The Story of the PCOs
Michele St. Pierre (c) 2011
Once upon a time there was a Representative Republic. Legislators were elected by the people to represent them in a Constitutionally limited government to ensure that the government never got out of control and violated the rights of the people.
Political parties immediately developed to support candidates who shared their particular viewpoints and principles to help elect them to public office.
Candidate Selection Without Representation
This system became corrupt as top-down mafioso-style Party bosses took over the parties and began to run them for their own interests, leaving the people without representation in the parties and thus, without candidates to elect to represent them in the government.
To counter the corruption, laws were put in place that Precinct Committee Officers would be elected from each small precinct to elect the leaders in the Political Parties so that the grassroots electorate would be represented in the parties in a bottom up fashion, so that candidates would be elected that actually represented the interests of the People and not special interests.
For over 100 years that system was in place to protect the people from corrupt party leadership.
And so, everyone lived happily ever after, right?
Well, no. Then comes REALITY.
Party Bosses Decide to Sue
Due to actions of the Party Bosses in pursuing a lawsuit regarding the Top Two Primary (the Republican Party in particular practically bankrupting itself in order to finance it) a Judge threw out the whole system saying the PCO laws were Unconstitutional and violated the parties’ right of free association. Although he said the problem could be fixed by merely having a box where people could pick party affiliation before voting for their PCO, he left that to the Legislature or the Parties to work out.
And so it came about that I was at a Hearing today on HB 1860, since the Republican leadership decided to implode the whole PCO system and allow the Democratically controlled legislature to decide how the parties will now be structured.
The Hearing had been scheduled last Thursday and we had a carload of PCOs and then some (no party leaders) show up to testify, but since many could not take a second day off of work, I was the only Republican PCO to show up to testify. One Independent/Third Party Progressive testified along with one Democratic PCO. We were all opposed to the bill.
As proposed, HB 1860 would have allowed for PCOs to be elected in Presidential Primary years because people show what party they are affiliated with. This would change PCO elections from every two years to every four years. Chairman Craig Pridemore said that in 2012 it looked like there would be no Presidential Primary, so he did not think that this bill was a good solution to the problem. (Duh!) He also said that it appeared that we won’t have a resolution on this until next year, which could mean that with no law at all, it will be up to the Parties to decide what to do, and my worry is that they will just want to appoint PCOs.
The TVW video is up and you can watch the entire hearing which only took about twenty minutes or so. My testimony is at 7.30 minutes in.
Primarily I was objecting to any system that would eliminate PCO elections and allow the Parties to appoint them and also to making PCO elections happen only once every four years rather than every two years.
SO WHERE WERE THE PCOs’ ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES? WHY WAS I THE ONLY ONE TESTIFYING REGARDING THIS IMPORTANT ISSUE?
It was an issue important enough that the Republican Party felt it had to pay Hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawyers to destroy the system already in place.
So now, with the whole PCO system at stake, due to their actions, the Party sends no one to be the voice for the PCOs? Where are the State Committeemen and Women? They were elected by the PCOs to represent THEM and yet this vital, crucial issue is being completely ignored by them? What about all the Legislative District Chairs — NOT THERE. Kirby Wilbur — MISSING IN ACTION! If you are a PCO, I just wanted you to know that NOT ONE PERSON THAT YOU ELECTED WAS THERE TO REPRESENT YOU! It’s not like the leaders don’t know about this. The issue is discussed at every State Executive Board Meeting. It was THEIR lawsuit that brought this about!
Why was I the only one from the Republican Party to show up? I think that more PCOs would have shown up, if their Party had TOLD THEM ABOUT THIS. But you haven’t been told. Why is that? Why are you kept uninformed? It is time that the PCOs hold their leaders accountable. If you do not, your position will be allocated to the dustbin of history, along with the Republican form of government which you swore to uphold.
As a comical aside, I did run into Luke Esser wandering the hallways outside the Hearing Room in Olympia. The SEIU lobbyist seemed strangely drawn to the scene of the destruction and mayhem he dealt the party and the PCOs, leaving their very existence to the whims of the Democratic Legislature. For if the Republican Party turns its back on the Grassroots, it will spell the end of that Party as the grassroots will decide to green another field.