Monday, March 14, 2016

Notes from the Convention

So Steve and I attended the County Republican Convention Saturday.  I was a delegate and Steve was an alternate, eventually credentialled and seated as a delegate from our precinct (so we could sit together after the first 2 hours).  I was a delegate 16 years ago, in the 2000 election cycle, when Tertia was a baby and I was eager to defeat Al Gore and his "extra chromosome right-wing" arrogance.  That was an anxiety-producing election cycle, at least at the end, but the convention seemed pretty boring.  George W. Bush was the clearcut nominee by that time and I was happy about it.  This year's convention had its boring stretches, but there was an undercurrent of intensity and urgency that kept it interesting.

You may have gathered by now that my sympathies are with the #NeverTrump movement.  There are those Republicans who say we have to support the party's nominee no matter who he is. But I think this is more like a hostile takeover, and there is a narrow window of opportunity to shut it down before a serial liar, adulterer and narcissist takes over the party and destroys it in the process.  And if you disagree with me about the narcissism and say it is not our place to diagnose from afar (because the lying and adultery  are well-documented), I invite you to peruse the Wikipedia entry for Narcissistic Personality Disorder with Donald Trump in mind.  And, although it may seem sensationalistic, this article which makes the connection.  If we don't want Trump to become the dictator of the Republican Party, this article is worth reading to see the range of strategies being embraced by different Republican leaders. I like Bill Kristol, Danielle Pletka, Eric Cantor and Ari Fleisher's takes on the situation best. Not many seem enthusiastic about Trump who are in leadership positions. Of course, some grassroots people don't trust the leadership, by definition. I would urge them to rethink that contrarian position, and consider the long-term effects of a Trump nomination. And if they are in Ohio, which is a winner-take-all state, I'd urge them to vote for Kasich even if he's not their personal favorite. And if they are in Florida, also winner-take-all, consider voting for Rubio rather than letting it go to Trump. My personal hope is that we can go all the way to the National convention with no clear nominee, but with delegates who will represent the party rules as required in the first round of balloting, and then vote to nominate someone who can actually unite the party and bring in some new people as well.  Does anyone leave perfectly happy in every regard? No, but that's how politics works.  It's not for the fainthearted, or the selfish.  And there are some stands you have to take. Such as no unstable narcissists in positions of world power, and don't make your party a laughing-stock and therefore irrelevant, just because you're angry.

So at the Convention, my strategy was to vote to send delegates to the State Convention who would be pledged to support candidates other than Trump. And, once the balloting began, it was encouraging to see that that was the main strategy of others.  Before that, I was a little discouraged.  Because apparently in the 16 years since I last was active at this level, my support for a mainstream candidate like Rubio or Bush brands me as one of those "moderates" (said with a shocked face by a longtime friend I ran into there). I never thought of myself as a moderate, but that's what you are, I guess, if you never really like the "outsiders" supported by the people who are reflexively angry at the "establishment" (i.e., the people who have been Republicans longer than Donald Trump has). But even though Cruz is not my favorite of the remaining candidates, I'll support him in the general if he is the nominee. For me, the primary issue is and has always been the right to life; the others take a backseat. Both Cruz and Rubio are solid on the pro-life issue, and so is Kasich.  Trump says Planned Parenthood does "wonderful things." But this is turning into more of a rant than it already was.

It was interesting as the many rounds of balloting progressed.  There were maybe 5 people who listed Trump as their favorite, and one of them was only because she used to be a Carson backer and he threw his support to Trump. The Trumpbots didn't make a lot of headway.  I was left with the impression that we were sending good, ordinary people on to the State level, and they would use their native common sense and decency to promote sensible decision-making and choose more sensible, decent people to make decisions at the national level.  Where it might really matter this time.  It's kind of like crowd-sourcing, I guess. And as was pointed out, the allocation of delegates in the Republican Party is much more democratic than in the Democratic Party, where someone like Sanders can win a major state like Michigan and still fall behind because of superdelegates pledged to Hillary.

We ended up having to vote to extend the convention twice, so that all the balloting could be finished and the platform amendments voted on.  There is a process in place for all of it, and no matter how tedious, it was encouraging and enlightening to watch it in action.  I hope it will be all right in the long run.  But it will be a nailbiter.  I will need to have a lot of knitting handy.  My argyles are much farther along than they were before Saturday.

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