Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wading Through the Political Process

As is fairly typical with the things I do, when I do something, I tend to do it with gusto.  And today's post has spades.

Last month, Minnesota had its Republican caucus.  This was so completely foreign to me but I have become more and more concerned with the misdirection in which this country is headed, I could no longer remain a spectator.  Edmund Burke says it best: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  So, I volunteered to be a delegate for the Scott County GOP Convention.  It was held Saturday.  Grab some popcorn, I'm about to offer my observations of the political process.

When I arrived, I'm fairly certain I had that whole "deer in the headlights" look about me.  I knew pretty much NO ONE there and I wasn't sure where I was supposed to be.  So, I took my clue from the lemming and just pushed myself into the crowd and moved into the auditorium.  There, I looked for my precinct; there were signs on certain seats for your precinct.  Which I found, after climbing over numerous people (you're welcome) and recognized a few people from our caucus.

As the convention got started, well, I quickly got the feeling that this was going to be a whole lot of "hurry up and wait".  The agenda had us adopting the rules (Roberts Rules) and of course, having done this (I assume) several years in the past, the rules weren't STILL quite right.  So the process of amending the rules, debate on amending the rules, equal number of for and against debaters, followed by a reading of what COULD be an amended amended rule, then a vote confirmed my suspicion that I was in for a LONG day.

The first issue that surface, after a portion of the rules were adopted dealt with the new congressional lines having been drawn and a portion of our county having been drawn out of "our" congressional district and into another congressional district and "they" weren't happy about having to attend two conventions so they wanted autonomy.  Then the debate began in earnest.  After all the debate, the request was withdrawn, the remainder of the rules were adopted and we broke for lunch.  So the morning was spent adopting rules that had already been set in previous years.  This was my second suspicion that today was going to be longer than LONG.

When I returned from lunch (I went home), we again took up the issue of the group wanting to break away from the county and re-debate all that.  Then, once that issue was put to rest (they won their autonomy by one vote, which had to go to a written vote which extended the process), my now comrade in votes leaned over and asked me if I had it to do over, would I volunteer to be a delegate and I only paused briefly before responding yes, that it is important that I experience this process.  The next order of business was the election of new officers, which again, I thought would go quickly but, again, I was wrong. Speeches, written votes...OY!  

While votes were being tallied, we moved onto the business of amending the Republican Platform language. O.M.G.  The process began all over at which point I turned to my "partner in crime" and informed him that yes...I wanted to change my answer.  And we laughed.  And we silently seethed and sat through yet another drawn out process.  One that I understood the need for but was anxious to see completed.

THEN...we finally got to the process (by now it is after 3pm) of electing delegates for the Congressional District 2 (CD2). And this is where things got "interesting".  I had gotten a phone call the day before asking if I would consider running for CD2 delegate.  I had briefly considered it, wanting to see how far I could actually make it (and how far I wanted to make it), and had decided no.  But  now I was being ASKED to run.  And here is why.  The next county over, I was told, had "slated" for a certain candidate.  I had no idea what this meant and as it was explained to me that a group of delegates from the caucus had gotten together "off line" and had planned to vote for ONLY delegates for the CD convention who they knew would ONLY vote for their candidate.  Thus, stacking the deck, so to speak.  Sadly (IMO), I found out that delegates from our precinct were also involved in slating (for the same candidate) and I agreed to run for delegate.  I had a lovely speech hitting all salient points of why *I* was the perfect candidate for delegate:  funny, articulate, eloquent, worldly, derisive, and self deprecating...ALL PERFECT qualities (IMNSHO) one wants in a congressional delegate.  However, I had only 30 seconds to deliver my symphony of virtues because that is all the 218 ( read that correctly...more delegates ran for a CD delegate than didn't) were given (and I'll be honest, I am fairly certain that I was cut off at 15 seconds.  I had my husband time me after the fact and I was WAY further along then when time was called.  But if you want to call that sour grapes, that's ok too) and I stood in line (being candidate number 176) for WAY longer than I would have preferred.  I happened to luck out because I had a candidate for our state representative (this is a shout out for Tony Albright) in front of me and we kept each other well entertained through our hour long plus wait in line for our "30" seconds of fame (or infamy).

After that, I selected the candidates that I wished to have as delegate (and yes, I chose myself, because even though I didn't get to deliver my entire speech, I knew how good I am), handed in my ballot to the precinct (acting) chair and tapped out.  It was 545pm and I felt like I had given all I had to give.

I spoke with someone on Sunday  morning who stayed around until 830pm and found out that I had lucked out...I had NOT been chosen for delegate (WOOT! so my April 21 date was free and clear!)  That was the good news.  The better news was that our county had NOT slated for "the other" candidate.  WOOT, WOOT!  Yes, a double WOOTER.

A stunning Saturday (it was 68 you KNOW how often it hits 68 degrees in Minnesota in March?) spent in a high school auditorium to learn "the political process".  Was it worth it?  I'm not sure I'm prepared to answer that.   Had it been a typical early March day in Minnesota, I'd say yes, it was worth it. (Go ahead, call me selfish.  I'm OK with that).  But I can certainly see why people would have NO interest, WHATSOEVER, in going through this process.  Even if you thought it was for a good cause.  Because even when things are for a good cause, there is always the chance that you will lose.  I guess it's a chance you have to take.

So, at the end of the day, when you stop and look at what's at stake, I guess I'd have to say, yeah.  I'd do it again.  I wouldn't necessarily like it.  But I'd do it.  Because it's the right thing to do.  And it goes back to Edmund Burke.

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