I did a little record keeping over the last week or so before the LG race took front and center stage. Keenly interested in the reasons given on social media why some don’t like party registration, I made a spread sheet. Here are my top ten reasons.
(1) The state wants to know my business.
Wrong. They already know how you vote. Look at any list on any voting program and a column on the right shows your primary history. Every candidate in the last decade who woke up one morning and thought he should be a senator, and hired the cheapest kid he could find to work his campaign, has a copy of your voting record. Not only that, but these kids who are never vetted turn around and sell your information to a myriad of interested parties and to whoever will buy it after the campaign folds. They sell to anyone from real estate companies to mail houses, and even to churches. I promise your local registrar is not plotting to know you business (they have a voting list, too) and will give you a simple form that he/she then enters into the computer. They could care less how you vote and are not allowed to ask. Get over yourself.
(2) This will be the end of conventions.
If you let that happen, shame on you. The base needs a good gathering every now and again to fire it up. Most everybody goes home feeling like they got their money’s worth dancing around the fire at this pagan festival, also known as a convention. Just like the one shown above in 2009, we need a love-fest just like the one which nominated McDonnell, Bolling, and Cuccinelli, where our hearts swelled with pride when the Cooch entered with his Gadsden flags. While this is often used as an example of how conventions work to successfully elect candidates in the general election, it is, in fact, not an example at all. This convention was the result, and the last one to my knowledge, of strategic planning by SCC to fit the particular scenario of 2009. A huge majority of conservatives were already united behind Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling. If you work to elect members of SCC who have no reason to argue about the method of nomination for five straight years and are willing to strategize and compromise, it will not be the end of conventions. Operative word, WORK. Besides, “convention groupies” will still have plenty of those to raise hell at. District Conventions and those to elect RPV Chairman will always be necessary and can satisfy that fix.
(3) Conventions save the tax payer money.
Wrong. Primaries are budgeted for every year by the state, whether they happen or not. If conventions are held, the money is not returned but appropriated elsewhere in the electoral board’s budget. In Caroline, we normally get badly needed new equipment. If you don’t like this, lobby to change the entire state budget process at the General Assembly level. Everyone has learned that, if you give back money, your budget is cut the following year. One of the best posts I saw on Facebook this week was from someone who understands the real world and does not repeat stupid information. “More money is spent on toilet paper at rest stops on I-95 in Virginia than on primaries every year.”
(4) Conventions make money.
Wrong. Conventions are a huge hole that the Republican Party of Virginia flushes money down each and every time they happen. About two thirds of the people who sign up for conventions normally attend, but the party must pay the venue and the materials for each and every one of them. Had McDonnell’s team not come up with the funds for the 2009 convention, we would still be paying it off. Convention attendance since 2009 has steadily declined.
(5) Consultants hate conventions and are prevented from making money off candidates.
Wrong. When leaving a convention, take a look over your shoulder at the twelve-inch-deep pile of literature on the floor of the venue and ask yourself the cost, in addition to what you got in the mail as a delegate before the convention. If you get behind a fleet of busses from candidate X, ask yourself how much that cost, and the free snacks or lunch he provided as well. Caroline has hosted two major district conventions, and it took us longer than two weeks to clean up the mess made in people’s yards, the median strips, and in the school where it was held, due to the number of signs and collateral.
(6) Conventions are just better.
Wrong. Conventions are only as good as the committee or group running each aspect of the overall event and are subject every five minutes to interpretation. Conventions take up endless resources for months, gathering delegates and fostering infighting resulting in a fraction of those hard fought-for delegates even showing up. Except for 2009, in the last several decades, at least one or more groups of attendees has left a convention feeling they were treated more than badly. This does not include our military, disabled, or elderly Republican voters who were unable to attend at all.
(7) Conventions give us better candidates.
Wrong. Seriously, just about anyone with a cell phone, a free bus ride offer, and free lunch can manipulate conventions which is why candidates and their consultants, who can never win a general election, love them. Who doesn’t love E.W. Jackson? That guy did not need a free anything. He had a real message going on long before Donald Trump walked out on a campaign stage. E.W. fired up that base like nobody’s business. The base alone, unfortunately, does not win elections in Virginia.
(8) People won’t register as Republican.
In other states this has never ever been a problem and works remarkably well. While we activists stay awake at night trying to figure out if our rights have been violated, regular people who have lives will be okay with registering as Republicans. They made their voices heard loud and clear in Caroline for sure and are the same people who proudly displayed signs for Trump and who offered me a thousand dollars for a 4×4 sign to make sure everyone knew how their vote was cast. Thousands of people mustered some pride, grew a backbone, and were not afraid to make it clear they voted Republican. It’s okay to do the same. No one will take away your birthday.
(9) Good candidates will hesitate to run.
Not kidding … I found this one on social media as well. Wrong. Candidates who won’t be afraid to bring a conservative message and stick to their guns when elected WILL run. They will be the bold sort with fire in the belly who will be willing to do the work it takes to reach people in a general election as well. They won’t rely on one day at a convention to sway a handful of Virginia voters to their cause. It will also clean out the General Assembly in 2-4 years of most of those squishy Republicans you all complain about because their base won’t be there anymore to nominate them in primaries. Your new candidates can then put foot in the path and take their case to the people and get elected the old fashioned way without compromising our principles.
(10) Senator Obenshain is carrying the bill so it’s establishment and “bad,” and he is only doing this because he can only win a primary.
I saved this, the most stupid, for last. Are you freaking kidding me? Mark Obenshain is a convention warrior and guru. Ask anyone who has ever seen him work for delegates and campaign for office. That man can win any type of nomination. My guess is he has had enough and is appalled at the legacy Virginia Republicans are creating for themselves and the waste of resources and decided to get the ball rolling.
See companion post, Make Virginia Win Again .