Convention 101 (GOP Style)
And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
By Jay Stang
I want to start by thanking everyone who took the time to read my piece. This is no doubt a controversial subject; I saw that in the comments. It seems to me that some of you might be a little rusty on what happens at a national convention. Just to clarify, I was on the floor of the convention all day on August 28th. I was right there, experiencing and watching this with my own eyes. I also worked my way up through all the conventions that Texas has to offer. Some of this process will vary depending on which state you are from.
Voting – When you go to the polling station, after you vote for your candidate, a precinct convention is held. This convention consists of everyone that voted. This convention sends delegates, chosen by the voters present, to the next level of the process. A slate can be offered, or individuals can be considered by themselves. We go from this to step 2.
This is where the different states display their different methods of going from the precinct to state conventions, and even the national convention. Some states do conventions, others do state caucuses. Remember, in many states, the popular vote has no binding effect on delegates. That is why it is called a “Presidential Preference Poll”. The state party wants to gauge the sense of the party’s voters. I will briefly describe how Texas chooses its delegates.
The precinct delegates move to the senate district conventions. We use the state senate districts as our launching pad to the state conventions. At the district conventions, slates of delegates from the precincts are voted on by the assembled voters from that precinct, then given to the convention nominations committee. Here we see the first emergence of the committees. There are several committees:
Credentials: This decides who is seated as delegates, and that they are legitimate delegates that have been properly elected by the voters in their precincts.
Rules: This committee accepts proposed rules changes and organizes, combines similar proposals and submits the collective rules changes to the general body.
Nominations: This committee accepts the prospective delegates to move to the next level; in Texas that being the state convention.
Steering/Arrangements: Usually found at the State and National levels. These are the grunts and foot soldiers that do all the work of organization, logistics and co-ordination necessary to hold a state and national convention. The Tampa members’ credentials read “COA”, or “Committee on Arrangements”.
Organization: This committee picks the officers of the convention, such as the chair, his co-chairs, and the secretaries of the convention. This is really a non-controversial committee.
Platform: This committee accepts resolutions. They combine, organize and present the proposed platform to the general body. This is the only committee that can have its report picked apart on the floor, at least at the state level.
The precincts read off their slates of delegates that will move to state in public. The only work that is done off of any convention floor at any level is the committee work, which is presented for adoption by the general assembly. The only twist on the committee work is that the report has to be voted up or down in its entirety. It cannot be amended from the floor.
Again, each state does this somewhat differently. Texas holds a state convention. Delegates from every Senate District in Texas show up to vote for several party offices at the state and national level. The Senate District positions are the Executive Committee Man and Woman, as well as the Senate District Convention Chair, secretary, vote counter, ushers, etc.
After this is done, the Congressional Districts form. These nominate and elect the National Delegates and the National Nominations Committee person. This committee person joins the committee that selects National At-Large Delegates and organizes the national delegates that the Congressional Districts elect. We also elect National Committee persons and our state chair and vice chair.
After the state convention, the national delegates meet and select their state representatives for the Credentials, Rules and Nominations committees at the RNC. They also select the delegation chair, which is usually the governor, unless he is a Democrat or an idiot. Sometimes, both.
Step 4 – The Big Show
Ok, gents, this is the National Convention. I will spend the rest of the article talking about the structure and events surrounding the Republican National Convention (RNC). The delegates, alternates and Committee men that are chosen by the several states all converge on the host city for the convention. (My opinion: Tampa sucks. Really. Don’t go there. Orlando is great, though.) This is a two week process. The first week is all committee meetings. This is where I think some of you might have gone off track a bit with the comments that the teleprompter results were predetermined outside the main assembly of delegates.
This is where the Credentials, Rules and Nominations committees do their business. Again, all of these committees’ business has to be approved on the floor by the main assembly. That is the only predetermined part, the committee work. The results of the votes by the main assembly are NOT predetermined. There is no separate ballot that we all voted on prior to the voice vote. There were no paper ballots. The voice vote is it.
Credentials: There were challenges to the delegates from Maine, Oregon, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Oklahoma. These were the result of hotly contested conventions in which many dirty deeds were done, virtually ALL by persons working for or with the Romney campaign. In Maine, a Romney campaign employee was caught on video tape distributing fake slates, with a few Ron Paul supporters and the rest establishment Romney people. Almost all of the contested delegates were not seated. I don’t have the space to address the situation from each state, but you can easily find that on the series of tubes known as The Internet.
The end result was that a lot of legitimately elected delegates were thrown out based on their political affiliations. If you don’t see a problem with that, send me an email. I will explain basic American concepts to you in further detail. Before you Romney people say“they deserved it”, just remember that next time you might likely be tossed out on your ear for an equally frivolous reason. We are a nation of laws, not men. Our national conventions should reflect that.
I will explain in the section on the Rules Committee next. The voice vote was taken at the convention, and the result of that vote should not have been predetermined by the teleprompter, nor was it legitimately decided by the delegates in a separate session. This was the actual vote to accept
or reject the committee’s report. According to the teleprompter, the
ayes had it. Did they? No one will ever know.
Rules: Here is where the really dirty, dishonest behavior started. First, the proposed new rules were disseminated. Delegates would have received these in their welcome packet the following week when they arrived in Tampa. The new rules are very totalitarian and top down in their focus. Brian Dougherty points out that if the new rules had been in effect in 1976, we would have never had a President Ronald Reagan.
In effect, the first proposed rule change, to Rule 16, stated that the candidate can eject any delegate that they want to, for any reason, and replace that delegate with any one he wants. This could lead to Romney stacking the delegation with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or Santorum with the attendees of the American Bishop Congress. Of course, that is ridiculous, but allowable under the proposed new rules.
The “compromise” rule change to the previous proposed Rule 16 states that all delegates are bound. No uncommitted delegates are allowed. If one of the delegates (All bound, remember) even sign a nomination form to merely put someone else on the ballot, that delegate has just resigned and will be frog marched out the door. As an example, if a delegate circulates a nomination form to put Ronald Reagan on the ballot, he and anyone who signs the form will be stripped of their credentials immediately. You decide which is worse. But wait! It gets better.
Rule 12 allows the RNC to change the rules at any time between conventions, if they so desire. This means that next month, the RNC can meet and put the first proposed rule change to Rule 16 back in the rules. They can change whatever they want at any time. With these rules in place, why even bother having a convention, or delegates? This is the top down, totalitarian control that I alluded to at the beginning of this article.
The scuffles occurred in the Rules Committee hearing room. The first incident happened when the Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts GOP, Vincent DeVitto, assaulted Nebraska State Senator Margaret Sitte to prevent her from obtaining signatures for the minority report. Both people were RNC Delegates and members of the Rules Committee. Read about it here. He looks like a scum bag, doesn’t he? In the article, his disgusting assault was stopped by Dudley Brown from Colorado, head of the National Association for Gun Rights and an RNC delegate from Colorado. He was also on the Rules Committee. Apparently, Brown stopped by the assault by tossing DeVitto across four rows of chairs. Good job, Dudley Brown! I might have to read his emails now.
The next shenanigan happened on the 28th, the day of the real business. Morton Blackwell, a respected voice inside the GOP and the RNC and a Rules Committee member, boarded the bus with the rest of the Virginia delegation to enter the Convention Center. Instead of being taken straight to the Convention, he and the rest of the delegation were routed to the center, then back out of the perimeter and in to downtown, then all around Tampa for two hours. Coincidentally, they were let off the bus just after the Rules Committee meeting ended. He was the only shot at defeating these new rules.
John Boehner called for a voice vote on the report of the Rules Committee. This is where the video of the teleprompter picks up. Let me be very clear: there was no prior vote, ballot or determination of the general assembly as to the fate of the report of the Rules Committee. The voice vote taken IS the decision of the general assembly, and the result was predetermined by the RNC, as evidenced by the video that we posted in the original article. There was no way to tell from the voice vote whether the motion passed or failed, unless you happen to be Superman or Jesus. This is why we called for division, or a roll call vote, because there was no way John Boehner could definitively tell the outcome from listening.
At the national conventions, the delegation chair is supposed to call in to the chair to be recognized. The chair controls who gets to speak. Our delegation chair, Steve Munisteri, was not allowed to request a roll call vote, because no one answered the phone when he called. The Texas phone used to call the chair was just a pretty white box with buttons and cheery, whimsical Ethernet and power cords coming out of it. This is how you steamroll a convention.
Nominations: The rules that govern the placement of candidates into nomination are simple: obtain the plurality of the delegates from five states on a petition, then submit that petition to the convention secretary one hour before the general session starts. We worked very hard for three days to get this done. We submitted the petitions with a majority, not just a plurality, of the delegates from six states to get Ron Paul on the ballot. Our compliance with every esoteric minutiae of the rules was ignored. I suspect our forms are decorating the inside of a dumpster in Tampa right now. In the end, only Mitt Romney made it on to the ballot. The voice vote was not very clear on that issue either. Additionally, no one was allowed to vote on this. You could not abstain, or ignore the state party binding. Your vote was recorded automatically.
Therefore, federal law was violated, because our vote was recorded without our permission, violating our consciences by forcing us to vote for someone whom we did not want to vote for. In my case, I did not want to vote for Mitt Romney, because I am pro-life, and Romney is not, thus forcing me to vote for a man who made abortions a $50.00 co pay in Romneycare. I was not allowed to vote my conscience.
This has nothing really to do with Ron Paul, or any other candidate. This is about a political party that refuses to follow its own rules, pillories and actually assaults any member of the party who actually demands they do so. This article is also posted for the very simple reason that if the Romney campaign (Who was very much behind every decision made at the RNC) can not follow the Republican Party rules at the Convention, why would we have any faith that they will keep their Oath to the Constitution? If Romney runs the nation like he ran the convention, say your prayers.
In victory, one should be gracious to his political enemies, especially if his enemy represents a huge voting block; ten percent of the GOP voted for Ron Paul, and many more millions of independents follow him as well. If only for the purpose of not enraging off his constituencies (Romney is trying to win an election, isn’t he?), you should not order his private plane searched for three hours, and his wife have to fight off an attempted strip search. Weren’t they buddies during the campaign? Didn’t the Pauls stay in one of Romney’s houses? Didn’t Mrs. Romney and Paul share recipes? Is this Romney’s nobility, class, sense of fair play and adherence to the morals that distinguish an administration that keeps its Oath to the Constitution?
Caveat Emptor, alea iacta est!
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