Establishment Republicans in Michigan Capitalizing On Anti-Gay Controversy to Regain Control Of GOP
Demands for the resignation of Michigan’s Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema may be far less spontaneous than initially portrayed. Last week, Agema waded into the gay marriage debate with a controversial Facebook post opposing legalization.
Almost immediately thereafter, aspiring political consultant Dennis Lennox has been loudly leading the assault on Dave Agema. In repeated written outbursts, Lennox proclaimed there is “no room for Agema in the GOP,” accused Agema of being a “neo-Know Nothing adherent,” and called Agema an “ignorant bigot.”
Oddly enough, in his role as “columnist,” Lennox failed to mention an important personal vested interest in his demands for an Agema resignation. Lennox failed to mention in his boisterous article that he served as one of Saul Anuzis’ most vocal supporters in Anuzis’ campaign for reelection as Republican National Committeeman. In the end, Dave Agema trounced Anuzis 69% to 31%, as many grassroots conservatives opposed Anuzis as insufficiently conservative.
Presently, Lennox touts himself as political consultant and recently hosted an event at CPAC with FourTier Strategies. However, he achieved more widespread notoriety during the presidential primary as a Mitt Romney yard sign installer. A video shot just prior to the Michigan primary shows Dennis Lennox being asked why Santorum signs were being uprooted across the street from a Romney campaign rally. Lennox refused to offer even a polite short response to the valid inquiry.
Of course, Lennox is no stranger to confrontation with grassroots conservatives. For instance, the Michigan Tea Party News reports that Dennis Lennox once attempted to exclude a Tea Party reporter from a Republican senatorial debate, claiming to possess the authority to “kick out anyone I want to.” Lennox merely emulated the example of Saul Anuzis who attempted to exclude Ron Paul from the 2008 presidential debates.
This drama in Michigan is more an example of cronyism and inside politics rather than genuine concern about promoting tolerance within the Republican Party. One need only recall that Saul Anuzis once bemoaned the coalition of conservative activists which nearly defeated the election of Bobby Schostak as Michigan’s GOP Chairman. Anuzis complained that “… An interesting coalition of some Tea Party activists, Liberty Movement folks and others with alternative agenda’s rallied together to make this a closer race than it should have been.”
In addition, Lennox, who himself has already failed at an attempt to run for Michigan state representative due to an inability to garner support, enthusiastically embraces establishment party politics within Michigan. In fact, Lennox is an outspoken fan of former Governor Bill Milliken, a full-fledged liberal Republican. Governor Milliken represents the type of Republican liberty-minded activists seek to defeat.
Throughout the primary campaign, the political class attempted to confuse, frustrate, and silence “interesting coalition” of conservative activists. Romney surrogates within the Michigan GOP demanded an open primary in an attempt to minimize the chance of success of a conservative alternative to Romney. In Washington state, the mainstream Republicans of Washington attempted to deceive Santorum supporters into voting for a slate of delegates guaranteed to hand Romney a victory. At a county convention, the local establishment leaders used police officers to impede the ability of the Santorum campaign to guide its delegates through the convention process.
Likewise, the saga currently unfolding in Michigan should cause consternation for all conservative activists. Is the "RINO" wing of the Republican Party using Alinsky tactics to regain absolute control of the Republican Party infrastructure? Has Saul Anuzis played any role in encouraging this salvo by Dennis Lennox to better position himself for a run for Sen. Carl Levin’s soon-to-be vacant seat in the Senate? Will Lennox begin to disclose his political relationship with Saul Anuzis in future commentary on this issue?
The anti-gay sentiment expressed by Dave Agema troubles many of us. But simply throwing verbal temper tantrums and hurling names in response does little to change hearts and minds — although it may serve Dennis Lennox's own political ends. However, if we desire society — and the Republican Party — to become genuinely more inclusive and welcoming, juvenile theatrics are not the answer. A clear explanation of WHY we believe differently is more likely to change hearts and minds.
Political opportunism masquerading operating under the guise of tolerance is on full display within the Michigan GOP. Conservative activists deserve better than to be subjected to such manipulation. Activists can promote tolerance and inclusion without handing control of the party over to those who remain insufficiently committed to the ideas of limited government, economic freedom, and separation of powers.