Washington State Republican Convention - Day 1Submitted by ShannonOBrien on Sat, 05/31/2008 - 11:00
First of all, I have to say that all reports of corruption are greatly exaggerated. I DID see corruption. But compared to what has happened in Nevada and Texas, it was nothing. I saw far more good things happen than bad. I actually thought it was very beautiful and when I saw all of our supporters there and their passion, I knew that this revolution is here to stay.
I'll try to walk you through my personal experience yesterday. My husband and I got there in the morning and we were expecting to be beat. At our hotel the night before, the convention had had some fancy dinner in our hotel and... I thought we had accidentally walked into a nursing home. No disrespect, but everybody must have been at least 80 years old. So I figured we had been outnumbered because it seems that most Ron Paul people are under 50 or so. At least, it looks like that to me.
So as I walked into the state convention I was expecting to be the only Ron Paul supporter there. Well first thing I saw, right when I walked in was a Ron Paul booth and a whole bunch of people talking around it. I also saw some vendor booths for a couple of fellow Ron Paul republicans running for local offices. We went upstairs to be credentialed and since I had heard all of the horror stories about supporters being "credentialed" and then being disqualified, I was expecting the worst. But there was no problem. I just took my packet and showed them my ID. By the way, we had to show our IDs about 100 times that day. It was getting obnoxious.
We had a lot of time to kill so we decided to walk across the street and go to this RV we had seen that was decked out in Ron Paul everything. They even had a sign the size of a billboard up on some building. That seemed to be Ron Paul central. We hung out there for a little bit and I've never been to a meetup before so this was the first time I'd ever met so many supporters. They were debating politics and I just realized that everyone in this movement is a great intellectual. I never saw a dumb Ron Paul supporter. So anyway, they were accepting donations and we wanted to give money but we didn't have cash (or gold) so we had to go to the ATM at our hotel across the street.
We go to the hotel and my husband is at the ATM getting money and I was one foot away from this guy on his cell phone. I recognized him but I couldn't remember where. Then I heard him say into his phone, "Yeah I'm the chairman of the 1st district." This is my district so my ears perked up. He continued, "Yeah well these Ron Paul people are trying to take over the convention. They're going to take 2 of 9 and so we had to do a kind of last minute rule change." I was totally shocked. First of all, I couldn't believe that he was saying this all out in the open when he was one foot away from me, second of all, what are the chances that I would have heard that? It was bizarre. I tried to listen to more but he stopped talking about it and we had to go anyway or we were going to be late.
We donated to the Ron Paul RV people and took some buttons. We told them what we had heard and they were not surprised. We all had to go because it was getting to be that time so we finished up our conversation and walked across the street to the convention center.
My husband and I were both alternates. We were number 24 and number 25 on the list so we weren't expecting to become delegates. There was a section of seating that was reserved for alternates and a section reserved for delegates and they were curtained off from each other but we could both still see the same things. I saw a bunch of Ron Paul signs and a bunch of people decked out in Ron Paul gear but I still believed it wasn't a significant amount.
Then the convention started.
We watched the first couple of speakers talk. Nothing too controversial. They hinted at party unity but they were putting in a long term context. Then our ex-sheriff (who I think might be running for congress but I don't remember) spoke. He made a fatal error. He had been going on about great republican values and then made the statement, "But let's talk about what this convention is really about-- nominating John McCain for president." And I heard a massive amount of boos that outweighed the cheers, by far. It was hilarious. People were shouting this out like, "WAR FOREVER!" Then someone in the crowd yelled out, "RON PAUL! RON PAUL!" and everyone else started shouting and it was louder and louder and a hundred Ron Paul signs came out waving in the air. It was beautiful. It was so exciting. My stomach was doing backflips but mostly I was really proud. I was proud because it takes a lot of bravery to stand up in front of a large group of people who disagree with you (and who are also in the positions of power) and unapologetically voice yourself.
The ex-sheriff back peddled among all the cheering. He said, "Ok maybe not all of us..." and then a remarkable thing happened. He changed his speech around. I'm sure he was going to go on and on about how great John McCain is and he just couldn't because of all of the pressure. That gave me hope. From then on, with the speeches, it was all about including Ron Paul supporters and our shared values. I heard several times, "Someone who agrees with me 80% of the time is not my enemy 20% of the time." Lots of stuff like that. Apparently, the media reported that RP people had 40% of the room. But I think it was closer to 50% based on the way people voted and all of the Ron Paul shouting.
Immediately, there were lots of motions and point of orders. We weren't going to let anything slide. All of the McCain people seemed especially pissed about this. I could hear them talking around me and they were scared that we were going to use the rules against them. But they were really just scared because they didn't take the time to learn the rules and they didn't like feeling stupid. One of the women who has been a key figure in organizing us in Washington went up to speak to ask if her husband, who is running for congress (and a Ron Paul Republican) could give a short speech later. They called for a vote that required 2/3 majority. A HUGE number of people yelled out in support of him. They ruled that yes, there was a 2/3 majority and everyone cheered loudly. Here is what I thought was weird though-- there were so many 2/3 majority votes and nobody was doing any counting. It was just a guess. But there was no way to know because everybody was so spread out. From what I could see, it always looked 50-50 to me. But it's perfectly within the rules. I do think that the chair ruled in favor of what he wanted whether the numbers were there or not. But maybe I'm just paranoid.
Then something juicy happened. A woman went up to the microphone and said that she wanted Skagit County delegates to not be able to participate because they had cheated at their county convention and only elected "certain" delegates and disqualified a lot of them because they said that they didn't file their paperwork in time. But she had worked inside the party and she showed three different documents that proved that this was not true and that they were cheating. Everyone seemed really for it at first, but then a Ron Paul supporter went up there and ruined it. He said that the chairman only wanted John McCain delegates and disqualified Ron Paul supporters. For the delegates on the floor, that quickly changed it from a did-they-follow-the-rules issue to just a McCain-vs-Paul issue. So they had a vote and I am so sure it was 50-50 and the chair ruled that the Skagit County delegates would NOT be disqualified. Then a bunch of people motioned to open the floor up to the debate but it was overruled again and again.
Then a woman went up to the podium and gave us a report of the how many alternates were going to be assigned to fill in for the delegates that didn't show up. There were some minor corrections. She fixed them and came back and gave the final count. A lot of alternates were taken. In my county there were 7 delegate slots open to be filled by alternates. We were told to go upstairs to get credentialed. My husband and I didn't think we would get the spots because we were so far down the list. We went upstairs anyway. When we got to the table for our county, they told us that we were going to be delegates. We were so thrilled! At my county caucus, I believe we had 32% of the delegates and something like 53% of the alternates. So the more alternates, the better.
We ran downstairs so we wouldn't miss anything. They checked our IDs and we finally got to sit in the front with all the other delegates. THAT was beautiful. The support was even louder there. I asked someone what I missed and she told me that we had just missed "a bloodbath." She said that someone made a motion saying that they wanted to wait for all of the alternates to be assigned before they did any voting and then a whole bunch of people didn't like that but the funny thing is that since they spent so much time debating, we had all been seated at the convention before the voting began. So it was a smart move on our part.
This one guy gave an awesome speech, he was a McCain guy but he really knew how to get the crowd fired up. He would say things like, "We need to get spending under control, like a certain congressman from Texas... RON PAUL!" and the crowd would go crazy and then he would say, "And also like a certain senator from Arizona... JOHN MCCAIN!" and then there would be cheers from the crowd and also a lot of boos and a handful of, "WAR!" chants. One really funny thing happened though. While he was making his speech, he said rhetorically, "...And what does John McCain have to offer?" and people shouted out, "War!" and "Amnesty!" It was so funny. I couldn't stop laughing. He said he was reading "The Revolution" and that he believes that we really are having a revolution and it is long term and it is a powerhouse. That guy was really good at stressing the point that the party wants RP people to work inside the party, they want them to not feel excluded, they want them to be have a say in the direction the party goes and I think he was genuine. Now as for other people within the party, I saw first hand that not everybody feels that way.
Ok, so after all of our speeches we split up and went to our congressional districts in various conference rooms. The credentialed everyone for the 100th time and kicked out all of the alternates because they didn't want them to be voting unless one of the delegates left the room. Nobody in my district was outraged by that. They went into the hallway. I saw my chairman (the one who was on his cell phone earlier) and I was prepared for the worst. But it didn't happen. He didn't do any rule changes at all. But it's because we got our butts kicked. We lost. They took all the delegates and all the alternates, fair and square. They won because they had put a slate on everyone's chair saying who to vote for if you wanted McCain to win and McCain people had the room. I can't give them props though; they weren't original enough to come up with the idea themselves. We were the ones who started that idea. Based on how everyone voted, I calculated that we had about 35% of the room - up 3% from last time because of the alternates. Which I think means that all of our delegates showed up which is the best we could hope for.
The votes were counted by a scanner. Which, by the way, took like an HOUR to count 148 or so votes every time we voted. The chairman was getting testy about this so he had someone tell the people counting the votes (and there were mostly Ron Paul people acting as tellers) that if they didn't hurry up he wanted to have a hand count. But then someone told him that it was against the rules to have a hand count. Is that true?
Anyway, while we were waiting a lot of local republicans running for office in our county spoke and it was good because we got to ask them a lot of questions and put pressure on them. Foreign policy was ignored, of course. The few times it was alluded to, it was very awkward.
At the end of all of it, the chairman had all of the McCain supporters stand up and applaud all of the Ron Paul supporters and they sincerely gave us props. It was a smart move on the GOP insiders' part. We need to look at it this way: This is a long term revolution. Right now, they are giving us the opportunity to civilly influence the party. There are trade offs. They get 1 million votes, 1 million activists and 1 million donations. We get power, influence and a vehicle to further the movement. TAKE IT. We know it's not going to happen over night. We should help out a republican who doesn't agree with us on some things because if we help him from inside the party, we don't have to write letters anymore. We can talk directly to him and tell him what we want him to do and not do. And then when there is a Ron Paul Republican we really like, we can max out our support for that person and we will have the vehicle to do it. We have the republican party's blessing instead of having to fight against them every step of the way. Do this and I think over time we will see that local republicans running for office can get even MORE support if they support our ideas. If they run on a neocon agenda, we'll send some letters. But if they run on a traditional republican agenda we'll make him a website, get him on tv, write mass emails, give him a massive amount of money, etc. Also, most of these local republicans are so easily swayed. They are weak and they need a strong platform to run on in order to win their elections. I talked to one of them for 5 minutes about inflation and the price of oil and I didn't berate him. I said, "I've heard this, I was wondering if you knew it was true or not, but I read this article saying that the price of oil compared to gold hasn't gone up at all but in comparison to the price of the dollar it has gone up significantly, is that true?" He said, "Well, I haven't heard that but that makes sense. I'll have to look into that." Now, whether he will look it up or not, I don't know. But I do know that he hadn't heard of that before and now he has. I said it in a way that will make him think that he came up with the idea, and that he came to the right conclusion on his own.
This candidate's wife had also asked me several times before if I would campaign for her husband, but I had always blown her off saying "oh, I have to work - sorry" because I didn't want to help a neocon get elected. Currently, the guy doesn't seem to have a whole lot of volunteers and he's probably going to lose, but I didn't care. But then I saw a Youtube video where someone from the black civil rights movement said that their whole problem was that they never tried to do the nitty-gritty work within the system itself. So now this is my plan: I'm going to go up to his wife and tell her she should have him meet with a local Ron Paul meetup group for dinner and just listen to them and hear their ideas. He doesn't have to adopt any of their ideologies or anything - he just has to listen. Then I can work on getting Ron Paul supporters to help out his campaign, because a Ron Paul volunteer is worth five regular volunteers, since they will raise five times as much money, get five times as much support, and email-bomb news stations to get him some face time. If I show them what Ron Paul support can do for them, and if they invite more Ron Paul people into their inner circle, then they will slowly shift towards holding a more libertarian-like ideology. This is how real change in the party will take place. It won't happen if we just go on with our all-or-nothing standpoint and reject anyone who's not ideologically pure. Movements that do that quickly fizzle out.
So I hope that all of you will go to your state conventions and I really hope that you all go to work inside the GOP with your knowledge. If you want a long term revolution, (which I already know you do) we can do it by doing the boring, behind the scenes, nitty gritty stuff.
RON PAUL REVOLUTION!