Apparently, control of Congress, the White House and, soon, the Supreme Court isn’t enough for some conservatives. While most political observers point to a rightward political drift over the past four decades that has metastasized into a populist movement of white grievance, the breakaway partisans at the North Carolina Constitutional Party view the modern Republican Party as hopelessly compromised and obsolete.
Constitution activists, who gained ballot access this year, like to compare the modern Republican Party to the 19th Century Whigs, which collapsed before the Civil War. If that were actually the case, then perhaps the Constitution schismatics could be seen as the leaders of a new party ready to assembly a new and vital political coalition, just as the original Republican Party did from the remnants of the Whigs and anti-slavery Democrats in the North in the 1850s. Aside from the wishful thinking baked into the analogy, the original Republican Party stood for national investment, with the creation of land-grant state universities and expansion of the railroads, along with civil rights and black enfranchisement. That platform holds a lot more in common with the modern Democratic Party than the Constitutional Party.
At best, the Constitutional Party and the Green Party — it’s counterpart on the left — are likely to play a spoiler effect by siphoning votes away from one of the two major parties instead of elevating their own candidates to elected office. But any hopes of that for the Constitutional Party appear to be dissipating with infighting that erupted earlier this week in the wake of news that the state’s congressional districts may be withdrawn.
Andy Stevens, an unsuccessful candidate for Stokes County Commission and gun-rights activist who is a familiar face at Greensboro City Council meetings, opened the skirmish with a question on the party’s Facebook page Tuesday morning: “If NC’s congressional districts are to be redrawn in a week or two, what will be the Constitutional Party procedure for getting back on the ballot as a CP candidate?” While expressing a desire to see Republican Virginia Foxx ousted in the 5th Congressional District, Stevens challenged Constitution Party leaders: “Well, have Plan A, B and C ready… and let people know.”
To which one Mike Becatti responded, “You are welcome to get involved in the party to make some of these things happen.”
Stevens replied, “I converted [party registration] the day the board of elections allowed me to do so. Current party rules, however, preclude me from having any active role because I would have had to have signed up before it was permitted. Go figure.”
It went downhill from there, with Stevens complaining, “If I’m not the type of individual you want involved in this party then you can kiss where the sun don’t shine. Keep it up and you’ll have one less registered voter before the day ends.”
Stevens’ denunciation of the Constitution Party about seven hours later on his personal Facebook page drew mixed responses, including what amounted to a shrug from David Rollins, president of the Triad-based Rollins Broadcast Group and a member of the Republican National Committee.
“Wow, you have 275 registered voters in the state!” Rollins wrote. “Landslide coming!”