I love conservative talk radio. In fact, it was Rush Limbaugh who I first heard mention Redstate, four years ago. I never dreamed how that one little click on a website would change my life, take me from harmless tech blogger to determined political activist.
I started writing here, commenting on other people’s posts, and getting to know the community. Then one day Erick announced that the site would be taking a more activist direction. No more navel-gazing treatises on the impact of Sir Francis Bacon on Enlightenment thought. We were going to do stuff.
Then came the Committeeman Project. Redstate’s ColdWarrior single-mindedly and tirelessly pushed us to join our local Republican Party organanization and become Precinct Committeemen. It seemed there was no subject so seemingly unrelated that he couldn’t tie it in somehow to getting conservatives to take back the Party.
So one day I made a couple of phone calls, and found out that sure enough, the Precinct Committeman (PC) slot in my little county was available.
That was a year ago. I’ve become active in the local party organization, and during this election period am walking the streets of my little town every day, knocking on doors and putting out signs.
And when I go to parades, county fairs, and chicken dinners for the various candidates, I mention the magic words “precinct” and “committeeman” and all of a sudden they listen to me. I get to tell them I want smaller government, lower taxes, and safe streets. The politicians listen because they know I’ll be talking to the voters.
When I call my Congressman, I still have to remind him who I am. But there’s no brush off and a form letter, not after I mention the magic words.
All because Rush Limbaugh mentioned Redstate one day.
So now a caller to Rush’s show mentioned the Committeeman Project. I’ll let Chuck from Cooksville, IL, tell his story:
RUSH: Here’s Chuck. Chuck in Cooksville, Illinois. Welcome to the EIB Network, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, I wanted to talk to you and the Tea Party supporters out there. I talked to a lot of them and I’ve been an activist for a long, long time, longer than I care to knit. A lot of people are unaware. They’ve gotten involve in candidacies and that’s great, we’re making a lot of progress there but a lot of people seem to be unaware of what they can do to actually get directly involved in and take over the Republican Party. There’s a process called the Precincts Committeeman process where you go in, as long as you’re registered Republican, go to your state Republican website, find out what district you’re in, and when your district meeting is when, where, and go there and say, “I’d like to volunteer to be a [precinct] committeeman.”
It may seem a little dramatic to say “take over the Republican Party”, because really we’re going to reinvigorate it. Conservative PCs are going to fill the empty positions in the party ranks, and gently but firmly tell the people who are just there for the free coffee and the “greetings in the marketplacces” to move along. When the time comes to recruit candidates, we will have solid 3-pole conservatives to recommend.
CALLER: They will appoint you to be a [precinct] committeeman, if you go in there with your likeminded friends and family members and so forth. As precinct committeeman then you vote for your precinct captain, and your district’s chairperson and eventually your state chairperson.
RUSH: That’s right.
PCs vote on the County Chairman. In Illinois the County Chairmen elect the State Select Committee, though there is a nominating process. The State Select Committee elect the State Chairman, though in practice they often merely rubber-stamp the Governor or Governor candidate’s choice.
CALLER: And you can literally take over the party that way.
RUSH: This is one of the ways to do it. Precinct level. Let me tell you, we were talking about these campaign consultants last week and the fact that they work in this area ten to 20%, the undecided. That’s where they get paid. To sway voters. They’re working at the precinct level. I mean, that’s how deep involved they are — and that’s not ideological at all, as far as they’re looking at. But, yeah, precinct county member, or precinct committee member or captain is exactly a great, great starting point if you’re talking about grassroots takeover.
I think what Rush would have said, if he’d had more time, is that PCs get to find out who their people are and who belongs to the other side. At the precinct level, voters aren’t just headcounts and probabilities, but real people. Some have only a vague understanding of politics while others are deeply involved, if only from the sidelines.
The PC gets a lot of thankless tasks. But in the end, it’s all worth it when you get to say those magic words: “Precinct Committeeman”.