Saturday, May 31, 2008

Washington State Republican Convention: The Postmortem

I now need a vacation. Half an hour in the hot tub and a couple of margaritas haven't made me whole yet, so I'm thinking jumping a plane where there are no politics for at least 48 hours will probably aid my psyche.

I come to you now several hours after the close of the Washington State Republican Convention, which I expect, will go down in history as one of the most contentious, interesting, and for some, disappointing conventions that Washington has seen. I'm not an old timer, but I've participated before, and while we all expected fireworks, it was disappointing to see how some of our delegates chose to exercise their privilege to serve.

I saw several cars decked out with "Ron Paul Revolution" bumper stickers and paint on their windows while on the way here and it was clear from all of the earpieces, hand over mouth conversations back and forth that much plotting had taken place in an attempt to not just be heard, but to take over the convention and make a mockery of it. They cried, screamed, called other delegates names, and I was personally called a traitor by someone I had not even looked at much less spoken to. GET all constitute a minority. A vocal minority, and we all heard you, can still hear you, and will continue to hear you for some time to come as I am certain you are not all going to just fade away, but will maintain a solid presence in our political landscape. But, you are still a MINORITY. What this means, is if you have fewer votes on an issue YOU LOSE! Get over it and move on....

We spent two days with delegates using "points of order" to actually make speeches on their issues and it wasted so much time. They were indulged in an effort to allow them to be heard and educate them as to the process. These people spent so much time reading Robert's Rules of Orders but their application of obscure rules to attempt to get their way during on a specific issue was embarassing. The first day when a delegate yelled at our State Chairman, Luke Esser, and demanded to know if he "was from Acorn..." (a group that was recently found in Federal Court to have had employees that filed fraudulent voter registrations in WA), I was on my feet yelling. I believe in decorum, but it was absolutely lost at that moment.

Some Ron Paul folks did try to keep things intact, one that I recall went to the microphone and using a "point of personal privilege" thanked our permanent chair, Kirby Wilbur, for being fair and keeping order. Not long after this, however, things got dicey. I had to leave the floor for a while and when I returned there appeared to be a mass exodus from the convention floor, consisting mostly of people carrying McCain signs. I re-entered the floor to retrieve some of my belongings as I had to leave again shortly to meet my family and it appeared that the resolution process had been grueling, the convention was to close in about an hour, and the nonsense level of the resolutions being offered was getting higher and higher. McCain delegates were leaving the floor in an attempt to defeat quorum so that the remaining delegates would be unable to conduct any further business. There were 67 resolutions submitted.....Soon strains of patriotic songs came echoing out into the all became a bit Fellini-esque. McCain delegates returned to the floor to participate only to find very disgruntled and in some cases downright angry Paul delegates. See, they liked using Parliamentary procedure to gum up the works to this point, but when the rules were used to discourage them they just became HOSTILE. These are the rules folks, and while frustrating to their purpose, it was all perfectly legal....

After a floor count was taken and quorum was declared, I had to leave again, but I received word later from a colleague that voting went on for another hour and finally a vote was taken to cease business and it passed. There are hundreds of confused, sad, angry, exhausted delegates on their way home soon to ponder this experience and my hope for them all is this:
Learn from this experience and if you feel unhappy or disappointed figure out a way that
can solve your disappointment the next time around while maintaining order, respect, and
provide some heightened unity for the body.
The simple fact that I take from this convention is something I have known can not get a room full of over 1,600 people to agree on anything. The fact that you can get a majority to agree on some things is a fantastic feat and is the best we can do in any situation of this kind. To cram something down the throat of your neighbor will never cause a thinking person to join your cause, only to think of you as an ignorant soul who must resort to yelling and finger pointing to make a point. As one of my dinner mates said the other night, "being obnoxious is not cute."

I applaud and treasure our right to speak freely on ideas, especially political speech, but to lower ourselves to name calling on the convention floor is simply unacceptable. I hope that we never have to see this kind of debate again, but it certainly is a weekend I will never forget!

And now? Well, I simply can not wait for the dems in Denver...I am certain that no matter what we did here in Spokane, we would have a hard time beating the democrats at their own game...

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