Skip to comments.3 Things I Have Learned as a New Iowa GOP Delegate
Posted on 06/18/2012 10:18:58 PM PDT by iowamark
I am a conservative Republican. I believe that I have voted ever since I have been old enough to do so, wanting to do my part and to exercise my right to vote. Much more recently I have become a caucus goer, further exercising my right and responsibility to influence who I vote for. This year is the first year that I have ever served as a delegate to the county central committee, as well as the county, district, and state GOP conventions. Though I came in naïve and optimistic, I am no longer either. The entire process has been an amazingly eye-opening experience from which I can say I have learned several things. Here are a few lessons I have gleaned from my experience so far.
Few Get Involved in the Real Process of Influence, and Even Fewer Run the Show
People across the country complain about Iowa having an inordinate amount of sway and influence as the first-in-the-nation caucus (which I am still heartily for), they would be shocked at how few of the caucus goers do anything beyond casting a vote at the caucus. A huge number of my fellow caucus goers vote for their candidate, and then flee into the night. Most, I would guess, would not even have an idea what goes on after they leave. Delegates to the county central committee are elected, and delegates to the county convention are elected (which most likely will become the delegates to the District and State if they so desire). Platform changes are introduced. Very, very few people actually go through the entire caucus process. Further, judging by the attendance at central committee meetings, most of those chosen as delegates either never bother to attend at all, or soon give up once they realize how utterly tedious the business of the party is.
What remains is the few that become the true determiners of the party at every level. These extreme few determine who become the delegates upstream to state and national conventions. This extremely small group chooses even fewer to oversee the credentials validation of future delegates, creation and maintenance of platform planks, and the rules by which business is conducted. This tiny number of people hold the influence of the entire state party in reality.
The O in GOP Does Not Stand for Organization (and Theres No E for Efficiency Either)
I understand that most of those involved are self-funded volunteers. However, I see no reason for the continual and amazing lack of organization and efficiency at any GOP meeting that I have attended to date. Time and again I have attended meeting where sound equipment was forgotten or late. Time and again I have been to meetings where the minutes of the previous meeting were not yet available to be read and approved. In some of the meetings the indecisiveness is breath-taking. The sometimes comical chaos of stop-go-wait-change that could be alleviated with just another thirty minutes of meaningful planning. We can and must do better at doing our business with excellence and with foresight.
Further, the amount of time wasted in meetings is phenomenal. Nominations for positions are taken, usually with an allowed speech by each one making a nomination. Then each of those nominated are allowed to make speeches. If ten are nominated, there can be twenty minutes spoken by those doing the nominating, and another forty minutes by those that have been nominated. This is for one of many elections to the several positions. This is all necessary, I guess. However, when they take the ballot votes and then wait for forty or more minutes to tally them before conducting the usually necessary second vote, that makes no sense.
There are ways to keep things moving without long breaks of inactivity. If you cannot conduct business, then use the time to further educate, train, influence those in attendance. Plan our down times to leverage time, rather than wasting it. Why not, for example, take all the nominations at once, and then let speeches take place as the various phases of votes are counted. As another example, instead of having those making the nominations spell out names of those being nominated, why not just require a written sheet to be handed to the secretary with the name written on it (or use one of the hundreds of political flyers lying all around for the same candidate)?
Attention has to be given to make the necessary processes as organized and efficient as possible. The present processes are just too cumbersome for the time allotted for each meeting. Such poor business practices lead more to abandon their posts early or to give up altogether.
Its About Power, Not the Platform
People voting at the grassroots level are conservative and assume that ideals are what the election process is all about. We vote to advance the candidates holding our ideals. Wrong.
At every level, from the precinct caucus to the county, district, and state conventions, the platform receives the least priority. The articles that define the GOP as a party are relegated to the last item on the agenda. This means that most attendees (at the caucus) and many delegates (at the conventions) depart before the platform is ever discussed. People vote on their candidate (at the caucus) or those people that they want in influential committee or delegate positions, and then they go home. A small number of hard core people stay for various reasons and wrestle with the platform.
This focus on the power rather than the platform is reflected in the decisions and actions of those elected by the party, who mildly or greatly ignore the stated platform for the party in which they had been selected. Whether the issue is abortion, agriculture, marriage or any of the 25 platforms, those elected often just ignore what is clearly stated. Once in power, they ignore the platform. The entire Iowa GOP process seems to be focused on being elected, not to further the established written ideals of the party. (This is shameful. We either area party driven by ideals or we are not a party at all. Those elected need to be required to hold to the established platform.)
I saw this in full force at the GOP State Convention this year. Those few that did get involved were elected to these few influential positions and effectively captured or hijacked the party (as I see it), even though they in no way have been in the majority. Their choices, instead of representing the ideals and desires of the broad group, resulted in people who will represent Iowa at the national convention who do not represent the GOP of Iowa, nor the platform decided by the GOP of Iowa.
The Bottom Line
In the end, we need more people willing to get involved and to stay involved at every level. We need to attend our caucuses, yes, but we need to stay and vote for delegates that we trust to follow through on our votes and our ideals (even better, volunteer to be one who does just that). It takes time, money, and endurance to attend meetings and conventions. It is a lot of work, even frustrating effort, but each person involved helps to create strong informed support from the voters, rather than just being unknowing victims of the process that now exists.
The O in GOP Does Not Stand for Organization (and Theres No E for Efficiency Either)There has been an E in GOP-e, but it definitely does not stand for efficiency . . .
Clearly there are still a lot of Dagney Taggarts in the world.
I moved on from the R party about 8 years ago. We need a new party that is actually conservative and sticks to the constitution.
When the phoenix rises from the ashes maybe we will get something like that.
Sounds like The Founding Fathers were prescient in creating a republic.
Bring your block. They will be the precinct. Get your tribe together. Hold get-togethers. Got tribe?
The Stuhr link nearly blew up my computer. LOL!
Thank you for your post.
Convention duty is hard work for the engaged, the hard core and the determined grassrooters, those who can afford to ferry themselves to state conventions for three days and back, and on to the national convention for three days and back.
It isn’t cheap, but it’s the last stop for the grassroots to have a voice.
The Republican Platform is a piece of work that begins at every precinct where the neighbors place their concerns into the form of a motion. The motions are voted on and taken on to the county convention, where more concerns are developed into motions and voted upon, to be taken to the state convention.
After the convention the candidates, the players and politicians shelve it, BECAUSE IT IS NON-BINDING.
The Committee formulation at your county convention and your state can be the game changers. They know Roberts Rules of Order frontwards and backwards, the delegates at county are your neighbors and do not. The Committee can be unsympathetic and can take advantage of that ignorance and even enjoy letting you squirm when you are at the microphone stumbling through your first convention address in a packed room.
Be brave, Be bold and Hold the Line. There are so many with you in that audience, and many others who won’t appreciate an unsympathetic committee attitude toward you.
The power is coveted, for obvious reasons, because these people are not bored with meetings. They thrive in these meetings and are stimulated by the subjects at hand in meetings on politics.
We need to care that much.
Great pep talk and advice. Thank you.
Any observations from our Texas delegates?
Yes, at the caucus level it seems arcane, but a system of rules are necessary and Roberts Rules or Order do just that, give order to a process open to railroading.
We are fortunate to have a great State Chairman. He is not a divider and is great at keeping order.
Was it efficient, probably not. And yes is is expensive to attend. You are a captive audience in a convention environment where everything is grossly costly. Even Ft. Worth. I was told that the Bass Brothers owned 80% of downtown Ft. Worth. (I like Ft. Worth, but really do not like cities)
The process is broken more due to the gaming in the National Republic Committee. The process is grossly steered from there. The NRC “rules” are not representative of all states. This time Texas was scammed by the combination of a terrible outgoing National Chairman and the consequences of Obozo and Holder fouling up our primary process with the lawsuit over redistricting. What a mess.
There is NO WAY that Mitt Romney would have been selected by the grassroots of the Texas GOP had this been a remotely representative process.
BUT the real problem is that the very people who should be candidates on the National Level will not run because of what the National Press does to them. And because of the frivolous lawsuits which the Dems have made a stock and trade. Until we fix those 2 things we are crippled as a Party and a Nation.
Is it any wonder why more people don't get involved? There seems a hopelessness to it without understanding the process.
This was not my first State GOP Convention, but each one is somewhat different.
Unfortunately the rules of the RNC are insane, so no matter what the states do, there is a gaming process going on.
Hence, we now have a candidate that otherwise would not be the nominee.
I have expressed my displeasure to the RNC, for whatever that is worth.
I am a strong believer in the need to mount a serious lawsuit against the national press. I put that in quotes because IMHO the press is a misnomer which springs from propaganda.
The idea that journalism is objective is a fatuous conceit, easily disproved. It suffices to point out that wire service journalism as a whole needs public acceptance of that notion. Wire services depend on the notion that the signal coming over the wire is accepted as trustworthy even though the editors of your local newspaper dont even know the people who sent the reports it uses in its newspaper editions. Membership in the Associated Press is expensive, and the newspapers have to have public credence for those reports in order to prosper.
Consequently the AP and the other wire services began promoting that notion assiduously in the late 19th Century, promoted it assiduously throughout the 20th Century, and continue to do so today. And yet, belief in ones own objectivity is the defining characteristic of its opposite, of subjectivity. That is, it is not objective to assume that you are objective. And if you promote the conceit that you are objective - if you even belong to an organization which claims that you are objective, you cannot simultaneously actually even try to be objective.
Any serious attempt at objectivity must begin with the assumption that objectivity is a difficult ideal, which can only be approached by scrutinizing ones own interests and motives. But being open about the reasons why you might not be objective is incompatible with making any claim that you actually are objective. Wire service journalisms claim to objectivity constitutes proof that the wire services and their contributors arent even trying to be objective.
Another way to reach the same result is to note that journalists claims of objectivity are logically indistinguishable from the ancient Greek Sophists claims of wisdom. When journalists claim objectivity, after all, they promote it as if it were a cardinal virtue, the lack of which excludes you and me from their (they shrink from the word, but it fits their meaning) priesthood. The Sophists became the source of the derogatory term sophistry because their assumption of their own wisdom led to slippery arguments of the It depends on what the meaning of is is sort.
The individual news outlet is not merely able to defend itself because it buys ink by the truckload, the individual news outlet is joined at the hip with all other news outlets via the mechanism of the Associated Press. Thus, it is able to count on the propaganda power of journalism at large to protect it from whatever targets it chooses to besmirch. From Tailgunner Joe McCarthy to George Zimmerman, journalism selects targets for their representativeness of the middle class, makes them public figures, suppresses their ability to defend their reputations, and, without proof, declares them guilty as charged.
Now as we have a Supreme Court which if not exactly reliable is at least middle of the road, it seems to me that it should be possible to sue the Associated Press into oblivion. One of the justices of SCOTUS, not to say most of them, have been targets of this process, and IMHO would certainly be sympathetic to a well-crafted case.George Zimmerman should sue MSNBC and (personified in the AP and its membership) journalism at large for the broadcasting of the tendentiously edited 911 tape which made Zimmermans Hes black factual description of Martin in answer to a direct question from police into, seemingly, a racist application of the term black as a cause for suspicion. He should sue them for damages covering all the grief the presumption of racism which has been attached to the case has cost Zimmerman, including his incarceration and including all his legal fees, and he should sue for triple damages under RICO because of the organized nature of the system used against him, and because of the implied if not explicit physical threats implied in NBPPs vigilante publicity.
But Zimmerman is not even the real target of this racket, he is a symbol of the American middle class. If he cant defend himself, you and I cant defend ourselves either. So it should actually be a class action suit by the middle class against the journalism establishment, and it should be for the very existence of the AP. SCOTUS already has found, in 1945, that the AP was a monopoly in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Back then, the mission of the AP of economically transmitting nationwide news by conserving bandwidth seemed to make it too big to fail. Now - in the era of the laser, the fiber-optic communication system, the comm satellite, and the Internet - that mission is obsolete. The AP must go.
It is difficult to hold elected officials to the platform, but party funding and exposure can be used to encouraging candidates to read and respond to the platform. Rule 43 of the Texas GOP Rules is an attempt to do this.
Rule 38 addresses the presidential delegate allocation based on the primary vote, but can be changed at the convention for subsequent years if that is the will of the body. Switching to some type of hybrid primary/caucus has been considered in the past, but has never gained much support. Somehow, Romney got 70% of the Texas Primary vote, so the vast majority of delegates are bound to vote for him on the first ballot at the national convention. The RNC does have influence on this process in awarding at large delegates and possibly penalizing States for moving their primaries earlier. Personally, I don't want to have a situation where every state tries to move its primary to Jan./Feb. or else it will limit the opportunity of candidates that lack substantial name recognition, wealth, or party backing to build support or for party factions to settle on a consensus candidate before most of the delegates have been allocated.
Basically, it all comes down to what an organized delegation is willing to works towards.
In my opinion, the RNC and GOP incumbents have gamed the system in several states to protect incumbents at the expense of the wishes of the grassroots of the party.
We also got shafted because of redistricting. Complements of Obozo and Holder.
As far as the 70% Romney vote in the primary. The other candidates “suspended” their campaigns. Did you ever ask why? Out of funds or bought off?
Either way grassroots looses under that system.
Palin never ran. Cain withdrew because of personal issues. Perry OD'd on back pain medication or just flubbed the debates. Gingrich had excess baggage and was not really likeable. Santorum had some big govt/party line votes in his past plus a 20 point Senate loss in his background. Bachmann never got much leverage and came across as somewhat of a nag. Ron Paul was...well...Ron Paul. Other candidates just couldn't get enough notice.
You can probably point to some State Party obstacles, but I think the opportunity was there. It just never happened.
The question was not from a police department employee, but from the 9-11 operator. Those operators are more nearly EMS type dispatchers.
But I agree with most of what you said. Simplified, it is the AP = Always Propaganda. The MSM lies. Pretty simple.
My take, simply:
Romney is a poor choice of candidate. We should have been able to do better.
In my opinion,the RNC has been terribly run...