As a precinct chair for the Republican Party in Utah County I’ve now attended 2 Central Committee meetings and a County Convention (my notes from the most recent meeting can be found in the Highland Utah Precinct 2 Blog). After a lot of reflection on these meetings I tried to think of what constructive topics were discussed and determine what I thought were productive outcomes. Sadly all that comes to mind are the following:
- Agenda wrangling
- Sniping remarks about the integrity or motives of other people
- Posturing for attention
- Accusatory remarks on spending
- Fighting about the appointment of officers in a legislative district other than ours.
A lot of the items brought up in the large meeting are really items that should be handled by smaller groups or via individual discussions. Rather wasting 200+ peoples time trying to improve an individual’s lack of understanding on specific processes or rules what if the county organization provided an online vehicle to central committee members for submitting questions and raising issues; something like moderated discussion boards or forums. These questions and responses would be visible to all members but would probably need to be moderated so that they would not be used for personal attacks.
I think a more effective use of the central committees time would be approve or disapprove of items mandated by the constitution and by-laws that have already been discussed in open forums prior to the meeting. That way opposing points of view would have already been aired "publicly" and people would have had time to reflect on the issues. Discussion could then be more focused on substantive issues rather than clarifying misunderstandings or perpetuating falsehoods.
This of course means better preparation by the county officers but I think in the end a lot of time would be saved. Certainly the C&B committee and other committees could share their reports in advance of central committee meetings. Of course this assumes that central committee members will take the time to be involved.However, I have found that if people think they can make a difference they are more apt to get involved and they maintain involvement when they feel they are making a difference.
By quickly clearing the decks of the mechanical items we could spend more time on things that I think are helpful to everyone. Reviewing best practices relative to building interest in the party, electing people to office, understanding how to influence the legislature ... . Seems to me that influencing legislative activities and electing good people to office has been taken up by organizations like the 9/12, Tea Party, Young Republicans, Republican Women's groups, ... . The county party seems spend more time arguing about internal issues than on the issues that will promote "Republican values". Perhaps if we spent more time on the latter then we could bring into the party the positive energy found in groups like the Tea Party and accomplish more. I don't mean to whine and sound like the party does nothing but I would like for it to be more effective.
The most recent meeting was better than the last one (the agenda was disposed of quickly as was a complaint about county officials) and I thought the elected official reports were quite good and interesting (too bad these happened after over half of the central committee had left).
The audit report was quite interesting as well. Evidently it was leaked in advance of the meeting which according to the audit committee head (who's last order of business was to tender his resignation) is a violation of civil law. He also said that he was subject to extreme pressure to release the report prior to presenting it to the central committee. Hmmm, shouldn't someone be looking into who leaked the report and then have them removed from the committee.