Monday, June 02, 2008

Fear And Loathing In Rochester, MN

Friday evening I made the pronouncement to my wife that the events of the day had made it one of the worst of my life. After this weekend I can say that I could go my entire life without hearing the following phrases again:

1. "Presumptive nominee"
2. "Point of order"
4a. "I move to suspend the rules of the convention."
4b. "Second"
4c. "All those in favor of suspending the rules of the convention?"
4d. "Those opposed?
4e. "Motion fails"
5a. "Conservative Coalition"
5b. "Conservative Conscience Coalition"

If you can't tell, I spent the better part of a beautiful Friday in Rochester, MN at the State GOP Convention. I was planning on staying through Saturday's session, but about 4:00 p.m., listening to Norm Coleman spew his special brand of snake oil ("I bring people together to get things done" *gag*) I had to walk out on my delegation. My heart was racing with anger and disappointment, not at the results of the day to that point, but at the atmosphere and the way in which "real" Republicans responded to newcomers (Ron Paul Republicans).

I went there somewhat optimistically, hoping that this would be a positive experience and I would learn a lot about the process. While I was successful in accomplishing the latter, I didn't like what I saw. I should have seen it coming when Dr. Paul was barred from speaking at the convention. He showed up anyway and gave a very moving speech in a park near the convention site just before the call to order. I can't speak for my fellow delegates, but I went in very motivated and ready to engage the establishment. We didn't want to be disruptive, but rather, as Dr. Paul put it, disturb them a little bit.

Well walking into the convention hall I was quickly overwhelmed with what we were up against. Party regulars/traditional Republican, whatever you want to call them, had learned from the gains we had made at the caucuses and district conventions. Now they had there own slate of delegates to vote for to the national convention and they had it posted on big red banners hanging on each side of the stage (Conservative Coalition)- the implication: vote for these real Republicans. It wasn't illegal, but I wonder if the Paul delegates had attempted the same trick, would it have been allowed?

Unfortunately it was downhill from there. Bickering on both sides for the next few hours. We tried to change the rules to allow nominations from the floor and lost. That meant that the only nominees for delegates to the RNC would come from the Nominating Committee and in a move that surprised no one, all 14 of the Conservative Coalition were on the ballot and only five Paul-sympathetic delegates appeared. It was a blow, but it wasn't unexpected.

Then it got petty. Mccain supporters complained that there was delegate campaign literature being distributed that did not have the proper wording at the bottom ("Paid for by" or "Message approved by"). Of course some of those flyers were for Ron Paul delegates. McCains supporters demanded that the Sergeant-At-Arms collect every piece of literature that did not conform and destroy them (at the last call there were 1700 delegates seated - good luck with that). Also they demanded that anyone distributing "illegal" flyers be removed from the convention. This was seriously a 45-60 min debate that had nothing to do with convention business. Then others fought back (maybe Paul supporters, maybe not) bringing attention to the fact that Mccain supporters were walking down the aisles holding up a green "Yes" or red "No" card during votes. This led to a physical confrontation behind me as someone "turned-in" a Mccain-hat wearing supporter carrying the damning evidence in his pocket.

By 4:00 I was stressed, I was tired, and I didn't want to be there anymore. So I walked out. I'm a bit ashamed because it gives the appearance that I'm protesting that we lost. But going in we knew it would a tough road and we probably wouldn't come out with more that one or two delegates. What bothered me was the atmosphere. I naively thought that the debate would be interesting, but in actuality it was a lot bickering over parliamentary rules. I also didn't like the fact that there was so much bad-mouthing of Ron Paul supporters. The GOP wants the appearance of a big tent, but the real culture is one of "tow the party line or else".

I left Friday disillusioned. I feel like there is nowhere to go. Either Democrat candidate will bankrupt the country. The Republican candidate will bankrupt the country. The Green Party will REALLY bankrupt the country. Nobody is addressing the real issues facing America - the devaluation of our dollar, massive debt obligations, and a foreign policy that only exacerbates the problem. Basically we're screwed no matter who gets elected. What to do, what to do.

Go for a run?


I am a runner. "We are what we repeatedly do" said...

yes, go for a run....and continue to educate those that will listen.

Marli said...

Well said.