When I read that RNC member Gary Emineth, the North Dakota GOP Chairman, organized a coalition to demand an unprecedented "special" RNC meeting before the RNC Chairman's election, I had my usual reaction: "Another meeting?...ugh...what a waste."
On campaign after campaign, I've bemoaned the fact that too much time, out of a typical 14-hour workday, goes to useless time-wasters. No, I'm not referring to staffers who surf the Web, look at their friend's pics on Facebook, or play practical jokes on the guy or gal in the next cube over. Those serve an important purpose compared to the biggest, most useless, waste of time on most campaigns: the never-ending, often unfocused meetings where little, if anything gets accomplished, except teeth grinding, nail chewing and overeating.
Thus, I've come to hate the word "meeting." "Let's get together on," or "rendezvous about" or "discuss over coffee," are preferable. Meeting sounds so official, institutional, excessive.
But then I read on, and opened my mind...and sipped some coffee.
This special RNC meeting, which RNC Chairman Mike Duncan has now called, has made an impact even before being held. It has traveled a road that most other meetings never dare travel. RNC members have successfully coalesced around an idea, a plan, and quickly put it into action. They have been pro-active. They have shown leadership. They have provided much hope for the future of the Party. They have already taken a step towards accomplishing their goal -- a more open forum for major party decisions.
Just as important, the RNC members have built on the ideas of others, even more low-down in the totem pole of official Party power: grassoots organizations outside the official Party heirarchy. Since Election Day, several organizations, old and new, have pushed and prodded open the RNC Chairman's race.
Americans for Tax Reform has held meetings and is planning a debate of their own. Rebuild the Party, an organization I'm particularly proud of, has secured the endorsement of 5 out of 6 candidates for RNC Chairman and built an organization of over 10,000 people who want a stake in the future of the RNC. ChooseYourChairman.com allows regular people to contact the RNC members in their state expressing support for one of the candidates for Chairman.
These and similar organizations share a common goal, the best interest of the Party as it seeks to revive itself. They might differ in their approach, but that's what debates are for; debating the specific tactics and approaches our next RNC Chairman should take should drive the agenda at the (cough, cough) meeting on January 7th at a currently undiclosed location.
Emineth was beaten up at first by the blogosphere for this apparently heinous quote in The Hill, 'At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the public thinks; it matters what 168 of us think.' Yet, when put in context (which he provided for us via blog post and in a follow-up Hill article) one understands that this quote resulted from the same frustration shared by many Republican activists. Emineth, a sitting RNC Chairman, has felt powerless to make a different within the RNC power structure. This powerless feeling has permeated Republican activists and organizations as they've felt obliged to cater to the will of a Republican White House, and at times, a Republican majority in Congress.
Emineth, and the coalition that called for the (cough, cough) meeting see the opportunity at hand: an open field, the lack of a mandate. In such a situation, the RNC members play an important role, electing the next Chairman. In the past, most of these same RNC members have merely had the chance to approve the RNC Chairman for cosmetic purposes.
If our elected RNC members don't even have real power in the Party, should we expect the grassroots to be empowered?
Emineth and the coalition behind his effort have taken a baby step that shows real promise for a more open, productive and innovative Republican Party. Even if they had to call a meeting to do it.