“You’re jumping from the frying pan and into the fire,” a friend warned. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity; I knew that the Republican National Convention (RNC) caravan wouldn’t be returning to the Twin Cities in my lifetime. I had carpe diem and volunteer. Yes, I assisted with the 2008 RNC. I thought it would be good to observe from within rather than being told or shown what to think from the perspectives of others.
Originally, I was going to be a background helper. I was planning to assist with behind the scenes stuff. A few days before the event began I received call from a RNC staff member. They wanted me for a special assignment because I had security clearance (I’d met President G.W. Bush the year before due to the 35W Bridge Collapse and didn’t punch him). I checked with my employer and used vacation time. I cancelled my support-work volunteering shifts and leapt into the center of the action.
Monday was Labor Day and the convention was on hiatus due to a hurricane striking Louisiana (Mmm, wrath of a higher power?) There was a whirlwind of gossip swirling around Bristol Palin’s teenage pregnancy. Bristol had the proverbial “baby bump” so there was no way that they could have disguised the expecting life form. I had the opportunity to just sit and watch. I met most of the people who were highlighted on television. Professional politicians have to be cordial; it’s a part of their charm.
Tuesday and Wednesday were busier. We assisted with events but spent a lot of time waiting. I was dissatisfied in how the RNC treated its volunteers. Most of the time we were served cheap food and no beverages. They didn’t invite us to any event outside of our shift or even keep us informed as to our schedule. We received very little training as to what we were to do or not do besides not drinking alcohol during our shift. They really could have used a professional Manager of Volunteer Resources to tend to the inner-ring of unpaid staff (us).
Thursday, endorsement day, was the most exciting. Lots of energy and action. Stress level was high because some members of the media were aggressively seeking stories and a photo of Bristol. Security was impressive. I will not provide details about this but suffice it to say that only a fool would attack a national convention. They were concerned about anarchists and people who meant us harm. I experienced a few minutes of panic when there was a riot on a bridge in St. Paul. I didn’t want to get hurt or die while volunteering.
We ventured to the St. Paul Rivercentre for the Convention and were permitted to go inside. Unfortunately, we didn’t get passes to visit the convention itself, which was second-rate. I would have liked to been in the epicenter of the action and why we were there. I observed a lot of celebrities and media folks rushing around. The media was especially exhausted after covering the Democratic National Convention the week before. I too was fatigued by the end of the four days. I had to take Friday off from work to recover. It was definitely an out of the ordinary experience.
A few weeks later we were invited to a volunteer appreciation night. Not impressed. Too many people in a small space. It would have been nice to have a special party for the inner-circle folks. I met some fascinating people but didn’t procure their contact information. The Democratic National Convention will roll into the Twin Cities, hopefully in 2016 or 2020. I want to volunteer for them too. I’d be cool to be in the inner-circle and compare notes.
A national political convention has two parallel organizers, the central party committee and the candidate’s campaign. The Committee is the “river” it flows through time. The candidate is the “boat” it jumps in for a while and either gets empowered by a win or beached by a loss. When the candidate wins they gain a larger boat but the Committee Leadership is the ultimate authority as to where the political river flows.
The Committee staffers were professional. They had been through large events before and weren’t flummoxed by challenges. Whereas, the Convention-Candidate McCain staffers were mostly young and inexperienced. They were vitriolic and negative towards every action by the Obama team. They even mocked Obama’s compassion for Bristol. That was profoundly inappropriate. I presume the democrats can be just as vicious but it caustic, unprofessional, and destroys the memory of such greats as Hubert H. Humphrey. He would be ashamed of that behavior.
It was apparent by Wednesday of the RNC that the Committee was unhappy with McCain’s choice for Vice President. They were grumbling about Sarah Palin and I even overheard someone whisper, “We’ve lost it already.” I don’t blame Palin, she and her entourage were overwhelmed by the glamour of the RNC. McCain and his advisors just chose someone who wasn’t ready. Her post-campaign behavior proves that she may have never been a good fit. It was extremely immature to resign from her responsibilities as Alaska’s Governor to grab money in the national spotlight. I’d like to view the movie made about the campaign and see if it matches what I observed.
I am a social liberal and fiscal moderate; thus, politically unaffiliated. I am disgusted by the polarizing elements of both parties. They used to welcome moderates but now the zealots persecute the middle of the road (aka the majority of Americans). My hopes for a viable moderate third-option party have been thwarted. Our society suffers due to the Committees who strangle progress. They can’t see that the proverbial forest for the trees as they strangle us with their political kudzu that favors the wealthiest 1% and big corporations.
Note: Kudzu is a beautiful plant but it tends to destroy all surrounding plants as it seeks the light.
Vote November 6th!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing