Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Republican Party: show some initiative

Jerry Stratton, February 19, 2011

A couple of days ago, I received an email from “Reince Priebus, RNC Chairman”.

As one of my first official acts as the new Chairman of the Republican National Committee, I wanted to write to you personally and ask for your opinion.

Well, yes, it was a fund-raising letter. The point of these is to ask questions that rile you up against the Democrats—which is of course not hard to do nowadays—and then after the inciteful questionnaire ask me for money.

I normally ignore these things; I don’t expect they’re really read. However, after yesterday’s Republican meltdown where they couldn’t even approve Jim Jordan’s (R-OH-4th) simple across-the-board cut, I thought I’d go take a look at it to see how silly it looks, and pretend to give them a piece of my mind.

Part I, Question 1: What did the national Republican Party do well in your area in the 2010 Elections?
The answers were all sorts of nice things like “put forth good conservative candidates”, “promote clear, defining issues”, and “advertise for GOP candidates”. I live in San Diego, however, so I had to choose “Other: Fight amongst themselves”1.
Part I, Question 9: What can the Republican National Committee do better to communicate with you and other conservative grassroots leaders in your Congressional District?

I don’t want communication. The best communication is to take a stand. “Make sure that the party stands for what it says it stands for. Why did this fail?”

Amendment No. 104: At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:

  1. Each amount made available by the following provisions of division B of this Act (other than an amount required to be made available by a provision of law) is hereby reduced by the following percentage:

    1. Section 1101(a)(5) and title IX, 11 percent.
    2. All other provisions of such division (except as provided by subsection (b)), 5.5 percent.
  2. Subsection (a) shall not apply to amounts made available—

    1. by section 1101(a)(3) and title VI;
    2. by section 1101(a)(6) (with respect to division E of Public Law 111–117) and title X; and
    3. for Israel, by section 1101(a)(6) (with respect to division F of Public Law 111–117) and title XI.
Part II, Question 1: In order to cut the $14 trillion federal deficit, Republicans should (check all that apply)
The first answer on this was “Slash President Obama’s wasteful government spending”. Folks, that a start, and a good one. But you need to slash your own damn wasteful government spending, too. “Stop spending money we don’t have.”
Part II, Question 6: What are your thoughts on how and where Republicans should cut federal government spending?

Stop dealing in piddling small change. Stop hiding behind accounting tricks. What we spend must be less than actual revenue.

Simplify the tax code. Remove all hidden taxes (such as that social security taxes are double what they look like on our paychecks).

When I went to submit it, what did I get?

InitiativeKey required: Submitting a form for a Republican National Committee questionnaire.; Republicans; forms

Some initiative would be nice, yes.

I’m assuming that the “InitiativeKey” is that thing in the URL after “&initiativekey=”, but hey, maybe they lost it along with that hundred billion they were going to cut. You can see part of it in the title of the error page. You can see this because they put the entire form into the URL. For the non-technical among you, there are basically two ways to submit forms: a method that puts all of the submitted information in the URL (good for searches, bad for personal information and updating databases) and a method that doesn’t put the submitted information in the URL (bad for searches, good for personal information and updating databases).

It may just be that the RNC is still stuck in the nineties: they also included a “clear” button to empty the form2, right next to the submit button. Clearing (or resetting) forms isn’t something people generally do—they just use the back button or close the window. Putting the clear/reset button right next to the “submit” button is very bad design, because it makes it easy for people to accidentally hit the wrong button when they go to submit.

In this case it doesn’t matter, however, because it’s a Republican form. Remember the Tea Party slogan “Reset Congress”? Well, if you want to clear it all out and start over, the Republican button doesn’t actually do anything.

As we are now discovering. It would be very nice if the Republicans could add some “initiative” to their party.

  1. Which may be overly snarky on my part—I don’t know how much the national party was involved in our local squabbles.

  2. I’m not absolutely certain what they’re trying to do here. The traditional reset button is type="reset". Judging from a quick google, Internet Explorer has a non-standard type="clear" that, rather than resetting a form to the default, actually clears it out. Whether IE has this or not, it definitely doesn’t exist on standards-based browsers like Firefox or Safari. It looks like they tried to emulate this function by creating an empty type="button" with the name clear. But that doesn’t actually do anything unless you attach an action to the button. Which they didn’t do.

    In other words, because they couldn’t make a button that actually cleared the form, they just made one that looks like it should clear the form, and hoped that nobody really wanted to do that. Instead of using the standard and well-known reset button.

  1. <- Currency of Krugmanland
  2. Trickle down lying ->