Over the last month a very small handful of dedicated volunteers spent many afternoons building the Carson City Republican Party’s float for the Nevada Day parade. The week before the parade we worked almost every day, off and on throughout the day. The badly needed rain, coming during this week, was welcome of course but ill-timed. Final assembly had to be done in the morning of the parade.

On parade day, Gary “no bull” Schmidt brought a few hundred Trump signs that he had made at his expense. About an hour before start time, he, his wife, Dennis and I walked the length of the parade route to hand them out. We ran out of signs before we reached the end. People were eager to get a Trump sign. We also gave signs to a lot of kids. I went back to get more signs, but by the time I got to where we left off, the parade had started. I walked back on side streets to rejoin the float.

When it was our turn, I walked with the float (for the third of my round trips), and the few others who were walking with us handed out more signs, buttons and slips for ice cream and soda at the end of the parade. Most people were enthusiastically cheering our float. Kids danced in the street to Rick Radecki’s endless karaoki rendition of “we’re not going to take it anymore.” Poor guy was hoarse by the time we reached the end.

There were only a small number of cheap paper Hillary signs, or people making rude gestures and comments at us. What was evident was their irritation, hostility and anger. In previous years there was more of good natured ribbing back and forth. This time it looked deeply personal.

By the time I again reached the south end of the parade route, I was so tired. The float turned one way, into the designated parking lot, and I turned the other way, to come home. Overall I walked two times downhill from the start to the end of the parade route, walked once and biked once back uphill to the starting point, and biked back uphill one last time to get home. Had no energy even to think about joining the after-parade festivities. Just get home and crash for the rest of the day.

So what is to be learned from all this?

The Trump vs. Hillary contest, maybe more so than others before, is a race war; thank you, “president” 0bama. It may also be a sex war; thank you “feminist champion” Hillary. (I wonder in what body part feminists think their thinking organ is located.) From what I’ve seen, descendants of the pioneer stock, and a precious few Hispanics, are for Trump. Most men and many women are for Trump. Most Indians and Hispanics, along with a sprinkling of Anglo types such as the Elizabeth Warren look-alikes, are for Hillary. (Around here the fingers of one hand are too many to count the number of blacks.) If the election had been held here on parade day, Trump would have won, yuge.

In past years the CCRP float was like nectar to bees, as far as candidates from Carson and surrounding areas were concerned. This time we had exactly ONE candidate walking with us, for the state school board. That’s it. In past years where was a platoon of party members walking with us, from Carson and surrounding areas. This time there were only three members of our executive board, and less than a half dozen others. (Yes, there were others manning the festivities at the terminal end of the parade.)

All year long the apathy was thick enough to slice with a knife, but no more shameful display of it could have been imagined than what was in evidence here at the parade. Of Carson City’s 12K registered Republicans, a little over a hundred bother to announce as CCRCC members. Of those, a bit over 50 may show up at the monthly meetings. Of those, maybe a dozen bother to volunteer on various committees. Literally a handful of us get all the work done. Literally less than a dozen total bothered to walk with or ride on the float.

Yes, I am very pessimistic. There is a sickness out there that even a Trump victory won’t cure; in fact, could well make worse. Why? because for some “Republicans” the issues take a back seat to misplaced sensibilities about perceptions, manners, and other irrelevant distractions. If I can’t have my way, if I feel offended, well, I’ll just pick up my marbles and go home.

This is an internecine war and there are three factions in it.

There is the establishment of RINOs, elected officials and the donor class, who couldn’t care less about principles, the party platform, the will of the people, or the fine distinctions between leaders, servants of the people, free enterprise, crony capitalism, or fascism. They look at government and ask, what can government do for me, to advance my private interests? And so they push through a tax-funded bond measure to “rebuild” Carson Street for the benefit of a downtown merchants’ association, the $750M measure to bring the Oakland Raiders NFL football team to Las Vegas. In the name of civic responsibility, they have the gall to demand a hike in the gas tax to make up for their past neglect of our streets and roads.

There is the vastly apathetic public, half of whom don’t bother even to vote, let alone come out to help with the day to day chores of running the party, or joining the campaign team of a candidate or an issue on the ballot. They look at government and at best say, pox on all your houses, just don’t bother me with anything. Or they too ask, what can government do for me?

And there is the party leadership. Humbly and with pain in my heart I submit that our current leadership is out of touch with the vast majority of the Republicans in this town. Surely we can’t say we represent them if we can’t excite them enough show any interest in party affairs, or turn no more than half of them, if we’re lucky, out to vote. Surely we can’t say we represent them if volunteer participation is limited to the motivated few — from what I can see, far less in numbers than in previous years. Even for the job of decorating the float, we used to get well over a dozen, not just the handful we got this year. If we are to have any credibility when we say that we DO represent Republicans in Carson City, then we have to find a way to reach them — the productive class, the donor class, those who used to participate but dropped out; all of them — and get them to care about the issues, to help with running the apparatus, and most importantly, to help with determining our course. If we can’t, then we should resign and tell the membership elect other leaders — both here in this county as well as the State. The apathy within the party is totally at odds with the enthusiasm for Trump that was evident among the spectators along the parade route. Like the TEA Party before them, they don’t want leaders who tell them what’s good for them; they want leaders who listen to them. It’s time for the current leadership to find a way to ask them, what the hell do you want? Why ask them? Because apathy is a cowardly, dastardly betrayal of the sacrifice by past generations. Because no enemy will destroy us, but apathy will.