Monday, July 25, 2016
OBSERVATIONS OF A HAS BEEN!
by Steve Fair
The 2016 GOP Convention is in the books. Businessman Donald J. Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. Indiana Governor Mike Pence is the vice presidential nominee. This was my fourth straight GOP Convention. When the gavel fell, I completed my four year term as National Committeeman. Here are my observations about the state of the GOP:
First, Rules: There was a great deal of discussion about the rules and the movement to allow delegates to be ‘unbound’ and to ‘vote their conscious.’ Thankfully, that got nowhere, because whether you like Trump or not, he won fair and square under the rules. The unbound crowd didn’t have a leg to stand on because most states bind their delegates to the results of the presidential preference primary or caucus.
It was disappointing a proposal to give states like Oklahoma, who have closed primaries, more delegates than states that have open or jungle primaries failed in the convention rules committee. Party primaries should be closed. Republicans should select the Republican nominee. Independents and Democrats should have no voice in who the GOP nominee is. If you want to vote in the Republican primary, register Republican. Amazingly about half the states have open primaries and allow non-Republicans to vote in the primary. Crazy idea! The Baptists don’t let the Presbyterians vote on who their pastor will be. Allowing those who are not Republicans to vote in the GOP primaries encourages people to ‘play with their vote.’ They can vote for the ‘weakest’ candidate so their preferred candidate will win the general election. For the proposal to be voted down shows a disregard for grassroots Republicans. Ironically, both of the delegates who proposed the idea to reward states with closed primaries are from states that have ‘open or jungle primaries.’ Perhaps they should spend their time lobbying their legislature to change their primary system instead of trying to reform the RNC rules, but then they wouldn’t get near the publicity laboring in the trenches at home than hot-dogging for the cameras.
Second: Platform: The platform passed by the RNC was conservative. It left in the plank supporting traditional marriage and was very pro-life. I commend the platform committee for their work, but the fact is Trump could care less that the GOP platform says. I seriously doubt he has read it. That is a fundamental problem in the GOP. The grassroots of the Party spend their time drafting resolutions and platform planks instead of working to get principled, ethical people to office. There must be a long-term commitment to electing principled conservatives from dog catcher to the White House. That commitment must include knocking doors, raising money, and sacrificially helping those candidates get elected and then holding them accountable.
Third: Division: The GOP is as divided as I have ever seen it. Anyone who has been involved in the political process more than a year is branded, ‘establishment.’ Political purity is required to cooperate or communicate with others. Factions are everywhere and those who are not in your click are branded RINOs. There is little civility and certainly no one who is involved in GOP politics is having any fun. Meetings are contentious and argumentative. Political Phariseesism rules the day. Everyone believes that are right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong. Candidates, at all levels, lose elections, but don’t concede. They keep their organizations together to ‘save America.’ They claim they are team players, but play the game like spoiled brats- and their followers blindly follow and justify their arrogance.
Can the GOP come together and defeat Hillary? Probably not for the very reasons I just cited, but even if Trump is elected, the Republican Party is a vastly different Party than it was just twelve years ago. No unity and no permanent infrastructure. Fundamentally, until a dose of humility is swallowed by some of the party leaders and elected officials, expect things to get worse before they get better.So what is the long term answer to fixing America and the divide in the Republican Party; Grassroots citizens taking equity in their government at the local level ALL THE TIME, not just every two years. Until citizens truly start paying attention ALL THE TIME, we will get the candidate who has the ‘best marketing plan’ and not necessarily the best candidate. If voters did their homework and researched candidates, the big money would dry up in politics and ‘We the People’ would really run the country. But then that requires a personal commitment from people beyond watching Fox News or MSNBC every night.
Monday, July 18, 2016
by Steve Fair
The first day of the 2016 GOP convention is in the books. Speakers included two Oklahomans- Governor Mary Fallin(who will also speak on Thursday night) and OKC Mayor Mick Cornett in the afternoon session. Prime time speakers were Willie Robertson, former Governor Rick Perry, Marcus Luttrell, Oz and Tig from 13 hours in Benghai, Sheriff David Clarke, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Melania Trump. The theme of the evening session was “Make America Safe Again.” Donald Trump made a brief appearance and before he introduced his wife declared: “We are going to win! We are going to win so big!” I have never seen a politician other than Reagan who can fire up a crowd like Trump. He is confident, self-assured and fearless. Those are characteristics of exceptional leaders. While there is still a Never Trump movement among the delegates, his wife’s address tonight may have moved some. A delegate I spoke to after her speech told me: “I like her. She seems so together and humble. I can get on the Trump bandwagon now after hearing her.” That may not be the response of all women, but it is a start.
Trump’s family is scheduled to speak throughout the convention. Many on the RNC think Ivanka Trump is Donald’s secret weapon with women. She speaks on Thursday, when the theme is “Make America one again” Continental Resources’ Harold Hamm speaks on Wednesday night.
Enthusiasm is high among the Oklahoma delegation. The city of Cleveland has done an amazing job and security is very tight. There are a lot of receptions/events in the course of the week hosted by elected officials and sponsors. Governor Fallin sat with the delegation on the floor Monday night for over an hour. Oklahoma is sitted to the right of the speaker, directly behind Alabama. Oregon is across the aisle.
The business of the convention: rules, platform, and credentials went off with little fanfare. The effort to unbind the delegates failed to gain significant support among the 112 members of the rules committee. They needed to have 28 members sign off on a minority report to get to the floor. They got less than half that. The platform committee crafted a very conservative platform, leaving in the traditional marriage plank intact. The platform is also very pro-life and strong on the second amendment. An attempt to consolidate the platform into a one page ‘statement of principles’ failed to pass the committee. The Credentials committee dealt with several ‘disputes’ in delegations, most notably the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some mainlanders moved to the island and out organized the small state Party and took over. While questionable what their motive and tactics were/are, they were within the rules to do so and were seated as delegates. No roll call votes were taken today, in spite of an attempt to have the rules committee vote be taken by roll call.
National Conventions present opportunities to meet other like-minded people. I met Robert J. Dechert from Ontario, Canada. He is a former member of the Canadian Parliament. In 1994, Dechert formed the “Blue Committee,” a group of conservatives who ultimately formed the Conservative Party of Canada. Dechert was defeated last year, when Canada kicked out the conservatives and the liberals won 184 seats and installed Justin Trudeau, Pierre Trudeau’s son, as prime minister. He is here as a guest of Oklahoma state auditor Gary Jones. Very interesting gentlemen who is planning to launch an effort to take back Canada from the liberals. He also told me that Canada is ‘paying for a $4 billion bridge’ from Detroit to Windsor because 25% of the goods exchanged between the two countries goes over that bridge. Dechert said, “Mexico will pay for the wall. I have no doubt the political pressure will be such they will have to pay for the wall because of trade.”
Tomorrow morning(Tuesday) Governor Scott Walker will speak at our delegation breakfast. Congressmen Cole and Lucas are here at the hotel and Senators Lankford and Inhofe will be here later in the week. The spirits of the 43 delegates and 40 alternates is high. Pray for a safe convention. Unity would be great, but safety is our primary concern.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
TENURE AS NCM COMES TO A CLOSE!
by Steve Fair
Tomorrow. I leave for Cleveland, Ohio to attend my last Republican National Committee meeting as Oklahoma National Committeeman. When the gavel falls and the GOP convention is adjourned, my four year term will come to an end. I chose to not seek re-election to the RNC for a number of reasons and I have peace that I made the right decision. I have served as one of the 56 members of the rules committee the entire four years and have enjoyed working with some of the most dedicated, principled Americans I have ever met. I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. My replacement has already been elected and will take office on Friday after the convention.
On Monday, July 18th, the national convention will convene for the purpose of nominating our candidates for President and Vice President. This week, the various convention committees are meeting: Rules, Platform, and Credentials. Each of the 50 states and 6 territories have two representatives on each committee. I chose not to seek election to the rules committee( the 43 Oklahoma delegates elect the representatives to the committees). The male member from Oklahoma is State Auditor Gary Jones. Normally, the meetings are routine and not very controversial, but there is a group on the convention rules committee who want to ‘unbind’ the delegates and allow each delegate to vote their conscience. As of this writing they haven’t been successful at getting the 28 needed to get it to the convention floor. Fact is, like Trump or not, he won the race fair and square and stealing the nomination would be a move that could permanently destroy the Republican Party.
It also appears the platform committee meeting may be headed to a showdown. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is the Co-Chair of the Platform committee. There is a movement to ‘tone down’ the platform stance on same-sex marriage and some of the more conservative in the Party are committed to keeping the current plank in place. Gun control is another plank under attack. Most of the members of the platform committee are Party regulars and conservative, so major changes are not likely to happen.
This will be my fourth convention and what normally happens is the Vice Presidential nominee accepts the nomination and gives their speech on Wednesday night. The Presidential nominee accepts the nomination on Thursday night, but the word is that Donald Trump wants to speak every night. Trump has run an unconventional campaign, so expect the convention to be unconventional.
Stephens County will be well represented in Cleveland. Hope Sutterfield, the Stephens County GOP Chair, is the youngest female delegate. Hope was the first delegate elected at the 4th district convention. Her dad, Richard Sutterfield, is going as an Alternate Delegate. Stephens County will have more people at the convention than any rural county in the state. Hope plans to post lots of photos and report from Cleveland. Watch the Stephens County GOP Facebook page for live updates.
Oklahoma has 43 delegates and 40 alternates to the convention. We also have over 100 guests who attend. Unlike the Democrats, statewide elected officials are not automatic delegates. In fact, we have only five elected officials-legislative & county- in our delegation. Gary Jones is the only statewide elected official to be a delegate. Senators Lankford and Inhofe, and Congressmen Cole and Lucas will attend and interact all week with the delegation.
To a political junkie, going to a national nominating convention is like going to the Super Bowl for a football fan. Being one of the 2,472 delegates on the floor when the nominee accepts the nomination is electric. Throughout the week, I post to my blog a recap of the day’s events, sometimes with photos. It will provide you a great ‘behind the scenes’ look at the convention. Donald Trump is an exciting candidate, whose unorthodox style and outsider approach has energized the average American about politics. He is different, but different isn’t always bad.
Monday, July 4, 2016
Weekly Opinion Editorial
THE RULE OF LAW
by Steve Fair
The phrase ‘rule of law’ is the legal principle that law should govern a nation, as opposed to being governed by arbitrary decisions of individual government officials. Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish Presbyterian minister, wrote a book titled, The Law and the Prince in 1644 which argued against the divine right of kings. But the concept of ‘rule of law’ was addressed in 1215 in the Magna Carta, a document signed by King John recognizing the rights of his subjects to own property. The Magna Carta planted the seeds that no one was above the law, not even the king. Founding father, John Adams said the very definition of good government and a republic is ‘an empire of laws.” But it appears that Hillary Clinton doesn’t believe the law applies to her.
On Saturday, the FBI interviewed Hillary Clinton for 3 ½ hours regarding her use of a personal email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. Accordingly to the FBI, over two thousand emails were found on the server, 65 which were deemed ‘Secret’ and 22 deemed ‘Top Secret.’ In order to get top security clearance, Clinton signed an agreement to handle classified information according to accepted protocol- and that didn’t include having a private email server.
Clinton appears to have clearly violated the Federal Records Act, which makes it unlawful to mishandle classified information. By using the private server, she also violated the Freedom of Information Act, which requires government make records available to the public. If any other American had done this, they would be paying fines and facing criminal prosecution. The investigation into this security breach has been going on since March 2015 and the FBI is expected to finally issue their report within the next couple of weeks. But will anything happen to Hillary? Back in April, President Obama said that while Clinton was careless by using the private server, national security was not endangered. This presidential pronouncement was made in the middle of an FBI investigation, which was unprecedented and sent the message that Obama had her back. And who really believes that President Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch were talking ‘grandkids’ on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport? The person who will make the decision on whether there is enough evidence to prosecute Clinton is having a chance meeting with her husband? This was unacceptable behavior by the nation’s chief cop to accept the meeting. No doubt, they never thought word would get out about the meeting.
Richard Nixon didn’t believe the rule of law applied to him. He placed himself above the law and his crime was one of covering up a two bit break-in to get political campaign information. The cover-up cost him the presidency- and it should have. People went to jail, including the Attorney General of the U.S., the special counsel to the President, and several staffers. Nixon lived out of the rest of his life in disgrace. But Clinton knowingly violates an agreement to handle national security correspondence in a responsible way and it appears nothing will happen? If she is elected president, do we have any confidence at all, she will follow the rule of law? This is not about politics. This is about our way of life, our system of government- the rule of law. This should be deeply disturbing to every American, no matter their political leanings. No elected official should be above the law. If that is the case, then no one should be subject to the law. Roman statesman Cicero said, “We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.” There is more at stake here than Clinton’s political future. Without the rule of law, we have no country.