Renewing License Plate Tags Can Get You Thinking
We just had a potential problem with our vehicle registration that strung out over a few days. After my wife’s first frustrating encounter her parents were upset because she didn’t “drop my name” at the license branch.
At first we were both a bit confused as to what they could have meant. I do go to the New Haven License Branch often, but not enough to have made any kind of impression. Then I realized that my in-laws, hailing from Avilla, are more familiar with the days when Jim Koons dominated northeast Indiana and Noble County Democrat politics.
Koons was chairman of the Noble County Democrat Party for 57 years. For much of his term in office, the political parties controlled the license branches in Indiana, one among many perks a party chairman had at his or her disposal to encourage party loyalty (or punish traitors). My in-laws probably figured the folks at the license branch were Republican Party appointees that I’ve worked with in the past.
In my last piece I discussed the importance of finding common ground between various philosophical factions of the party if we’re going to avoid an eventual fracture. One way to start finding that common ground that might allow us to move forward together rather than carping at each others heels is to provide more opportunity for us to influence the direction of the party.
I’m not a big fan of patronage and I’m NOT suggesting we return to such a system. We do need to find more productive ways that everyone can feel like they’re part of the discussion and channel their activism to building up the party rather than complaining about being excluded.
One target for such activism should be the state convention. It’s hard to argue that our last state convention lacked the dynamism and excitement of the 2008 convention. The biggest difference between the two was a contested nomination battle (Zoeller vs. Costas for Attorney General). While I know not everyone is a big fan of contested primaries, nomination battles, etc., it’s hard to deny that these events generate significant excitement and provide delegates a reason to go to the convention.
I think there are many changes we could make to plan a more interesting convention every other year, but one quick way to do that would be to change the rules for how we select our national committeeman and committeewoman. Under current party rules our state committee selects these officers, but states across the country have varied rules.
My suggestion would be to amend the state rules so that we elect the national committeeman and committeewoman at the state convention. Iowa is one of many states that use this approach. This change would have the added benefit of requiring these officers to interact more with rank and file members and actually hold themselves accountable to representing Hoosiers on these committees, rather than using the position as a platform for their own ambitions.
Enhancing the role of the convention delegates will also highlight the folks running for convention delegate in our local communities. If we can get primary voters energized about what is going on at the bottom of the ticket, we can get them more excited about positions throughout the ticket. Any time we can get voters energized and excited about what is going on in our nominating contests we will produce better nominees and should result in better elected officials – and with that kind of change we all win!
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