I am back from my first convention as a delegate. I did a lot of observing and learning while in Dallas. Here is my take on the experience.
When we first arrived at the convention center, around 10 am on Friday the 11th of June, getting registered was first order of business. I had pre-registered on line so I went straight to the booth designated by my senatorial district, showed my ID and was able to get my credentials. With out the credentials, access to the trade show and main hall were not allowed.
We then went into the trade show hall. There were not as many vendors as I thought there would be. After all, Texas has the largest Republican convention in the Union (except for the National conventions that is). Myself and my co-patriot Linda (who came with me as a 'guest') enjoyed shopping for a bit of Republican bling and checking out all of the informational booths.
Check out the Republican elephant bling around my neck...
At 12 noon the first official session began. We (about 15,000 or so) delegates, alternates and guests were summoned into the main hall. We had to sit in assigned ares, Alternates together, guests together, and delegates seated together by senatorial districts.
At this point the pep rally began. Speaker after speaker, starting with the governor and then going down the line. It seemed we heard from every Republican elected official there was. This went on for about 3 to 4 hours. Loud music (think professional ball game) streamers, confetti, promotional videos, the whole works. We finally were sent to our caucus, again separated into senatorial districts.
When I arrived at the caucus (a meeting with all counties within like senatorial districts where voting for various leaders and policies is done), the seating was now arranged by counties within the senatorial district. I proceeded to look for Waller county and I took my seat.
Waller has 10 Delegate spots and 10 Alternates. The Alternates can be seated as delegates if not all of the delegates are in attendance. This was the case for most of the counties, Waller included. We had 6 delegates and 1 alternate, so we seated the alternate right away and so we ended up with 7 delegates to vote for our county.
During this caucus, we voted for permanent caucus chair and permanent committee reps. The chair is the one who conducts the meetings. The committee reps are people from our senatorial district that work in the various committees; platform, credentials, nominations, rules. These people were appointed temporary positions and had been at the convention all week meeting in these various groups on behalf of our district. The vote to make them permanent is mostly a formality. (I need to brush up on my Robert's Rules of Order)
After the Friday night caucus, I went to the Bar-B-Q and Boots banquet. The food was ok, but the key note speaker was Michelle Bachmann. She did not disappoint.
Then home, to bed and up early for another round.
Our Saturday caucus started at 9 am in the morning. This time we voted for our senatorial district SREC (State Republican Executive Committee) representative. Each district has a male and female rep. We also voted on who the new party chair and co-chair would be. If we vote for a female chair we must vote for a male co-chair and the opposite is also true. Our districts nominee will be only one vote in the main session as each senatorial district has only one vote. During the counting of the votes, we listened to many speakers. Every elected official from the county had a turn.
We were hot and hungry and we had a lot of 'do nothing' time on our hands. This went on a LONG while, and we were all glad to be done. We then walk down to the main hall and get ready for the next session of the day. This is where the party platform would be voted on as well as the state chair and vice chair of the party.
I was looking forward to the last main session, but it was full of disappointment. The pep rally never ended. I wanted to get down to the business at hand.
Let me say that when I left at 3:30 (we had been in main session for over 2 hours) the voting had yet to begin. My vote was already counted for the chair and vice chair as we had done that in our caucus, but I wanted to vote on the platform. I was able to read over it during the speeches, and the wording seemed fine to me. I became more frustrated by the minute. The silver lining was the key note speaker, Governor Haley Barbour.
I left for the long ride home to Brookshire. I have since found out that the floor discussion and vote on the main floor was not over until 8 pm. (the schedule has this with a 4 pm conclusion time). As you can see by this picture, many had already left by 4 to begin the ride home. The Delegates do pay all their own expenses to come to these conventions, so one more night in the hotel was not an attractive proposition.
I guess if I could give the party some advice from a freshman delegate (aka Tea Party Patriot) it would be this: We want to discuss the platform, we want to create guidelines for this party going forward that are of, for and by the people. We do not need any pep rallies, we are already fired up and ready to work. We do not want these conventions to be social gatherings but work sessions. We do not want politics as usual. This is why almost half of the delegates at this convention were freshmen. We want real hope and real change....
One thing that was said by Michelle Bachmann that deserves repeating is this: If we give the gavel to the Republicans again in November and they again screw it up, they may never get another chance. This is so true. I hope the party heard this loud and clear.
This convention was a step in the right direction for me, even though I am not sure where my path is leading. Stay tuned...