”. . . , the necessary things, the ones that matter the most, are always hard. If not, then they wouldn’t be worth the effort!” Leonard Griffith, Olmsted County GOP Treasurer and county caucus delegate.
We got a live look today at how real grass roots politics is conducted in Olmsted County, Minnesota Saturday. In the rural town of Byron, west of Rochester, the county GOP met to elect delegates to the district and state conventions, hear their local politicians speak and to vote on party resolutions and planks. The county is one in three steps leading to the state Caucus which takes place in May.
In a day long exercise in frustration at Byron Middle School, delegates argued over minutia language in resolutions meant to be the party plank and tempers flared as other delegates new to the process complained that the day’s business was taking too long. Forty resolutions produced in the statewide caucus held last month were presented for a vote, many of which were voted on and approved by ballot. A few left-overs and new proposals too controversial to get the required two-thirds vote were discussed in a committee of the whole. Only half of those were voted on and the rest tabled as the end of the day drew near. Those will be held over and presented at the district and state level meetings as time permits.
The most frustrating of the day’s business was the election of delegates to the district convention that takes place in April and state delegates to the state convention coming up May 18. Libertarians and Ron Paul supporters figured prominently in this process as they attempted to elect many of their delegates who were nominated from the floor. The list of approved candidates came from a green sheet of paper issued by Alan Quist, a Republican House Candidate who will oppose Representative Tim Walz in November.
The nomination committee, a board of four at the county level, presented ballots for all of the associated districts of Olmsted County with pre-printed names approved by the party and nominated beforehand. The ballots also included blanks where other members nominated from the floor for the separate districts could be included. Well within their rights to do so according to party rules, Libertarians in the party blitzkreiged the ballot box and nominated their own delegates in attempt to increase their voting power at the district and state levels. The reasoning, as far as I can tell, is that the disregarded and disenfranchised Libertarians feel that the only way to usurp the establishment GOP and what they feel are out of touch politicians is to fill the delegation to the state caucus with people who will declare themselves for Ron Paul and no other candidate.
This blatant move angered some delegates who felt that party members of longstanding proven service should be given preference over Johnny-come-latelys. The focus, they feel, is to elect delegates that will support the party as a whole and not any one candidate do or die.
Squabbling over who will go to the next level caucus and the language of this or that resolution took a long time to sort out and at the end of the day, the business wasn’t fully concluded as we ran out of time. I can only surmise that some went away frustrated with the process, not fully comprehending what exactly happened.
My own frustration lay in that I was only elected as an alternate delegate rather than a fully seated delegate at the district. Not to fear, however. I’m sure there will be a lot of frustrated people elected as delegates who will for some reason or other will decide not to show up, allowing me and some of the rest of the committed alternates to be fully seated.
I remarked to a fellow delegate that with all the squabbling and infighting amongst Republicans, people who should for the most part share the same ideals of small, accountable government, freedom, low taxes, low government regulation and interference and entrepreneurship and rugged individualism, if we who agree on all that can be so painfully divided then how can members of the same congress or the executive branch get along enough to conduct the nation’s business as they come from different parties and vastly different worldviews?
My father, also a delegate for the day’s business from the small town of Stewartville, always comments to me, “son, the necessary things, the ones that matter the most, are always hard. If not, then they wouldn’t be worth the effort!” He’s right of course, and while today’s business was nosebleed hard, and blood shooting out of my eyeballs exasperating, was still very necessary and important. Our candidates have to get on the ballot somehow, and this is the grassroots level process to see that the best candidates are pushed forward.
The frustration experienced at the caucus was not the fault of the salty old dogs running the show or their process. In fact, as far as the way the business was conducted, I thought that it was very translucent, fair and smooth. Delegates elected from the last caucus showed up and were for the most part pre-registered on the Internet or snail mail. When they arrived, they were met by workers armed with laptop computers with lists of the names of those pre-registered. After being properly received and credentialed, the delegates were seated. Those who were not pre-registered paid their dues at the door and were seated without a fuss.
Lunch was excellent and took place in the school gymnasium. Coffee and donuts were sold for a dollar at the door. Tellers were well-equipped and trained and used their technology to tally votes and display via the big screen at the front of the room. The results of the votes were revealed in real time. Seating was well marked with clear signage and it was easy to find your seat. I found mine in the front row center, Rochester Ward One, Precinct Two. Four of us showed up, filling out our coalition, two conservatives and two libertarians. I counted votes and shared the results with my fellow delegates who double checked my work. Easy cheesy.
All in all, the Olmsted County GOP executed a very complicated process and made it look very easy and smooth. We the delegates made the day frustrating with our attempts to muddy the water with our pet project resolutions and our petty arguments about who has priority over whom to be a delegate to the next level. This level of organizations is a credit to GOP Chairman Bruce Kaskubar and his team of salty dog Republicans, many of whom are current and former state representatives and senators. Those include County Co-Chair Bill Kuisle, and former Representative Fran Bradley who MC’d the event, just to name a few. A local M.D. who attended a special course to become acquainted with Rogers Rules played the role as our parliamentarian and did a great job as far as I was concerned. I only regret I didn’t learn his name.
My dad continued with my civics lesson as I watched him conduct himself as both a delegate and as treasurer for the county GOP. I was so proud of him today. It was a pleasure to watch him in action.
Today’s business was hard, but not as hard as winning our freedom at this country’s founding or keeping it when the wolves of the world continually knock at the door. I hope that my fellow delegates in time see that, if they don’t already, and I hope they continue to plough through the rough ground to the ultimate goal, unseating a haughty Obama administration and the bevy of crony capitalists and lefty loons, replacing them with rock-ribbed conservative and libertarian leaders. I share this information with you dear reader, not to bore you with the inner workings of Olmsted County, but to remind you that similar battles of will are going on in your own communities right now, probably without your knowledge. I suggest if you don’t like the candidates presented to you at the state or federal level, then it’s your own damn fault for missing the necessary, hard, but worthwhile grassroots political process. You only have yourselves to blame, so please, stop complaining and get involved.
That’s all I ask.