Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Escaping from the Illinois GOP Central Committee's Trick Box on Pat Brady (UPDATED x2- Meeting Postponed))

[UPDATE 3/9/13 7:00 am - late yesterday, the State Central Committee - or at least the group of committeemen who called the special meeting - postponed the meeting, obstensively because Brady had not confirmed his attendence by either phone or being in person.  It sounds like a dodge to save face to me, since they knew from the get-go that Brady was not going to attend, at least in person, but the important thing is it looks like perhaps cooler heads will prevail.  Original story below

Second Update 3/9/13 12:00 pm - In the Chicago Tribune's article today, they also note that it was long known that Brady was not going to be at the meeting.  But the Tribune also asserts that the folks behind the movement to oust Pat Brady are having trouble rounding up the votes.  Stay tuned...]

As much as I wanted to stay away from posting on this, I found that with the increasing news coverage, it's not an issue that any Illinois Republican can simply wish away.  I'm talking, of course, about the issue of GOP Chairman Pat Brady, and the calls of several Committeemen from the Illinois GOP Central Committee to hold a special meeting to consider just what to do about Chairman Brady in light of his recent statements on single-sex marriage (SSM).

If you are somehow not aware, Pat Brady came out publicly in support of the proposed legislation in the Illinois General Assembly to legalize "gay marriage."  The problem with this, as a fair number of Republicans see it, is that the State GOP Platform embraces marriage as only between a man and a woman.  Having Pat Brady take a public stand in favor of legalizing SSM, given the opposing view as espoused in the state GOP party platform, is anathema to many Republicans.  However, many other Republicans don't feel nearly as strongly about strict adherence to the platform, considering there are plenty of pro-choice Republicans (including many elected officials) just to name one issue that many Republicans don't unwaveringly adopt the party platform on.

In any case, whatever you might think about any individual's right to disagree with various planks of the party platform, the issue for many is that the Chairman simply doesn't have the unfettered freedom to disregard the platform -- at least, not without checking in first with members of the State Central Committee, which perhaps is really the root of the current bru-haha.  To be fair, many on the State Central Committee, and indeed the party at large, are less than complimentary on Brady's tenure as chairman, citing the drubbing we took last election, as just one concern.  However, for many, the straw that broke the camel's back is Brady's stance on SSM, despite the fact that he stated he was expressing his 'personal' viewpoint, and not taking a position as party chairman.  That explanation just doesn't cut it for many folks, however, as some feel you can't divorce yourself from your party position as a matter of convenience.  I think that has a certain about of truth to it, as no one would care about Pat Brady's position from the media perspective, if in fact he were not chairman.

But having said all that, from my perspective, the immediate issue is how to salvage the already tarnished issue of the State Republican Party and escape from the trick box that the Central Committee has put itself in by calling for a special meeting to discuss the issue.  If a vote is taken to oust Pat Brady, no matter what the Central Committee says to justify its vote -- such as the procedural issue of Brady not clearing his actions with the other members of the committee first, or having gone off the reservation just too many times -- you know that the media spin on this is that the GOP is the party of old, rich, narrow-minded white men, who are homo-phobic and wish to deny equal rights to others. -- not to mention the irony of the typical Republican mindset that big government should stay out of people's lives and bedrooms, but some GOPers wish to regulate marriage from a state perspective.

I spoke at some length with Mark Shaw, our State Central Committeeman here in the 10th District, and he told me clearly that if the vote at the special meeting (scheduled for this Saturday March 9th) is to oust Chairman Brady strictly because of his personal support of SSM, Shaw will vote against ousting Brady.  However, Shaw is less certain of how he would vote if the question is broadened to include other alleged malfeasance of Brady, since Shaw says he does not yet have all the facts and history, being relatively new to the Central Committee.

Regardless, I think there are some on the Central Committee who would indeed vote to remove Brady on that basis.  I think that would be wrong, but I don't get a vote.  But, I can give them some friendly advice, which is that if a vote is taken at the special meeting to remove Brady, NO MATTER WHAT the justification is given, the media will condemn the party for being close-minded and stuck a few centuries behind the times.

What to do?  I told Shaw I thought the only way out of this trick box is to have a vote on Saturday, and have the vote be specifically to remove Brady because of his stance on SSM, and have the vote total not be sufficient to remove him.  Given where Shaw and I expect at least a few others would lie, I would be hopeful Brady would survive that vote.  The story the next day then would be that the GOP did not in fact fire Brady over the SSM issue.  However, Brady's future could be determined in a more reasoned, less heated environment, hopefully, at the next regularly scheduled meeting in April.  Who can say if the vote might not then be different, presuming it was focused on Brady's track record and actions overall, but at least the GOP would have credibility to say that his ouster was not simply the reactionary, homophobic vote that the media will say it is.

I have no idea how open-minded the State Central Committee is to a little friendly advice, but one can always hope, I suppose.