BROOKVILLE — Some locals who are disappointed in the lack of political action have formed a group and are working to make a difference and bring about action from like-minded people under the name “Constitutional Republicans of Western Pennsylvania.”
The Constitutional Republicans were formed from some like-minded people discussing their opinions and the direction politics seem to be going. When they all saw a lack of action from those upset like them, they decided to form a group and be the change they wanted to see.
“There are too many republicans sitting in their living room complaining instead of doing something, and we want to do something,” said Randy Bartley, an officer of the group.
At the most recent meeting, the group officially nominated a board of directors as they have been growing faster than they expected since forming.
The officers of the group are: Gary Smith, chairman; Randy Bartley, vice chairman; Pam Askey, secretary; and Dave Afton, treasurer. The meetings are held the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Columbia Theatre.
“We are a product of the last election, disappointment, aggravation, and we realized people needed a boost. We are republicans, but our mission statement is going to include the word ‘conservative.’ Trying to kind of pull the party back to its conservative roots,” Smith said.
Smith said there has been a chipping away of the party, referring to “rinos,” or republican in name only, and that it has been misconstrued what a republican actually is.
“We have the freedom of voting, but yet we feel we don’t because all of a sudden here’s this name placed in front of us that none of us have ever heard of,” Smith said. “We want that process opened, where the endorsement starts here, rather than at the top.”
The group is open to not only republicans attending the meeting, but anyone who wants to come see what they are doing, and discuss the state of politics today. Bartley said they have found they have attracted some democrats and independents to their meeting as well.
The group is currently seeing an average of about 40 people per meeting, and people attending from all around the region and multiple counties.
“The important thing is we’re challenging these people to be active. The only thing they’re going to pay attention to is numbers and money,” Bartley said.
The group is already planning some of their own events to get people out and being more active in local politics, like forums. They are planning on a forum for Brookville Area School Board candidates later in May. For those outside of Brookville, there will be a dinner in Clarion that will feature guest speaker state Senator Doug Mastiano and Dr. Chris Unger of Washington, D.C., and George Washington University Hospital. There will also be a forum for Jefferson County candidates. Further details will be available closer to the events.
The officers are also getting their EIN number to allow people to make donations and help raise money for events and campaigns. The group is not trying to raise a lot of money, but will use any raised from events to plan other events.
“One thing about this movement, it is bottom up, not top down,” Smith said. “And it has surprised me how fast it has spread.”
He said getting younger people involved is the hardest because of how busy they are. The age group with the lowest voting average, according to Smith, is 18 to 24 year olds.
“There’s too much partisanship in the country right now,” Bartley said.
“I would say that we are, for lack of a better word, traditional Americans. Farmers, miners, lumbermen, merchants,” Smith said.
The core of the group is a belief that the federal government is, and has been, overreaching in its duties and governing, not allowing states to govern themselves. This is why they are focusing on being a ground up movement.
“You could say that for our group, the Constitution is our secular bible, and when you get away from that… you’ve got to put the whole pie together,” Smith said.
Smith ended by summing up the group with the single word, “passion.” He said the group is passionate and its members are trying to spread this to the rest of the public, and show they are trying to make a change. Bartley said the group is going to work within the system to make these changes.