A Lousy Job, but Someone….
The morning sun glistened through the small clump of palms, twinkling just enough light on the pool to make the surface of the clear blue water light up the outdoor breakfast nook.
While I pondered the early morning and enjoyed the quiet, I thought about my mission – scout out events and activities in Tampa for the upcoming Republican National Convention.
Advance work is an interesting job: spending time enjoying sights, participating in various activities and being immersed in the warm Florida lifestyle. But somebody has got to endure these trials and tribulations for the greater good of Maryland's upcoming GOP delegation. So, I soldier on suffering for several weeks in the tropical warmth of October in a beach town suburb of Tampa.
In just 10 short months Maryland's delegation will travel south to this location for their Republican National Convention to nominate the party's nominee, a ritual both major parties have practiced for over 100 years. However, a century ago the 1912 Chicago GOP convention was quite different.
It was the first cycle ever for primary elections. Twelve bold states held primary elections, allowing the voter to choose the delegates to the convention, a shift in the good 'ole boy establishment thinking. Former President Theodore Roosevelt won nine of those 12 state primaries. All other states were still nominating delegates by state convention where President Roosevelt did not fare well, gaining only 10 percent of those available delegates.
The votes cast at the national convention actually select the nominee. Our conventions operate just like our government. We are a republic and elect representatives who make decisions and cast votes on our behalf. At a national convention the party nominee is not the only decision that is made; developing the party's platform for the next four years and the rules of party organization are also major issues delegates will debate in committee – then rubber stamp as an entire body.
In Maryland we elect 24 delegates (three from each congressional district) and 24 alternate delegates from the public ballot and another 10 delegates and 10 alternate delegates from the Maryland GOP convention, which will be held in April 2012 soon after Maryland's primary date.
The national convention of 1912 was President Howard Taft's to win. The GOP was then ripped apart causing the loss of the 1912 election to President Woodrow Wilson. History was made in 1912 by the fact that President Roosevelt led the only third party ever to place second in a major election. His Bull Moose Party bested the Taft establishment GOP. Democrat Wilson ended up as a two-term president as the GOP healed its internal wounds and got its act together for 1920 and beyond.
There will be a lot of whining as primary season continues. Fingers will be pointed about various candidates and all candidates not polling in first place will have their minions, who are in the trenches, railing against the "establishment" candidate and how the fix is in. Bottom line is the winner will be decided by the voting public of the early states ... like it or not.
I have never witnessed a "fix," or know of anyone who has hosted a "smoke-filled room" to decide a nominee. I have seen deals made by hard working activists looking to heal primary wounds caused by close losses. I have watched well-funded, smart campaigns over-shadow a seemingly populist candidate, who is armed with boisterous ideas but lacking organization and funding.
Modern day GOP conventions are not contentious. The presumed nominees are decided via state primaries many months prior to convention time. The conventions are scripted to the minute – right down to what time the conventioneers hold up which signage. The conventions are in part four day infomercials watched mostly by political junkies and random persons too bored to change the channel. They have become orchestrated, made for TV events.
So, regardless of the eventual nominee, the GOP faithful will arrive in the Tampa area the week of August 27, 2012, to perform the quadrennial ritual to officiate the presidential nomination. Maryland's delegation will be about 150 people, counting guests and families who are in-tow, all looking for activity outside the convention hall.
My task is simple – check out the area, look for interesting activities, keep costs to a minimum (after all I am a fiscal conservative) and make sure the entertainment fits around the convention sessions. I keep telling myself it's a tough job, but someone has to sacrifice for the greater good to the party.
So, I continue my mission ... eating in restaurants, visiting various tourist destinations, working on spreadsheets at the pool, chatting on the phone with vendors, all the while enjoying a morning coffee in the warm sun, watching the calm water of the canal pass by the dock of my rental home. Wish me luck as I struggle for the greater good of the 2012 Maryland GOP delegation.