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Liveblogging a GOP District Convention

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Hey, political junkies. I'm at the Texas Senate District 14 (more or less Travis County) Republican convention and it's dragging on so I might as well take advantage of the free wireless provided by the Austin ISD to put some notes out about the experience of attending a district convention. Special thanks to the folks from Americans for Prosperity who got bored and abandoned their booth in the convention hall, unwittingly providing me with a comfy place to sit down and share my thoughts.

So, how did I get here? Most people who haven't been through the process have no idea how one gets involved in the convoluted process through which the parties pick their candidates and set their platforms. You go and vote in your primary or in a caucus and you think that's all there is. That's really just the beginning. After you vote in the primary some of the most motivated voters get together and hold a precinct convention.

Attendees at the precinct convention vote to select delegates who then go to a regional convention, in this case broken down by Senatorial districts, which is why I'm at the Senate District 14 convention right now. Our precinct convention had an impressive turnout. In 2006 there were three of us at the convention. This year there were more than two dozen, which is a big step forward for our largely rural district. Of course, the Democrats had even more, but the growth we showed was very encouraging.

Here at the district convention we pick another set of delegates who get to go to the state convention, and at the state convention they will pick our state's delegates to the national convention this summer. In addition to picking delegates each of these conventions votes on resoultions which ultimately get passed up through the process in hopes of finding their way into the party platform, which is symbolically very important because it gives a sense of where the party body politics stands on the issues and ought to be taken to heart by candidates, even if the resolutions include no absolute compulsion to enact legislation down the road.

I don't guarantee that all the district conventions around the country are just like this one, but there are going to be a lot of basic similarities and even Democrat conventions will be structurally similar. Ours may be a bit unusual, because we're representing a Republican minority in an overwhelmingly Democratic district within a state which is equally overwhelmingly Republican. Every statewide elected official in Texas is a Republican. All but one elected official in this district is a Democrat. A very weird political situation. I knew this before the convention, but it was really driven home to me on the drive over here when it took 45 minutes to get here from my house which is all of four miles away because my route took me by the Texas Exposition and Heritage Center where the Democrats were holding their convention with so many attendees that traffic from every direction was blocked by endless lines of cars and by pedestrians who had parked miles away and walked to the convention.

I have to admit it was pretty intimidating, but our Republican turnout isn't exactly embarassing. We've got double the numbers that turned out for the 2006 convention and that includes lots of first-time participants. Many of the new delegates were brought here by their interest in Ron Paul, but for the most part they're sticking around and taking it seriously and deserve some credit for that.

2:43 PM: What Happened to Lunch Breaks?

So, you may wonder why my first entry beyond the initial introduction comes at almost 3 p.m. It's largely because it took us about six hours from the 9 a.m. start of the convention to actually get beyond the first procedural rules debate and move on to the meat of the convention.

About Dave Nalle

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Paul,

    If you look at my comments on the American presidential race, you’ll see that they follow a consistent theme, one which doesn’t necessarily have to do with Israel. That theme is that whatever the rights or wrongs of the matter, your country can no longer afford to be in Iraq. Your involvement there is bankrupting you.

    If you remember, I tend to agree with you about the CFR and the various biggies draining the American economy. The book A Century of War, by William Engdahl, confirms all this without spelling out what others dismiss as conspiracy theory.

    As for Ron Paul, unfortunately, he seems to have a spotted history concerning Jew-hatred. But his one positive concept, so far as I was concerned, was pulling American troops out of many of the places where they don’t belong. Frankly, the media shunting him aside so that he did not have a Chinaman’s chance of winning did him the favor of keeping him alive. The shadow government that runs your country would have had him killed if he did not knuckle under to the directives of those who employ the CFR, the oil and banking establishment.

    If Obama gets the Democratic nomination, the same thing may happen to him, if he does not knuckle under to those who employ the CFR. Remember all the blood and death that surrounded the Clintons in office a decade ago. The media protecting Obama the way the Israeli media protected Rabin, Sharon and now (to a far lesser extent) Olmert, may just be a swift ride to his own grave. Consider where Sharon is now and where Rabin is now, just to mention two examples….

    Having been squeezed for the concessions that they could give the American oil and banking establishment, they were spit out like sunflower seeds. These assholes play for keeps.

    But returning to my commenting on American politics, where I think it is relevant, I do comment. See upthread, comment #15.

    At some levels, America is still a functioning democracy, which is more than can be said for the falafel republic I live in now. But, on the other hand, I did not move here to worship at the altar of democracy.

    This senate district convention that Dave so ably covered, whatever you think of his views, is an example of democracy still functioning in America – more or less….

  • Clavos


    This senate district convention that Dave so ably covered, whatever you think of his views, is an example of democracy still functioning in America – more or less….”

    Interesting.

    I saw the description of what went on at that district convention as a microcosm of the inherent chaos and ineffectiveness of democracies. A camel, as the saying goes, is a horse designed by a committee.

    Which is why the Founders did not set up, and never intended for, this country to be a democracy, despite what grade school civics teachers have been brainwashing kids with for generations.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I think I’m with Clavos on this issue. Democracy is a crude and ugly way to run anything. It’s also not terribly effective. The story I wrote here is really one of the struggle between democracy and the rule of law, and what we ended up with was somewhere inbetween, which I think is about as good as you can get when those two forces are involved. Too much democracy is mob rule and too much rules and structures takes out the representative element of the process.

    Dave

  • wildnfree

    Dave,
    I must say that this was an enjoyable little article. I actually like the term renegade republican! Although if anyone were to read the words of Buckley (who paved the way for the conservative commentators of today), they would call them retro-republicans. Tell me that they have a future, and get McCain to promise us that he will endeavor to undo or stop whatever B.S. Bush and congress do to attempt to “fix” (read collectivize) the housing industry. I agree with what he says on this and hope he can follow through. Who knows I might not vote for Wayne A. Root this time.
    I am thankful that at the few local Republican Party events that I attended here in SC, that all of the politically informed people were polite and welcoming. The problems came when when dealing with Bubba Joe in his rebel flag painted monster truck who would call us commies because we; A. wanted to reduce the size of the government B. get rid of the IRS,BATFE, Depts. of Agriculture, Homeland Security etc., and C. stop killing little brown people.
    It’s true that a lot of Paulites do not realize that a lot of what they believe in is already part of the party platform. It just gets overlooked or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, but it is there.
    I really believe that a lot of the haters show up ignorant of what they are supporting and this what causes so much of the problems that they create.
    But I hope this little revolution continues because every little step in the right direction helps.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I must say that this was an enjoyable little article. I actually like the term renegade republican!

    I like the term too. I think they should play it up and take it nationwide. It’s a lot more viable in the loing term than sticking with Ron Paul as their identifier.

    Although if anyone were to read the words of Buckley (who paved the way for the conservative commentators of today), they would call them retro-republicans.

    The term a lot of them use is ‘paleo-republican’, but I’m not sure it’s really accuratge.

    Tell me that they have a future, and get McCain to promise us that he will endeavor to undo or stop whatever B.S. Bush and congress do to attempt to “fix” (read collectivize) the housing industry. I agree with what he says on this and hope he can follow through.

    I think they don’t get McCain at all. If they understood him they might realize that he’s their best hope. I think he would be easy for them to influence. He’s already philosophically sympathetic to them and he’s also receptive to negotiation. If they approached him the right way I think they could push him towards a much more libertarian position on a lot of issues. It’s a much more realistic strategy than continuing to stump for the unelectable Ron Paul.

    The problems came when when dealing with Bubba Joe in his rebel flag painted monster truck who would call us commies because we; A. wanted to reduce the size of the government B. get rid of the IRS,BATFE, Depts. of Agriculture, Homeland Security etc., and C. stop killing little brown people.

    You breed your bubbas differently in SC. Here in Texas the bubbas are all on board with Ron Paul and striking out at the government.

    It’s true that a lot of Paulites do not realize that a lot of what they believe in is already part of the party platform. It just gets overlooked or sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, but it is there.
    I really believe that a lot of the haters show up ignorant of what they are supporting and this what causes so much of the problems that they create.

    Well, if everyone comes in with a hostile attitude then they’re never going to find the common ground that they share.

    Dave

  • wildnfree

    Dave, most of our Bubbas here were Huckabee supporters. They have no problem with big government as long as everyone is forced to live by the moral code that they deem appropriate. As I said they have no concept of true republicanism.
    The Paul supporters in my group were a mixed bag of college kids, artists, small business men, gothic 20 somethings, bikers, backwoodsmen, Libertarian and Constitution party members, and other assorted weirdos (by SC standards anyway). Even today at my office people think that I’m some kind of radical anarchist nut case.
    Oh well you gotta love this game even if it does get you dirty sometimes.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Chances are that most of your bubbas were democrats at one time either when they were younger or a generation back in the family tree. Good ole southern democrats with a bible in one hand and the other one pulling down their white hood. Pretty much the opposite of real Republicans.

    But then you guys DO have Mark Sanford, the guy who is going to actually do what Ron Paul is trying to do in this election, come 2012.

    Dave

  • wildnfree

    Very true. I my self am descended from several generations of good ;} democrats. My grandpa spent nearly an hour cussing at me when I showed up at his house with a Reagan button on in ’84. (my first election!)
    Sanford does have the ability to pull off the smooth act and bite his tongue when it is appropriate, something that Paul has never had, and never will get.
    The problem will come in getting us to let go of Sanford! He is probably the most successful Republican governor of my adulthood.
    It amazed me that he got elected the first time because all of his ads carried the statement “Libertarian/Republican” I voted for him but thought that he was doomed.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I wish Sanford were running this year, but I can understand why he wouldn’t want to. After a disastrous Obama administration the public will be so eager for responsible government that Sanford will have a much easier time of it. I just don’t look forward to four years of hell.

    Dave