Monday, June 9, 2008

Notes From a Convention (Butler Shaffer)

Butler Shaffer observes the shenanigans of the Minnesota Republican State Convention:

It had been forty-four years since I last attended a political convention. I was part of my state’s delegation to the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco, an experience that helped push me over the threshold in my abandonment of political action. But last week I found myself headed to Rochester to sit in – as an observer – on the Minnesota Republican State Convention. My Minnesota daughter and her husband have been very active Ron Paul supporters, with her husband serving as a delegate to this convention. Perhaps for the same reason that leads people to visit the site of a train-wreck, I decided to attend.

My initial impression of this convention was that the atmosphere was so unlike those in which I had participated decades before. It was not that the Ron Paul delegates were outvoted by the McCain supporters: that’s just part of the convention process as it was, in 1964, when we Goldwater supporters greatly outnumbered the competing Bill Scranton contingent. But there was a civility and respect for procedural regularities that governed earlier conventions, unlike what I witnessed in Rochester last week. The contrast could be stated, metaphorically, as the difference between eating in a French restaurant and a twenty-four hour truck stop.

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