John Boehner and Eric Cantor have overlooked an important principle of "command": never issue the order that you know will not be obeyed.
The headline question is not merely rhetorical and I do have an answer for you, because our miraculous system of government (that Churchill called the worst, except for all the others) has always furnished the answer and generations before our own made liberal use of it.
Alas, we've been to busy with driving the kids to soccer or whatever mundane tasks occupy our time, and for many of us, our civics education omitted the answer that stood to serve for generations of earlier Americans.
So today, true conservatives (mostly the House freshmen) find themselves locked in another roundy-round of rebellion against House leadership to try to restore sanity to the budget process. I've heard the speaker's plan and it's brilliant. It also probably won't work because of the command principle I set forth at the beginning of this article.
And it relies too much on press perceptions that will rarely, if ever, favor House Republicans. This is not the time for "too clever by half" strategies.
I had presumed that Boehner and his staff were awake during the last election, but I may have been wrong. They apparently missed the fact that they have 73 new freshmen who were elected on the promise of getting the budget under control. Boehner should understand that these freshmen feel strongly that their promises should be kept and they feel their constituents are watching (they are).
So Boehner and Cantor proceed with the corporate GOP assumption that promises need not be kept and it's OK to hedge early in the game until all the ducks are lined up and you're ready to swoop in with a well-prepared vote that will wipe out the opposition.
They are wrong.
So back to my opening question: Who whips the whips? The answer, of course, the the members of the party's central committees. Yes, the precinct committeemen. Only a member of the central committee can whisper the word "primary" with full authority to a politician and drive an icy spike of fear into that politician's heart.
Talking heads, bloggers, and speechmakers can all assert the word "primary" - even assert it loudly as they frequently do - and evince hardly a flicker of an eyelash. I don't have to elaborate on the whip factor of a mere eyelash.
But let a few central committee members, a few county chairs, a few state party delegates drop the word "primary" backstage or in a hotel hallway, and a politician is suddenly reassessing his priorities.
So the (easy) trick is to insert those true conservatives into the various party central committees in Ohio CD8 (Boehner) and Virginia CD7 (Cantor) where they can whisper the word "primary" with full authority, full orchestration, and 4-part harmony.
Only members of these party central committees can actually make a primary happen, and the politicians know it.
Luckily, the party has made that very, very easy for us. While I don't have the numbers here for Ohio CD8 and Virginia CD7, nationwide, half or more of those governing (voting) central committee seats are vacant. And many can be filled instantly by an appointment from the county chair. And the county chairs are proving pretty accommodating (they need volunteers).
Better still, we are finding that when newcomers arrive at the party central committee in most states, they are quickly drafted upward to serve as a delegate to the state committee. There is currently a power vacuum in the party and those who stand too close get drafted in and up quickly.
party.PROCINCT.net was originally started to supply precinct walk lists for GOTV operations. But in 2011 with no big elections this year, we decided to help folks get involved in governing their party on their local and state central committees. No other form of activism will advance our cause more than getting directly involved in the governance of our party.
And it's turned out to be a place where PCs gather to trade tips and strategize after they become PCs.
This happens to be the season when most states are holding their caucuses to select CC members. Get involved now. To find out how, follow the link above and navigate to your state. party.PROCINCT.net has begun a determined drive to focus on Ohio's CD8 (Butler, Miami, Mercer,Darke, Preble Counties) and Virginia's CD7 (Henrico, Chesterfield, Rapahannock Montpelier, Page, Culpeper, Madison, Orange, Spotsylvania, Louisa, Goochland, Hanover, Caroline Counties) and fill all the vacant seats on these various central committees.
A few of those new CC members will probably be very eager to whisper the word "primary' in some politician's ear.
Cross posted for better party governance