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Saturday, April 28, 2007
Utah County Republican Convention: During

Miscellaneous notes and the fate of the opposition to "Satan's Plan" -- which is their term for illegal immigration, not mine.

The general session of the Utah County Republican Party 2007 Organizing Convention started a little late and ended less than an hour late. I as a delegate feel that relatively few of my minutes were wasted, which is saying something about a meeting. Here are some scattered observations, followed by -- cue the brimstone -- Satan's Plan.

These things begin on a solemn note. Republicans take the Pledge of Allegiance, the flag, and our national anthem very seriously. Miss Provo, Erika Richards, sang the national anthem beautifully in two languages at once (English and ASL), but nobody applauded immediately after she finished. After the Pledge, which followed her singing, we applauded her generously. First things first.

Then there were motions and nominations and speeches and explanations and votes and reports and more speeches, short and long, with more than enough applause lines. All have their place, and they were all handled with reasonable dispatch. A few notes:

  • State Senator Curt Bramble chaired the meeting and also gave a speech. He is a competent, graceful chair and a very good speaker.
  • Lt. Governor Gary Herbert spoke; he is always engaging when he has a good story, and he always seems to have a good story.
  • A relative unknown,  (Party) Constitution Chair LauraLyn Eberling offered a report on a little controversy which had arisen; her report was admirable in its clarity and precision, among other virtues. (Maybe she could take a crack at the platform?)
  • Enid Greene is a dynamic, personable speaker and seems capable of sound reasoning. But when she promises only two more minutes, she ought sit down after two more minutes, or at least three.
  • Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff gives a passionate, effective speech. When there were spare minutes later, he was summoned back to the podium for an encore.
  • The County Party seems to be still on a bit of a political high after Vice President Cheney's visit this week.
  • Brian Thompson started his audit report, of all things, with the words, "It's my pleasure to present . . ." It's nice to see someone enjoying his work -- and better him than me.
  • It seems odd that Congressman Chris Cannon didn't get applause when he said chocolate is both the food of the gods and a nutritional supplement. He got applause for other things.
  • Some minor platform changes were adopted. It was not the time or the setting for my discontents about the platform, and the specific changes proposed were actual improvements, so I voted aye.

Now, about Satan's Plan . . .

One of the incumbent Central Committee members, a precinct chair from . . . wherever . . . thinks that the influx of illegal aliens (along with big business and several other familiar far-right bogeymen) are a major component of Satan's plan to overthrow the United States, or at least destroy our freedom. His resolution says something about us becoming a third-world country, and his little convention speech said the illegals, if they ever become legal, will vote Democratic, and the Democrats will get control of everything. And if the Democrats ever get control, as everyone knows, all is lost. Or something like that.

I hoped to speak for a minute or two myself in opposition to this tasteless and inappropriate resolution, but was not called upon. One or two others did so, more or less adequately. I'll say more about this resolution and the general subject of zealots who damage their own cause here at the blog sometime very soon.

By that point in the day, we were slightly short of the required quorum (70 percent) of credentialed delegates. Therefore no vote was possible on the resolution itself or on a motion to suspend the rules forbidding amendment, in order to make the resolution more palatable. Some wanted to save the part about rule of law and protecting our borders from illegal immigration, and jettison the ridiculous portions; I could have voted for that.

Had there been a vote on the resolution as proposed, I don't think it would have passed. There were only about 27 candidates for 20 Central Committee seats. Mr. Sponsor was an incumbent . . . but he managed to lose anyway.

Maybe there's hope.

Mark Steele of American Fork comments (4/30/07):

David, thanks for your succinct but thorough review of the convention. Could I add a few things:

  • I thought it was interesting how a demand for the resignation of the county chair and secretary because they'd used the county party name in their campaign literature return address, implying endorsement, was defused. Turns out it was the printer's mistake, and they even brought Mr. Alexander to the podium to offer his mea culpa. That made the accuser look very foolish -- too bad he hadn't taken five minutes to find out what had really happened.
  • Ms. Eberling was clear and engaging, not an easy thing to do when explaining a nuance of party bylaws. Any elected position here she could run for?
  • I wondered why Sen. Bramble insisted on doing the whole debate thing on Satan's Plan, refusing to call for a quorum count until we'd consumed 15 minutes or so discussing the benighted resolution. I blame Sen. Bramble for any bad press we got on the resolution in Sunday's papers, since he could have short circuited the entire sordid discussion by determining we didn't have a quorum.

Speaking of sordid discussions: a large number of delegates feel their primary responsibility at the organizing convention is to do housekeeping on our county party rules and platform and vote in the next set of officers. Not debate some random person's political, and often left field itch-scratching. This is why in the ten years since they moved resolutions to the end of the day, there's never a quorum left. It may be time to jettison resolutions entirely from the convention agenda.

David Rodeback replies (5/1/07):

It would be interesting to ask Sen. Bramble your question. I wonder if he -- or party leadership -- was worried what would happened if they suppressed the baloney. Or maybe he was in favor of it, but I'm hoping he's too smart for that.

Mark Steele comments (5/1/07):

My guess was that he was honoring Don Larson for his long work for the Republican Party, regardless of the merits of the resolution. I think it would be good of me to ask Curtis directly, now that I've broached the subject on your blog.

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