Trump and the GOP Party Activists: Report from North Carolina

I went to Congressman Mark Meadow's annual Faith and Freedom rally last night.  The past two years the crowd filled the entire event hall at the Western North Carolina Ag center. This year two thirds of the hall was curtained off.  Now some of this was because this year's listed speaker, Freedom Caucus chair Congressman  Jim Jordan of Ohio, is not as big of a draw as the last two speakers, Trey Gowdy in 2014 and Ben Carson last June.  But some of it was also because the regular party activists are turned off by the direction of this election cycle.  Even among those present there was a sense of resignation that a train wreck is looming on the horizon and we are powerless to stop it. 

Those present were the worker bees of the party, not the big donors.  It a $40 a person event, plus for some in the more remote counties in the district the cost of a tank of gas to get there.  These are the people who volunteer to run the county campaign offices, work the phone banks, who get their children and grandchildren to man the sign crews that spread the names of the candidates for local offices and who serve as election judges.    

Donald Trump was only mentioned once and that was by the state party official in from Raleigh who was the master of ceremonies.  The applause for her comments on him was polite rather than overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Party activists are worried about the anemic fundraising.  In this socially conservative district Trump's silence on the Supreme Court's overreach in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt was also on people's minds. 

Unfortunately, due to the fallout from the Benghazi report, the listed speaker had to remain in Washington DC.  In his place, a freshman member of the Freedom Caucus spoke, Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia.   A radio host and Southern Baptist minister, Hice knows how to deliver a speech. His stem-winder was that a nation that loses its moral values soon loses its freedom because personal responsibility and self control are necessary conditions for all constitutional limited governments.  The day after his election in 2014, Salon dubbed Hice the worst new congressman. The voters in Georgia's tenth congressional district don't seem to agree: No Democrat even filed to run against Hice this November.

Congressman Meadows’s remarks were both more casual and more personal.  He kidded Congressman Hice that when Congress played musical offices at the beginning of this term, Hice was assigned the same tiny space Meadows had been given during his first term. He also wryly noted that because offices are not reassigned after a special election to fill a vacant seat, the newest member of the Freedom Caucus, Warren Davidson of Ohio, now temporarily occupies the largest space around -- that of former Congressman John Boehner, whom Davidson replaced.  Colleagues are telling Congressman Davidson not to become too used to all that room. 

Both Congressman Hice and Congressman Meadows are trim looking men in their mid 50s.  They each noted last night that many of those Democrats who participated in last weeks sit-in in the House seemed to have had a far easier time getting down to the House floor than they had getting back up off the floor again. Considering that House Democrats leaders are more than a decade older than House Republican leaders, I can see how that might well be the case. Indeed there were a far number of septuagenarians leading that sit in.

Congressman Meadows added that with those difficulties in mind, House Republicans went ahead with the scheduled agenda for that evening, which included several votes on other issues. Each vote forced the protestors to pry themselves off the floor in order go and push the button on their desks or else be on record as not voting.  Both men said it was hilarious to watch. 

Congressman Meadows went on to urge us all to go on line and read Congressman Jordan and Pompeo's additional views on Benghazi. I have only glanced at the main report and this additional view, but my quick take is that the full report reflects the criminal prosecutor's outlook of the chairman who knows that white collar cases are notoriously hard to win.  Thus there is a reluctance to make allegations that cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, even when the reason for that is because the administration has stonewalled the investigation. The additional views address the same issues from the point of view most citizens are likely to take- that of a preponderance of the evidence. 

Mostly Congressman Meadows talked about the frustrations of being in Congress and seeing how many of those who are sent to Washington change once the get there.  He feels that means it is time to retire and go back home. He also talked about how the Freedom Caucus is starting to have an impact.  The Senate now knows nothing if likely to get passed in the House unless the Freedom Caucus signs off on it.   He noted his own reputation from his battle with Speaker Boehner has become part of the negotiations with both Senate and House Leadership.  "Do we need to call Mark into the room?" is his allies' way of saying some condition is not subject to compromise.

Congressman Meadows also noted that Republicans will lose House seats this Fall.  He warned against despair and encouraged us all to stay active in politics, no matter how temporarily discouraged we may be right now.  A man of deep faith, Meadows noted that with God's will there is always a sunrise tomorrow and a way to battle on for what we know is right.

PS:  As I was driving to the AG Center I spotted a station wagon with a large homemade sign in the back that they could not vote for either Donald Clinton or Hillary Trump.

I went to Congressman Mark Meadow's annual Faith and Freedom rally last night.  The past two years the crowd filled the entire event hall at the Western North Carolina Ag center. This year two thirds of the hall was curtained off.  Now some of this was because this year's listed speaker, Freedom Caucus chair Congressman  Jim Jordan of Ohio, is not as big of a draw as the last two speakers, Trey Gowdy in 2014 and Ben Carson last June.  But some of it was also because the regular party activists are turned off by the direction of this election cycle.  Even among those present there was a sense of resignation that a train wreck is looming on the horizon and we are powerless to stop it. 

Those present were the worker bees of the party, not the big donors.  It a $40 a person event, plus for some in the more remote counties in the district the cost of a tank of gas to get there.  These are the people who volunteer to run the county campaign offices, work the phone banks, who get their children and grandchildren to man the sign crews that spread the names of the candidates for local offices and who serve as election judges.    

Donald Trump was only mentioned once and that was by the state party official in from Raleigh who was the master of ceremonies.  The applause for her comments on him was polite rather than overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Party activists are worried about the anemic fundraising.  In this socially conservative district Trump's silence on the Supreme Court's overreach in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt was also on people's minds. 

Unfortunately, due to the fallout from the Benghazi report, the listed speaker had to remain in Washington DC.  In his place, a freshman member of the Freedom Caucus spoke, Congressman Jody Hice of Georgia.   A radio host and Southern Baptist minister, Hice knows how to deliver a speech. His stem-winder was that a nation that loses its moral values soon loses its freedom because personal responsibility and self control are necessary conditions for all constitutional limited governments.  The day after his election in 2014, Salon dubbed Hice the worst new congressman. The voters in Georgia's tenth congressional district don't seem to agree: No Democrat even filed to run against Hice this November.

Congressman Meadows’s remarks were both more casual and more personal.  He kidded Congressman Hice that when Congress played musical offices at the beginning of this term, Hice was assigned the same tiny space Meadows had been given during his first term. He also wryly noted that because offices are not reassigned after a special election to fill a vacant seat, the newest member of the Freedom Caucus, Warren Davidson of Ohio, now temporarily occupies the largest space around -- that of former Congressman John Boehner, whom Davidson replaced.  Colleagues are telling Congressman Davidson not to become too used to all that room. 

Both Congressman Hice and Congressman Meadows are trim looking men in their mid 50s.  They each noted last night that many of those Democrats who participated in last weeks sit-in in the House seemed to have had a far easier time getting down to the House floor than they had getting back up off the floor again. Considering that House Democrats leaders are more than a decade older than House Republican leaders, I can see how that might well be the case. Indeed there were a far number of septuagenarians leading that sit in.

Congressman Meadows added that with those difficulties in mind, House Republicans went ahead with the scheduled agenda for that evening, which included several votes on other issues. Each vote forced the protestors to pry themselves off the floor in order go and push the button on their desks or else be on record as not voting.  Both men said it was hilarious to watch. 

Congressman Meadows went on to urge us all to go on line and read Congressman Jordan and Pompeo's additional views on Benghazi. I have only glanced at the main report and this additional view, but my quick take is that the full report reflects the criminal prosecutor's outlook of the chairman who knows that white collar cases are notoriously hard to win.  Thus there is a reluctance to make allegations that cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, even when the reason for that is because the administration has stonewalled the investigation. The additional views address the same issues from the point of view most citizens are likely to take- that of a preponderance of the evidence. 

Mostly Congressman Meadows talked about the frustrations of being in Congress and seeing how many of those who are sent to Washington change once the get there.  He feels that means it is time to retire and go back home. He also talked about how the Freedom Caucus is starting to have an impact.  The Senate now knows nothing if likely to get passed in the House unless the Freedom Caucus signs off on it.   He noted his own reputation from his battle with Speaker Boehner has become part of the negotiations with both Senate and House Leadership.  "Do we need to call Mark into the room?" is his allies' way of saying some condition is not subject to compromise.

Congressman Meadows also noted that Republicans will lose House seats this Fall.  He warned against despair and encouraged us all to stay active in politics, no matter how temporarily discouraged we may be right now.  A man of deep faith, Meadows noted that with God's will there is always a sunrise tomorrow and a way to battle on for what we know is right.

PS:  As I was driving to the AG Center I spotted a station wagon with a large homemade sign in the back that they could not vote for either Donald Clinton or Hillary Trump.