“For if we do not determine the nature of the beast before we set it free, it will end by consuming us all.” –Judge James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence
There is a beast that lies sleeping in Staunton. Whether he will be awakened from his slumber or remain dead to the world will be answered on June 27th. The beast is one of exclusivity – of disunity – of disenfranchisement. He doesn’t sound too appealing, does he? Yet, for a very vocal wing of the Republican Party of Virginia, he is a godsend. But for the good of the Commonwealth, the Party, and common sense we cannot allow him to awaken.
The beast is called Convention. And his supporters are many. The question we must ask ourselves is, why? Why is a convention for a presidential primary even an option? Your guess is as good as mine
I have been to enough conventions to know that conventions are a nice synonym for exclusivity. There’s no way around it. If you’re at a convention, you are a die-hard – and that’s not a bad thing … usually. Let’s face it, in most local and statewide elections where conventions are used, the generic population doesn’t care too much. That all goes out the window when it comes to the Presidential election – and all the numbers and stats back that up.
Some will say that conventions are better – that they are the best way of gauging what the die-hard Virginia Republican wants. They say a convention weeds out those voters who aren’t committed to the cause. In smaller elections, many wouldn’t care either way. But again, we’re in different territory now. This is the big stage – and traipsing around the histrionic Presidential boards elicits a glaring difference in opinion. People want a voice in the big show – but they have lives, families, and jobs. They have ten minutes to pull a lever – not ten hours to be forced to travel to a convention hall, pay money to be a delegate, sit through speeches and platitudes , and finally vote – only to be made to drive all the way back home.
As a Party, we should be welcoming – not exclusive to only the seasoned activists. An activist will have time to travel to vote at a convention. The nurse working overtime does not. An activist will have time to travel to vote at a convention. The GOP-loving 88-year-old on oxygen cannot. An activist will have time to travel to vote at a convention. The Army captain fighting for our freedom overseas will not. An activist will have time to travel to vote at a convention. The single mom with two teething six-month-olds cannot. An activist will have time to travel to vote at a convention. The Seventh-Day Adventist cannot. An activist will have time to travel to vote at a convention. The man who lost everything and had to declare bankruptcy will not.
Are these people less of Republicans because they cannot make it to a convention hall? Because they can’t afford it? Of course not. But for many convention supporters, these people are considered as not being committed enough. Their reasons for not being able to attend are referred to as excuses. Advocates for a fair and inclusive primary are clueless. It should not be this way, my friends.
The Convention Beast feeds on increased disenfranchisement and stifling the influence of the Party to the masses. A primary allows for ALL Republicans (no exceptions) to have the opportunity to pull the lever, to make a choice, and to be (in their own small way) an activist. The Convention Beast would not have it this way. And please, spare me the stale line about conventions being a necessity because only “real” Republicans will vote. Remember, Reagan was not raised a Republican, and we like him just fine.
Please, Virginia RPV governing board, heed the words of Judge James Wilson.
Alex Davis was born and raised in Staunton, Va, and now resides in Radford. Active in his church and community, he currently serves as a vestry member at Grace Episcopal Church, is an assistant at Pulaski Dance Productions, and works insane hours managing the office of DeVilbiss Funeral Home in Radford. He has been involved in Virginia politics for more than 10 years and is a former chairman of the Staunton City Republican Committee and has worked closely with many elected officials including George Allen, Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, Jim Gilmore, and Chris Saxman. When not politickin’ or dancin’, you can find him pondering all things theological at his blog, ubuntu.