The 2012 meeting of the Republican national command shows just how little has actually changed in the Grand Old Party since the tea-party movement helped Republicans capture the U.S. House majority two years ago and announced that they were a powerful force in American politics.
While tea-party activists have won county chairmanships and seats on state central committees, few (if any) activists have clinched slots on the Republican Party's 168-member governing committee. That's not to say that tea-partiers have disappeared or that they won't get their moment in the sun — but it may take years for them to climb the party ladder the same way as everyone else.
The story goes on to quote various "experienced" people on the overwhelming value of experience, and uses the rise and fall of libertarian-sympathizing Tea Partyer Jack Kimball as New Hampshire state GOP chair as a cautionary tale of eager activists rising above their station.
The next semi-organized ideological force trying to inject themselves into and take control of the GOP are Ron Paul people, who in my experience are well aware the process of shaping the party will be long, arduous, and uncertain. Their story is told in my soon-forthcoming book Ron Paul's Revolution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired. And this Politico story notes they are in some ways a bigger GOP-change story in 2012 than the more hyped Tea Party:
The tea party movement's influence has waned everywhere since its apex in 2010. Most visibly, the Republican Party is poised to nominate the most pragmatic of the men who ran for president this cycle even though many tea-party groups vocally opposed him during the primary. Indeed, Mitt Romney received a coronation of sorts at a unity lunch here Friday, soaking up standing ovations and basking in blessings from 2008 rival Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
In fact, libertarian supporters of Ron Paul made more successful inroads into the party organization in 2012. A.J. Spiker, the vice chairman of Ron Paul's Iowa campaign, became state party chairman in February. James Smack, a vocal 2008 Paul supporter Nevada, got elevated from vice chair to acting state chair in February after Amy Tarkanian resigned to help her husband run for Congress. Now he's challenging former Nevada Gov. Bob List for Nevada's committeeman slot at next month's state convention.
My April Reason cover story on the Ron Paul campaign.