As the last post briefly indicated, during the 2008 Prince William Republican Convention, the Credential Committee Report produced a bit of controversy. The Credentials Committee rejected two applicants for membership in the committee. The committee voted unanimously to reject one of these applicants. The second resulted in a vote of 3 – 2 against the applicant. The applicant was Greg Letiecq, the blogger who writes bvbl.net.
I was a member of the Credentials Committee, and I proposed rejecting Letiecq’s application. At the time, I said I understood that some might think Letiecq’s application should not be rejected. Nonetheless, I thought Letiecq had crossed that sometimes nebulous line that makes any association with his views inappropriate.
What was the line Letiecq crossed?
When someone disagrees with us on something important to us, we all have a tendency to get mad at the person who dares to tell us we are wrong. We are tempted to think badly of and even to hate people who disagree with us. Then instead of discussing the issue that led to the disagreement, we give vent to our rage. We ignore the message and shoot the messenger.
When President Clinton denounced “the politics of personal destruction,” many Republicans rolled their eyes, but much of the public understood and felt empathy. Why? There is a difference between debating issues and personally attacking your opponent.
When Letiecq attacked Faisal Gill, then a candidate for the 51st District seat in the House of Delegates, I believe he clearly intended to attack Faisal Gill personally. Was Letiecq trying to personally destroy Faisal Gill?
What Letiecq was about, we each have to decide for ourselves. Here is an old post I wrote that links to Letiecq’s website. Because the post is old, and the Potomac News has redone its site, the links to the Potomac News do not work, but otherwise the web links do work.
Nebulous lines, by definition, are hard to define, and I had real trouble explaining my position. In Republican circles, Letiecq has strong support. So when the issue came up at the convention, that part of the Credentials Committee Report was soundly rejected.
The issue of Letiecq’s application was separated and considered separately. I ineptly (I am no public speaker.) defended rejecting Letiecq’s application , and several citizens plus Letiecq himself spoke against the recommendation. Finally, Faisal Gill’s son (Faisal Gill not being present) graciously spoke against the recommendation. In a concession to me, he said understood why the proposal had been made, but (echoing an earlier speaker) he said Letiecq had the right to express his views.
After my proposal to reject Letiecq’s application had been rejected, no doubt some will suppose I should feel chastened. Well, I have thought the matter over, and I think I did the right thing. The majority is not always right. If Letiecq joined Democratic Party and continued to operate his website the same way, I expect the majority of Democrats would quickly disown him. In fact, the fact most Democrats would take an immediate dislike to Letiecq is probably the strongest argument for keeping him in the Republican Party.
What reasons did people give for keeping Letiecq in the Republican Party?
1. Using the reasons provided to reject Letiecq’s application, anyone’s application could be rejected.
Letiecq systematically wrote posts that personally attacked Faisal Gill. With exception of immigration, Letiecq spent relatively little time discussing Gill’s position on issues. Instead, when Letiecq wrote a post about Gill, the subject was a purported defect in Gill.
2. Rejecting Letiecq’s application would infringe on his right to free speech.
The PWC GOP has the right to reject applicants. This right comes from the same amendment as the right to freedom of speech. As citizens, we have the right to freely assembly with the people of our choice. If PWC GOP had exercised this right, Letiecq could still blog. The PWC GOP would just not allow him to vote at meetings of the PWC GOP or at Republican Party conventions.
In fact, the Republican Party did reject one application. If this free speech argument made any sense, then it would not make sense to reject any applicant.
3. Letiecq has rendered outstanding service to the Republican Party.
This is the claim Letiecq made for himself. Since there was formidable opposition to rejecting his application, it must be conceded that many do regard Letiecq as an asset. However, except for those who think bad publicity is good publicity, no one should describe the coverage the news media gives Letiecq and his blog as laudatory (here and here).
4. UPDATE. In his post on the Prince William County Convention, Letiecq added a fourth reason for keeping him in the Republican Party (here). We need to get over the result of the debacle in the 51st District.
We are only talking about the last election. The person whose application the committee rejected committed their transgression during the same election cycle.
For the time being, what is important is that the majority of the party decided against throwing Letiecq out. Unfortunately, Letiecq shows little evidence of remorse; he seems likely to be a repeat offender. So in time, I would not be surprised if someone else decides enough is enough. Then the issue of whether or not Letiecq engages in character assassination on Black Velvet Bruce Li will be revisited.
Politics is a ceaseless tug-of-war. On each issue opinions and alliances are constantly reforming. Sometimes we win; sometimes we lose. We have to take losses philosophically. We have to learn from them.
What did I learn? It is an old lesson we each learn again and again. Hate is not a crime.
Letiecq is not the issue. The issue is human behavior. The issue is separating political disagreements from personal hatred.
We allow hatred in politics. When it is directed at our opponents, sometimes we excuse it. While the majority of my fellow Republicans do not despise or hate their political opponents, some do. Such people are in both political parties. Just as there are Republicans who hate Democrats, they are also Democrats who hate Republicans. And sometimes intra party feuds arouse even greater passions. That is why politics is such a nasty, mudslinging mess.