sign of a weak mind. Assuming I don’t just delete the comment. I’ve never done that – don’t make me start.
The US Constitution does not mention in its text the term “freedom of association.” The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that such a thing is Constitutionally protected in that such a freedom is necessary in order to preserve other freedoms specifically safeguarded explicitly, such as freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. Inherent in this concept must also be that of a freedom of disassociation. You are free to associate with whomever you please. You are also free to not associate with specific persons. The issue becomes more cloudy when you’re dealing with a group rather than a single person. In our case, is the Republican Party free to not associate with a given person and, if such person is already a member, is it free to enforce a disassociation?
I would argue that private groups such as the GOP must be free to exclude persons from their association. Associations are made to gather like-minded persons together for some purpose. Perhaps it’s a chess club or a scuba-diving club or a network-security professional association that we’re talking about but the reason for the association is always the same. People with a common interest working toward a common goal gather to join in their mutual pursuits. Such groups must be able to deny membership to those they conclude do not share their common interest and to sever their association with persons already a member who demonstrate interests counter to the group’s stated goal.
Addressing the Convention this weekend specifically, I would ask of the Credentialing committee this question: If Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, and Nancy Pelosi had filed to be delegates to this Convention (set aside the residency requirements for now), had signed the paperwork and coughed up the check would they have issued delegate credentials to them? Would Ted Kennedy’s signature on a piece of paper claiming to vow support for the 10th District’s Republican candidates in the elections have been enough to permit him to participate in a GOP convention? More to the point, would anyone actually believe Nancy Pelosi when she signed such a pledge? According to the man who physically removed the microphone from the woman offering the motion yesterday (who I’ve discovered was Eve Barner), that signature was all that was required to approve the credentials. So Ms. Pelosi’s extensive history of opposition to Republican candidates, legislation, and values is to be dismissed when making the credentialing decision? I would challenge any serious member of the party to defend that notion.
So, if we agree that there are people whose actions and history make immediately accepting their membership impossible (or so difficult as to not pass muster with the committee of the whole) then what is the threshold for counting a given person among that number? If a Pelosi/Kennedy/Gore-style lifetime of opposition to the GOP – our association – is enough to deny membership but giving $1000 to Democrat Tim Kaine so he could defeat Republican Jerry Kilgore in the Virginia Governor’s race is not, then where is the line? Is it a matter of a monetary figure? Volunteering for a Democrat’s campaign? Is it OK to give money but not time, or time but not money, or you can stand outside of the polling place with a Democrat’s literature on election day but only if you’ve not donated more than $250 to them? I mean, I’m all for a big tent but, as Hugh Hewitt says in his book, “Painting The Map Red,” the tent has to have walls. There has to be a point where someone acts in a certain manner or supports the opposition enough that their membership in the association is against the common interest of the group. The issue before us is, basically, where is that point? This is a question that has not been raised, much less answered, and where the “Group B” that Vince Thoms speaks of goes off the rails is assuming that everyone agrees with them on the location of that line. They want to have the committee pronounce a guilty verdict and a sentence before they’ve gotten agreement with the rest of us that a crime has been committed.
The other part of the problem is where and how such an issue should be addressed. It is the absolute worst case scenario to stand up before a committee of the whole, gathered together for a specific purpose, and angrily call for the expulsion of a sitting delegate. Anyone not fanatically committed to such expulsions will be put off and predisposed to think the person making the motion is just being mean-spirited. In my judgement, the better place to have challenged the credentialing of a given person would have been the Credentialing Committee that was formed specifically for that purpose. That committee either 1) had no issue with the people Eve Barner mentioned in her motion or 2) didn’t know what she did. In either case, the question now is, “why not?” Either “why did they not have the same issue with them that Eve did,” or “why did they not know what Eve was able to discover?”
If they knew that these people had donated to the Dems and decided that that didn’t matter, then “Group B’s” efforts should be less toward directed political assassination and more toward getting rules established that such credentialing would not be permitted with such histories. If the committee already has those rules and the committee already knew about the donations, then why did they ignore the rules? If the committee did not know that the donations had been made, then “Group B’s” efforts should be toward getting rules established that require future credentialing committees to look for that data. If the rules already require that and the committee didn’t get the data, then why not?
This targeting of specific people during the open meetings isn’t having the effect desired by the proponents of expulsion. It’s splitting the party when we need unity. As Reagan did, I strongly suggest that the party look to incude people who agree with each other on 80% of things and not try to stomp out people for the 20% they don’t agree with. Let those people who are trying for this idealogical purge bring the matter of whether we should pursue that course to the committee as a whole and what, specifically, the triggers for that purge should be. Bring those questions to the committee first and then worry about enforcing the purity statutes after the majority has agreed with them. Assuming.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.