The Conservative Party is a small party. The major parties can, when they want to, pack us with plants and puppets and have their will, utterly disregarding the actual conservatives.
Political professionals from the big parties know how to con conservatives, who are, comparatively, a naive group. Conservatives don't lie, they think. But they forget liars can call themselves conservatives.
I was involved with the Conservative Party since 1988. I had attempted to become involved previously but the then-leadership, under Patrick Lucariello, didn't seem interested in my contribution. I was finally encouraged by an honest Busti Republican, Tom Harte, and an honest Busti Democrat, the late Ted Smith. I was part of a hostile takeover. For the next 22 years I saw sometimes bumbling but always sincere real conservatives devoting great measures of time and effort to select candidates who would be best for the people. We conducted hours of personal interviews, sent out and evaluated long questionnaires, talked to people who knew the candidates.
Rarely could we find candidates in our small party to contest the majors, rarer still could we defeat the Democrats and Republicans. Usually we cross endorsed major party candidates.
The voter registration is nearly equal - Democratic and Republican - in Chautauqua County now. The new Independence Party, with its confusing name, has been conspicuously effective in funneling independent voters into the tallies of major party candidates it endorses, notably Democrats. The Conservative Party is back on line three on the ballot.
Following the 2010 census, redistricting must be done and there will be downsizing of the legislature to go along with it. Actions taken this year will determine control of the Legislature for 10 years and probably forever. Some people in the big parties realized the bumbling, idealistic, naive Conservatives had a label they needed.
"Conservative," in the right hands, can pull as many votes as "Independence.'' Here was candy in the hands of political babies. And they wanted it.
The new Conservative leadership has its own version of family values. Its leaders have immediate family connections with at least one major party and the Independence Party. They will not be selecting candidates the way we did. With those cozy connections between the new Conservative leaders and the Republican and Independence Party leaderships, elections can be decided right there. And it will have nothing to do with conservatism.
People think the Republicans loved us. They did. They loved us barefoot, broke, pregnant, and home. But we weren't obedient enough when they needed us, so they thought it better to bump us off, conceal the crime, and keep collecting our checks. And they had the perfect man to crawl in bed with, a fellow who has lusted for us since the day we broke out in the sunshine. He has relatives, tenants, and business associates who can sign into the party and always vote their proxies for him if they understand their own advantage. He has already made up stationery proclaiming himself Permanent Chairman. (Real conservatives aren't big on the President for Life shtick.) He also gets to file law suits and make threats, lots of them his favorite sport.
This time around there are pricey lawyers and consultants available to keep things patched up between the odd bedfellows and tell them how to talk sweet to the public and the true believers and how to spin idiotic talking points with the utmost persistence and insincerity. It will work. But none of this crew actually cares a fig for the conservative agenda or philosophy. I don't think any of them could define conservatism. Some can't even spell it.
I changed my registration the day after the takeover because, for reasons of conscience and reputation, I do not want my name associated in any way with that of Patrick Lucariello.
"At the conclusion of the (hostile takeover) meeting, (Anna) Wilcox publicly thanked Jan Potter (former chairman) for her many years of service to the party,'' reported The Post-Journal. What a sweetheart! But that isn't the way Anna talked to Jan privately when I heard.
Nobody has to take my word for any of this. Attend the meetings and ask some questions. Refuse to make out your proxy or sign a qualifying petition for one of the gang. Try getting on the Executive Committee. Take notes. Bring a camera. Ask to be in on the endorsement procedure. And investigate the reputations of the leaders, former and present.
Norman Carlson lives in Busti.