Brewer: 2016 RPV Convention – “Overwhelming”
One word comes to mind about attending my first RPV State Convention: OVERWHELMING. Since getting more involved in my local unit committee in Suffolk in 2013, learning the functions and processes of how each level of the party works has been quite an adventure. If there was a Cliff’s Note version for sale, I would have certainly bought it by now (BD Note: we’re actually working on one).
1) Emails. I have received no less than 25 emails in the days leading up to the Convention from Candidates, those endorsing candidates and others giving their personal opinions against candidates. I think this is absolute overkill. I didn’t sign up to be a delegate to the State Convention to get more spam than Groupon. Send me an email, tell me your stances and endorsements, and I can figure the rest out
2) Mailers. Got plenty of those too! It was very interesting to compare the most competitive race, which I deemed to be the National Committeewoman. One piece listed a job resume non-specific to Virginia (Dunbar), while another listed specific accomplishments in the Republican Party of Virginia. I didn’t run for Chairman my first year in the Party or anything, because I think to be a leader, you have to learn the people first of your locality or state, but hey, what do I know?
Convention Day Thoughts
When I first arrived, the check in process was smooth and I found our seating area pretty quickly. Right off the bat, I was a bit irritated with bleacher seating. We had several elderly attendees in delegations near us, and I made sure to help them up and down the stairs. While I did notice handicap accessible areas were available, that area just seemed like a “timeout” you would give to a youngster; no one wants to sit alone, so many folks braved the steps in order to sit with their friends and family.
Once the voting process was underway, we swiftly moved forward in confirming John Whitbeck to re-election and I was glad to see we were on a roll, because I was certainly hoping to be home before midnight. (Which didn’t happen).
But as the day rolled-on, I began to consider the convention with the following thoughts in mind:
1) I was HANGRY. If you don’t know what that is, Google It. I went in thinking I would be done by dinner, and I left after having a crappy stadium hot dog and pretzel. I DID commit to spending the day with fellow Republicans, but starting earlier would have been better. (Or moving at a quicker pace!)
2) The voting process takes WAY too long, and border-lined on stalling towards the end. I still cannot for the life of me understand why we couldn’t print ballots for those running for national delegate. That would’ve seemed fair.
3) SLATING. Since I read a lot of comments and arguments online about local politics, I’m not a huge fan of the process. When we came around to voting I defer to a quote from Shaun Kenney, “Folks, slating is evil — we’re not talking Dr. Evil, or Dr. Strangelove, or even the Dallas Cowboys. We’re talking pure, straight-up, un-American, our-Founding-Fathers-didn’t-fight-a-costly-and-bloody-revolution-for-this sort of evil. It’s unethical, it’s wrong, it’s stupid.”
4) Towards the end of the Convention, I really felt like my presence and vote didn’t matter. It seemed like the national delegate selection process and choice was made for me, without my consent. When I voted for National Committeeman & Committeewoman, I felt like I had a voice, and the slate took my voice and voting opportunity away.
There is work to be done on streamlining the flow so we can bring more people into the Party. I ponder how many other first-timers may not return because of the length of the process. It is my sincere hope that those that showed up to vote on Saturday continually commit to working hard to elect a Republican President in November, regardless of the nominee.
Joey Brewer is from Suffolk, Virginia. He serves as Vice Chair of the Western Tidewater Young Republicans.