Fair elections (in which everyone has an equal voice) are good. Special carveouts for identity groups are bad. I thought that was what the GOP stood for, but apparently not. The NHGOP’s bylaws stipulate that three specific Republican groups (NH Federation of Republican Women, the Young Republicans, and the College Republicans) are each entitled to a voting seat on the party’s Executive Committee (aka the “eBoard”).
This ostensibly gives voice to groups that are doing good things and share common cause with the goals of the NHGOP. But some would argue that groups whose membership or member voting rights are limited by age, gender, or student enrollment status should not be granted this kind of special status. Instead, all of the seats on the eBoard should be determined by the same sort of open, participatory democratic process that is used to determine party officers, regional vice-chairs, etc.
At last week’s NHGOP annual meeting, a bylaws amendment was proposed which would have relegated these identity-group seats to non-voting status on the eBoard. It seems reasonable; after all, members of the state committee have no voice in naming those three members to the eBoard. Imagine if our nation’s founders had designated seats in Congress for which only people between the ages of 18 and 40 (Young Republicans) could cast a vote or which could only be elected by college students?
Most of what we heard in the floor debate on this amendment was an embarrassing flurry of emotional protests and appeals to identity politics.
We heard that if we take special status away from NH Federation of Republican Women, then we are sending a message that we don’t value the contributions of women. If we take the special status away from the College Republicans, then we’re a bunch of stodgy old folks who just don’t want to welcome young people into the party.
Another eBoard member argued that the NH GOP needs “more hellos and fewer goodbyes.”
By extension, he was arguing that the more groups to whom we grant special status as voting members of the eBoard, the better. Really? Should every group that signs on to the GOP platform get a vote on the eBoard?
During the debate, one member of the state committee asked this very reasonable question: where is the limit to creating special carveouts on the eBoard? There are, after all, lots of activist groups out there that explicitly sign on to the goals of the Republican Party. Why not give voting seats to all of them? Where does it end? Where should we draw the line between groups that get a voting seat on the eBoard and those that don’t?
Funny You Should Ask…
According to Tammy Simmons, the idea of allocating a voting seat on the eBoard to the Log Cabin Republicans was discussed recently by the eBoard but it was too late to propose a bylaws amendment for this year’s meeting. So presumably next year’s annual meeting will include a debate over adding a carveout for the Log Cabin Republicans.
To be clear, I appreciate the contributions of all these groups that are working to advance Republican principles. The College Republicans, it was noted, knocked on over 30,000 doors during the 2018 election cycle. That’s phenomenal and well worth our appreciation. The NH Federation of Republican Women, likewise, is a great organization that does a lot of good work.
The question is not whether we value the contributions that these organizations make. The question is whether we value an open democratic process, and how far we want to go down the path of identity politics within the NH GOP?
Identity politics is a favorite tool of the Democrats, and it is poison. Its end result is to sacrifice the individual at the altar of group identity. Republicans should be standing for fairness, openness, and a system where everyone has an equal voice. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the prevailing view right now in the NHGOP.