What Makes Elephants Forget Last Year’s Lesson?
By Rep. Lindsay M. Harrington — exclusive on Irreverent View
Have today’s Republicans become young again, and forgotten the life experiences that we learned, which allowed us to thrive until today? Some would say, “Yes, the Republicans have lost their way, forgotten their values, and are behaving like young calves re-born, but ignorant of the past.”
We all remember learning as children that elephants have tremendous memory, protective instincts for their herd/family group, and seasonable migration routes, among other things. Only the very young elephants, which haven’t experienced the season’s changes, or threats and dangers, are vulnerable. The older members of the herd always try to shield and protect the less experienced elephants, who as they mature, come to demonstrate the same incredible recall of their elders.
No, we Republicans do not have to go back to the Reagan days to talk about things we have learned. We can just look back over the past four years or so, and see some lessons that are maybe being over-looked today.
Always susceptible to the right message in the right package, Republicans have sometimes not looked beyond the shallow images to discover the true values of our elected leaders. We sometimes forget the values that represent the history and the present for Republicans.
Esquire magazine this month presents an interesting and concise summary of Republican beliefs today, which in a nutshell is –“Surprise!” — conservative values, and intelligent analysis. We are not the extremists that some folks would like to portray.
So why, in looking at the interest groups that would say the Republican Party of Florida needs to be changed, would we forget the lessons we have so recently been taught?
Did we blindly accept the judgment of a charismatic leader who said “Here is your new Chairman; I have chosen him for you?” Didn’t we welcome him with open arms unknowingly? But, trusting our leader, and paying homage to him we accepted this unknown person as our Chairman.
And, when we learned of the differences in our values, and those of our appointed leader, why did it take so long to plead for release from our elected leaders, to mitigate the damage being done? Have we forgotten already what happens when we yield our open democratic process of choosing a leader will bring?
Three years ago, a cleverly designed bill, for which no one would take responsibility, seamlessly passed the Florida Legislature, forever changing the proportional representation in the RPOF, and expanding to draconian levels the unitary authority of the Chairman. We accepted the wisdom of our leaders, and adjusted ourselves to the new order.
In 2009, another legislative reform bill to alter the Republican Party magically appeared, with no parentage; but we rose up, and with great struggle and frustration had it set aside, for that moment.
Now we reach the pinnacle of our struggle for Party reform through the leverage of a member-led Special Meeting. Literally at the eleventh hour, intervening forces step in to engineer a resignation of the Chairman — thankfully, we thought. But then the financial misdeeds began to unfold, one by one, and in a scant thirty days we go from the brink of salvation of a victorious election year, to the depths of crisis.
Who should magically appear to rescue the Party, but the Legislature, with one of its own. At the same time steps were taken (and decisions made) outside the purview of those legally recognized to make such decisions. The destiny of our Party has been determined by those without the responsibility or the authority to make these decisions. Our moment of decision will pass on February 20th. Will we take up the banner and charge into the election year?
But, are we remembering what is coming this January for our Party? A completely new election of leadership must be made. Have we forgotten that with foresight the present Legislature has a pre-filed bill to bring “corrective actions to the statutes”, but only if necessary?
The election next January will surely be driven by the prevailing parties this Saturday. If the Legislative leadership prevails, this may well be the last election of a grass-roots Chairman in our collective life-time. If the grass-roots prevail, we must surely fight again unwanted legislative reform measures to be forced upon us without voice or representation.
Have we not learned from our recent past the price of ceding our voting voice to the dictatorial choices of the few? Remember the lyrics to the rock song by The Who, “Meet the New Boss; Same As The Old Boss-We Won’t Be Fooled Again!”
Let us learn from this unfortunate episode in the history of our Party. Let us wisely cast our vote this coming weekend to protect the Party, to protect the Republican voters, and to place the power properly in the hands of the citizens of our great state who, like mature elephants, understand the ramifications of a wrong turn on the trek of political life. We will this weekend, with resolve, meet and overcome the obstacles that were placed before our Party in recent years.
Lindsay Harrington is State Committeeman from Charlotte County and is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives 1996-2004 and served as Speaker pro tem during the 2002-2004 session.