The GOP WA State Convention Story That Isn't Being ToldSubmitted by cgregson on Tue, 06/03/2008 - 16:25
I wrote this up for all us Paulites:
There is an interesting part of the political wrangling of day 2 that isn't being talked about, but to those who really paid attention it's an exciting story. Day 2 started out with the presentation of a "unity slate" of delegates presented by the McCain folks, which was placed on every chair of the convention center. Knowing that those delegates would be "elected" no matter what, the Ron Paul leadership moved to pass it straight away with no debate. When the McCain workers finally realized what the motion said and exchanged their red "NO" signs for green "YES" signs, and the motion passed, the McCain faithful from both the stage and the audience gave a standing ovation in support of the Paul delegates’ willingness to "come together" and unite, something which had been repeatedly called for throughout the weekend. The Paul delegates calculated that with the unity slate having the majority representation anyhow, sending it sailing though on approval would not waste valuable time which could be used to debate the platform.
Next, the platform debate took place and that also was fairly expedient, with only a few sections being placed aside for further debate. Now, the task at hand was to debate slight changes to the platform on the "set aside" sections and with a calm over the convention floor not previously seen this weekend, it was smooth sailing. It did in fact seem that after a day's worth of calling for unity, it might actually be happening. After the platform was accepted, the delegates had two tasks at hand. There were 2 packets of resolutions, one recommended by the platform committee and the other packet a recommended against. A representative of the Paul campaign motioned that the Yes packet seemed wholly acceptable and motioned to debate the No packet first and then return to the Yes packet in order to have more time to debate the differences in opinion between the factions. The McCain collective quickly moved to vote No on this motion. Debate then continued on the "yes" packet and with the minor addition of a resolution to accept a plan to allow power companies to rebuild bridges that were desperately in need of replacement in exchange for rights to build "low flow" turbines at the base which would not impede water flow or harm fish, the yes packet passed.
Here is where it gets interesting, with approximately 50 minutes before the scheduled 5 pm close of the convention, most of the McCain delegates walked off of the convention floor en masse with the intent of breaking quorum and abruptly ending any further debate at the convention. (As she returned to the floor after lunch, a Paul delegate actually overheard one McCain lieutenant instructing another in the cue to leave.) A roll call was immediately ordered to determine if a quorum still existed. With a few McCain functionaries still present on the floor with FBI-style earpieces and microphones, and a few who refused their leadership's instructions still seated, the count ensued while the rest of the McCain delegation waited just off the floor in the hallway, poised to rush back in should a quorum still stand. Some McCain delegates were fully aware of the intent to cut off debate on further issues and some were not sure why a majority of McCain delegates left en masse. The Ron Paul delegation remained on the floor wanting to fully debate the No resolutions, most of which were theirs. The McCain delegates in the know stayed because they didn't agree with the move to block further discussion, and the McCain delegates not knowing what had happened were soon filled in on the details of the plan and didn't seem to appreciate the move...they also remained. Here is a quote from a McCain delegate about the plan:
"I left the convention floor yesterday, after being instructed by senior county party members to do so in protest to the NO resolutions as a political tactic so that there would no longer be a quorum and the convention would be required by the Permanent Chairman to adjourn SINE DIE ("without day") to cease any and all debate or motions for the NO resolutions thereby negating the entire body of NO resolutions."
While the count continued, the remaining delegates on the floor broke out into a rendition of "God Bless America" and were joined by the entire chair committee. Shortly after, the cover of the GOP Convention program with a slogan "Party on the March" was flashed up on the screen to much amusement among the remaining delegates.
With the count finished, a quorum was still in effect. A huge cheer erupted, and the Ron Paul Delegation wasted no time putting forth a motion on a "No" resolution. This resolution was one of their core differences with the McCain delegates, a resolution to hold Congress to their constitutional duty to declare war and to recuse delegation of those powers to the Executive Branch and/or the President. This resolution passed with a resounding majority, during which time McCain faithful flowed back to their chairs after being instructed from the floor by McCain lieutenants, and demanded another roll call for delegate numbers. This was completed and shortly thereafter, a motion from the Ron Paul delegation to suspend the rules and extend the convention until "all business was done" was defeated (this motion needed a 2/3 vote). This therefore ended the convention.
So the question is, while this was a perfectly legal tactic, did the McCain "old guard" disenfranchise the Paul contingent and even some of their own? The Quorum would not have been maintained if all of the McCain delegation had in fact walked out, but it was maintained. Keep in mind that all weekend the McCain delegation was advocating the need for unity, repeatedly assuring the Paul delegation they were interested in new ideas and welcomed new blood. So, why did they walk out when it came time to debate and consider these new ideas? With only 50 minutes left in the convention this seemed petty. Certainly petty to the Paul delegation and I'm sure to their surprise, some of their own.
The interesting question is what now? If the Ron Paul delegation is put off enough by the politics of this whole system and doesn’t show up in the future, I'd say hats off to the McCain camp, they did in fact win. However, if this serves to invigorate the Paul delegation to remain diligent and cause a few of McCain faithful to question their allegiances, the future may not have been worth the needless back-handed wrangling of a delegation who had already won everything they wanted.