Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Eyewitness Account

One of the candidates at the Washington State Republican Convention made a joke about the "elephant in the room."
The elephant was finally confronted on the second day of the convention.

I am an eyewitness of the event. I will try to avoid putting my personal spin on the event.

From choosing delegates to discussing future candidates, the entire convention was rife with calls to points of order or inquiry, people exercising for the first time their "Personal privilege" or heart privilege. A congressional incumbent was booed after putting forward a motion; his enemy was cheered after speaking against it. People were threatening each other with fights, and the peacekeepers were rare but equally threatened.

On the second day of the convention, the selection of at-large delegates had just passed. The Ron Paul campaign proposed to push that through - to vote the McCain candidates into the positions - just so that discussion on the platform and on the resolutions, which perform the same function for Republican candidates.
That was what happened.
Then, the discussion went to the platform. For about two issues, it seemed both campaigns were on the same page. After that, however, the issues become too wild -- the war in Iraq, the child-protective-services -- for the division to stay calm.
Someone moved to get the platform done with.
By the time it was done, another hour had passed. About nine calls to points of order had slowed things down.
Then, in the resolutions...
Understand, the platform committee (Party leadership) had already gone through and said to vote yes on some and no on others. Those recommendations were made based on the current party policy.
The McCain campaigners resisted passing the Yes resolutions.
The McCain campaigners made two motions to adjourn the convention early -- before resolutions.
In the end, the yes resolutions were voted to be passed by the body at large.
The McCain campaigners resisted the count.
The chairman ruled that the vote was well over two-thirds.
The McCain campaigners raised an appeal of the chair's decision.
The appeal was held to a two-thirds vote, and the chair's ruling was upheld by the body.

At this point, about five to six people got up and walked out. More people, as the motions on the floor were being proposed.
Finally, one lady called a "point of order."
The chair recognized her.
She said, "There are lots of people leaving."
Chair said, "I see it too."
She replied, "I hate to ask, but do we have a quorum?"

Definition: A quorum is having enough people present to actually vote. If five people are going to eat pizza, three people make a majority. If only two people only show up to vote, then they're not a majority. They don't have 'quorum.'

Around me, McCain supporters said nothing as they were leaving. Then Ron Paul people around me were asking, "Where are you going?" Regular replies were "None of your business." "It's a free country."
Replies were worse as they left.
Almost all of them left the room.

The lady sitting beside me went out the room and then pretended to return. She, a Ron Paul supporter, asked three ladies she didn't know, "Is it time to go? Did they give the signal?"
Their reply to her baited question was "Yeah, it's time to go. They told us to leave now."
For a separate reason, I went to the front where the the McCain delegates were departing. As I walked around, one gentleman (wearing a McCain yellow hat) was on his cellphone and trying to go back to his seat.
Another McCain delegate, a woman, was pulling him toward the door.
the man said he had left something at his chair.
The woman said, "No, you can go back and get it when its over."

All motions were suspended until a quorum was established.
While they all counted heads of remaining delegates, all Ron Paul people were on the convention floor. One person started a "crowd wave," which lasted 12 minutes. Random bouts of singing the Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful and at least one other patriotic song I can't remember. (I was trying to take notes.)
The remaining delegation laughed pretty hard when the Washington State Republican Party icon showed up on the screens. The icon was elephants walking to the right: the words above the elephants said "A Party On The March."
The Ron Paul delegates had to have 676 people still sitting. There was serious concern whether we would have enough delegates to continue the convention.
Eventually, the chairman said there was actually a quorum.

The McCain delegates tried to return. However, to reenter the hall, delegates had to prove their identity over again (like at airport security.)
That gave the remaining delegate the time to pass one resolution, the only resolution passed at the WA convention: The Republican Party requires the President to have a declaration of war before going to war for more than 180 days.
When it passed unanimously, the cheers were loud.

Once the McCain delegates returned, it was 6:30 p.m., about an hour and half after the originally scheduled time to end.
For another half hour, the fight to continue the delegation's existence was fought. It ended without a two-thirds majority in favor.

I witnessed the passing of that resolution.
I saw the McCain delegation attempt to end the convention without resolutions by removing the delegation's quorum.

Our congresswoman and Spokane city councilwoman both said they haven't seen this happen in their time in the republican party. The councilwoman said she was a member of the Republican party in 1980 - a year before I was born.

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