“Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness.”
I had the opportunity to attend the Iowa State GOP convention as a delegate last weekend, June 15th and 16th respectively. It was definitely an interesting convention, and I had a fantastic time. I had been prepared to be bored, and it certainly wasn’t so much boring as tedious; it took much longer than any other delegation to accomplish what should have been routine. Attempts at rule changes, a bit of deception, and an altercation at the District reconvene are not national news, but definitely worth discussing.
District 2 reconvened on Friday night. We started credentialing around 6 PM, and the call to order was at 8 P.M. Things started off smoothly enough, but we hit a snag with credentials and seating alternates. Unfortunately, this took a large chunk of time, with other districts voting already and we hadn’t even seated the entire delegation. When that was finally over, we moved on to the next order of business: nominating national delegates from the floor. I believe ten people were nominated. Nominees were allowed to speak on their behalf (for several minutes each), and the time to vote rolled around….and that’s when the real trouble started.
The chair and the parliamentarian were unclear as to whether the rules stated that candidates needed a majority vote or a plurality to take delegate spots. A suspension of rules was attempted to give the positions to the highest “vote getters”, and was not carried. This happened several times, actually. To give the positions to those with the most votes would constitute receiving a plurality of votes.
Now, personally, I prefer a plurality for three reasons: it was the system that we used at our district convention (and this was a reconvene); we are a Republic, not a democracy, and therefore we do not vote by majority rule in most elections, and it is a system that rewards those who actually receive the votes. Unfortunately, we were stuck voting for a majority. And….no one received a majority on the first ballot. So we went to a second ballot. And so on. In all, I lost count of the amount of ballots that we cast….but it definitely took a significant amount of time. Finally, we elected three national delegates: Ani DeGroot, Bob Anderson, and Ed Keleyni. Two of those are Paul supporters, and the other was behind the “Unity Slate”…more on that in a later post.
It was time to elect alternates, and it was decided that their speeches would be limited to one minute as to move things along. At this point, we had already been there far longer than we should have, and it was getting very late. Jeff Shipley, a member of our State Central Committee, was nominated as an alternate. When it came time for Jeff to speak, he wasn’t very far in when our chair, Walter Conlon, cut him off. As others started to speak, we could see off to the side that Conlon and Shipley were having words. I heard Conlon say, “Do you want to speak some more?” and Jeff walked away.
Shipley, left, greets Congressman Steve King at the Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner (photo from Iowa GOP Facebook)
Now, Shipley did go over his time, but he should have been allowed to finish up, rather than having to squeeze in his final comment while being hushed and rudely told, “Time.” Other speakers went over time and were not censured. After the speeches were finished, Shipley walked up to speak to the chair. What happened next was entirely inappropriate and out of line…Conlon told Shipley to “take a hike” and SHOVED him. The video speaks for itself:
I don’t care if you are angry. I don’t care if it’s late. It is never appropriate for an adult to put their hands on another adult…that is called “assault”. It was entirely unnecessary and very inappropriate for our chair to do so, and while he did apologize, it was forced. Several times, people tried to introduce motions to remove Conlon, but it was late and at this point, and most of us were just ready to leave. The motion was withdrawn.
Conlon knew that he screwed up. It was evident in his tone. His only answer to the reason he pushed Shipley was that he confronted him. At that point, he approached the podium and told the delegation that he pushed Shipley and that he apologized, which was the honorable thing to do, and frankly, helped him to continue in the position as chair.
We moved on to elector nominations, and once again had the issue of plurality vs. majority come up. I moved to suspend the rules to elect Sen. Mark Chelgren, because it was almost 12:30 A.M. and we had to be back at 7:45 A.M. to start credentialing in the morning. (and Chelgren was the best man for the job; I can’t forget to mention that.)
I have to commend both Conlon and Shipley for settling their differences, but it was certainly not well done of the chair to resort to violence and frankly, to throw a temper tantrum in front of the district delegation. It certainly doesn’t encourage young people to join the party when they see the chair overstep his bounds and his duty to stay unbiased because he doesn’t like a person or doesn’t agree with their stance. Unfortunately, Shipley was not elected as an alternate delegate, losing by one vote, I believe. Shipley definitely showed depth of character and integrity by taking the situation in stride, even though he had every right to demand that the chair be removed.
Despite the altercation and credentialing issues, District 2 did manage to elect their national delegates, alternates, and the elector. In all, district reconvenes allotted Ron Paul supporters 11 of 12 national delegate spots, with the exception of Bob Anderson, also of District 2, who attempted to submit a “Unity Slate” (and will be partially the subject of my next post.) We adjourned at 12:30 A.M. and headed back to our beds to prepare for the state convention in the morning, knowing that we had completed our work at the district level.
“The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave.”