By Melissa Kenney
[Originally published at Bearing Drift; republished with permission]
Yes, you read that right.
I rarely write on Bearing Drift because I have better things to do with my life. Yet so visceral is my hatred of most conventions that I have come out of hibernation to make the time to talk about it. But you know what I don’t have time for? Conventions.
In fact, I think the last time I wrote on Bearing Drift was about the RPV “guest/user fee” implemented in 2013 which was a $25 charge per-extra-person (including each and every kid brought along) to participate — but not vote — at the 2013 convention. Thankfully, last year’s dashing Executive Director, ahem, had the wisdom to rid our Commonwealth of such a scourge, but I have no confidence that it will not be resurrected this year if SCC votes for a convention. Given the proposed high-dollar costs for candidates to participate — which will likely depress participation from the 2016 contenders — I would bet you a gallon of milk, or 50, that the guest/user fee will reappear because conventions are seen as “moneymakers”.
Mr. Kenney posits that, “No one benefits more or less in a convention. It’s just different.” This is utter nonsense. Conventions are, implicitly or explicitly, exclusionary.
They exclude families. It is excessively burdensome to ask families to travel a day (or more depending on location) and spend all day long in a giant room full of loud people just to cast a vote. I’m sure all the naysayers will argue that, if families can just “find a way” if they are passionate enough. I say “no way”. I can either waste a day and many dollars to cast a vote during an excruciatingly long, overpriced convention, or I can drive my car-full of kids to the polling station and get each of them their “I voted” stickers, and be done in 30 minutes. It is not a badge of honor to suffer for hours at a convention to prove that I’m more Republican than someone else. This is a badge of honor.
You know who else gets excluded? Elderly, for whom travel and costs is also taxing (see what I did there?) How about the Armed Forces? You know, the folks who fight and die for our country should have the opportunity to have a say in who they want as their nominee to be the next Commander-in-Chief. What about college students, that coveted, all-important, 18-24 crowd? If we have a convention in early March, that falls right in line with spring break, when kids take trips or volunteer. Do you think they’ll really choose instead to spend an entire Saturday and alter their spring break plans just to sit around to cast a vote at a convention? Me neither.
Then there is the weather factor. If you know anything about me, I am a weather junkie. I can tell you most assuredly (from reading my old Facebook posts) that for the past several years, we have had some of our heaviest snowfalls in early March — and one even falling later in the month on St. Patrick’s Day two years ago. The earliest we can hold a convention or primary is March 1. Think of the utter chaos that will ensue if we get hit with a major snowstorm on or around Convention Day, or even just very bitter cold. Inclement weather will certainly be a deterrent for those Virginians or candidates who have to travel to attend a long, drawn out convention — but not as much so for those who merely have to make a short trip to a vote in a primary. Not cool.
This is a presidential election. We get one chance every four years to elect a president. Virginia is the most prestigious of all the states and we should be leading by example, not selecting a method of nomination that is practically obsolete at this level. I wager that most 2016 candidates will decide to skip Virginia because of the arduous process they will have to endure to find and recruit delegates to the convention in every locality (and over a Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years time frame) which is even more difficult than collecting a large number of petition signatures. Virginia will be even more marginalized in the long run.
Yes, there is a risk of Democrats and Independents and so forth voting in our primary. You know what? I would rather risk the chance of “non-Republican contagion” than risk alienating our pro-Republican families, elderly, Armed Forces, college students, and others for whom convention participation is difficult, if not impossible. Until we get closed primaries (on that, Mr. Kenney is decidedly right), 2016 should not be a convention.
So there it is. My US$0.02 FWIW. Primary or bust.
Oh, and Happy Father’s Day.
Melissa Kenney is married to Bearing Drift writer Shaun Kenney. They and their seven children live at Kenney Manor in the Center of the Universe aka Kents Store, Virginia. A graduate of the University of Virginia, the Massachusetts native and homeschool mom enjoys raising a variety of garden crops and farm animals, writes in her spare time, and is a full-time weather junkie.