Last Saturday (3/24/12) I was assisting with the organizing of one of the most hostile, anti-Ron Paul, Republican county Conventions in the State of Minnesota. Here are some of the high points of the convention with video included.
They had scheduled the venue, a local government middle school, until 5pm and of course had to pay extra for using the space longer. The convention convened at 9am, and didn’t adjourn until 10:15p that night.
Although they tried to immediately pass a rule prohibiting videotaping, it was out of order thus null and void. It’s a public meeting that was not in what’s called “Executive Session” meaning that recording is indeed allowed. They did ask the observers in the back of the room who had cameras on tripods at the beginning of the day to leave and unfortunately they complied. Several people did try and remove me from the room too!
They did all sorts of other things to attempt to stack the deck in their favor too.
First of all, because of redistricting, they had to create an entirely new organization. Therefore all officers had to be elected, bylaws had to be adopted, and the rules for the convention had to be approved by everyone at the convention. That’s a long process. But they wanted to keep much of the previous organization intact along with the old mentality of “it’s the way we’ve been doing it and we will continue doing it this way”. Most of the rules favored the establishment and were essentially an incumbent protection plan for those who held power in the district prior to redistricting. This is a very heavy Romney area and they didn’t want their club overrun with new people who weren’t obedient to their political caste system.
There were several mechanisms in the rules and bylaws we were trying to get changed to remove their built-in advantage. Without going into great detail when it came time to vote for delegates to the Congressional District and State Convention about 50 people got in line behind the mic to nominate themselves. The establishment had posted a list on the screen of delegates who they wanted to be nominated (all establishment people) and called for a vote on it. We interjected (I instructed our people to hover around the mic) and Ron Paul supporters started trying to nominate themselves. The establishment fought that, and then someone moved to close nominations. The Chair was going to take a vote on closing nominations but that was out of order. I had a copy of RRO in my hand and was coaching the Ron Paul delegates who were willing to be vocal on fighting this. I explained to them exactly what to say since I wasn’t allowed to speak aloud to the convention or address the Chair; this part is in the video.
At this point the room went berserk as Ron Paul delegates (and many Santorum supporters I suspect) were livid that the establishment was trying to ram through their slate of delegates without allowing any other nominations.The Chair got into a yelling match with our people over the PA system because he initially refused to follow the rules and this was the only way to stop him or at least slow him down enough to force proper parliamentary procedure to be followed. For a few seconds I thought we were about to have a riot in the audience as the Romney / establishment crowd was yelling against our people en masse.
RRO clearly states that a call to close floor nominations was out of order if individuals were still attempting to nominate themselves (about 50 people still were). The Chair and parliamentarian didn’t seem to care, or know RRO, and they didn’t seem inclined to be bothered to look it up either until effectively forced to do so by us. This is also in the video.
We weren’t winning the argument that a move to close floor nominations was out of order at that time so I instructed our guy at the mic to drop the subject and allow for the vote, because RRO requires a 2/3rd majority in order to close floor nominations and I was confident the establishment didn’t have those numbers. And I told him that even if they did have 2/3rd, then we could appeal the motion anyway because it was in clear violation of RRO and effectively out of order thus making it null and void. So the Chair called for a vote for closing floor nominations after only 1 person had been nominated. A vote was taken, the Chair tried to sneak it through by saying the “ayes have it” which was an outright lie. Our people screamed “DIVISION” at the top of their lungs and forced a standing count. Then the Chair tried to say “the ayes had it” after the count even though it was a simple majority not reaching the required 2/3rd amount of votes. The way I understand it they were 1 vote short of attaining the required 2/3rd votes necessary to close nominations. We had to point out to the chair AGAIN that it was 2/3 required to close nominations from the floor because he was going to try and pretend that it only requires 50% which it doesn’t. The video documents this part very clearly.
Because of our quick action, we were able to allow floor nominations for everyone who wanted to be nominated and opening it up so that not just the establishment’s hand-picked slate could run for delegate slots to the Congressional and State Conventions. Our goal was to make the convention open, transparent, and fair for everyone who the establishment was disenfranchising, not just supporters of Ron Paul. To say that the establishment was LIVID would be an understatement of hyperbolic proportions
We had flexed our parliamentary muscle and won. We had to fight them on a few more items but not quite as hard. Even after being shouted down, due to hubris, they still tried to ram votes through but they were a bit more cautious about it. They came to realize that we knew RRO better than they did, and that we weren’t going to back down!
In the middle of all of this we had non-establishment rank-and-file Republicans coming up to us explaining that they were glad we were putting a foot in the door of the establishment. One guy said “they’ve been doing this to us for decades, and now you are able to stop them”. Apparently this area is known for rubber-stamping the establishment’s will and they mistakenly thought they could get away with it again this year.
Ultimately it is important that the establishment be made aware that we WILL fight these unfair rules and will not allow these types of exclusive advantages to stand. That hard lesson was taught to them yesterday and it can be assured that they will not be forgetting it any time soon. We broke up their little fiefdom and made it so that they were not the exclusive arbiters of power within the Party anymore. This is how we reform the Republican Party from within, the goal being to move it towards a more limited-government direction.
Regarding the actual results of how many Ron Paul supporters became delegates, sorry to disappoint but I am not going to post the results of the convention, or any other convention I’ve been involved with in Minnesota. Only a small handful of individuals know the real numbers, and that is a closely guarded secret because we don’t want the establishment to be able to plan for us
Here is a video I recorded of the most contentious part of the Convention as described above. Notice how a guy tries to get me removed from the room: