Saturday, May 31, 2008

Speech day 

Day Two of the MNGOP is ongoing, and so far what we've heard are speeches. Lots of them. Governor Pawlenty was here around 9am, and I only caught the last five minutes of this as I took a few minutes to chat with people outside, including one very interesting person (more on which below.) Congressional candidates Ed Matthews and Brian Davis spoke afterwards. The AM1280 the Patriot coverage started at 9 with the David Strom Show; David and Margaret are visiting with Barb Davis White right now, who expects to get up and speak to the convention later today. The feature speaker later will be Karl Rove.

This being day 2, it's a slower day today; all the rules and delegates for national have been chosen, and the rancor of yesterday has disappeared mostly. True North has impressions from other conservatives who were here yesterday, and most seem of the opinion that it didn't go very well with the spat over the rules and nominations. A lot of the reason for the rancor, in this observer's view, was that each side was underprepared for what happened. The party chose a set of rules that was meant to respond to the looseness of the Congressional District conventions and the success of the Ron Paul organizers there; these responses were encouraged and even promulgated by party regulars. However, the rules were not an overreaction. However, the rules were only handed out as delegates arrived in the morning; even with the late start of the convention, there was probably two hours for outsiders to digest and strategise. Possible, but hard, and for people less familiar with conventions probably an insuperable task.

Yesterday a woman came to the booth before we are on air, broken down by the rout of the Paul faction that was here. We spoke briefly but she wasn't able to collect her thoughts. By chance she stood behind me at the Starbucks this morning and we had a better conversation. I tried as best I could to explain some thoughts about what had happened. I encouraged her not to sacrifice her principles while finding how to participate in the process, and how to change it. She was not happy, arguing this was unfair. "This is how dictatorships happen. People are pissed."

The question is, do you think that's unfair? Does the party have an obligation to put rules out a day before? A week? What's proper notice? I think reasonable people can come to different conclusions about this, and I have sympathy for both sides. There is a learning curve each person faces when joining an organization. There is something to be said for helping new members along that learning curve; there's also something to be said for organizations moving through their workload in the manner they have found arrives at the best solutions for the organization. I try to educate new faculty on the ways of the department and university, but it's also true that they speak less, participate less their first year or two. Draw that line where you wish; I am just going to say it isn't easy.

Glen Menze is now up; this looks like the course of the day. Listen on the radio or the stream to us all day for news of the day from Rochester. I may post some impressions of the Karl Rove seat if I get back from coffee with David and Margaret, to which I'm now off.

UPDATE: Barb Davis White just gave props to Ron Paul to great applause from a majority of the delegates (some sat on their hands.) Line of the day: "I'll be done speaking in a few minutes. I'm black and I'm Jewish, I talk a lot."

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