The silence of the Republicans: The 2012 Virginia GOP Convention

The 2012 Virginia GOP Convention was completed in only four hours. It was a hugely unexciting success. Photo: Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va., June 18, 2012 — GOP Conventions are supposed to be exciting this year. This past month has been one (Grand Old) party after another.

Wisconsin saw a thrilling battle for the United States Senate and a rousing defense of Governor Scott Walker. North Carolina featured a protracted presidential battle when some insurgents refused to accept reality. In addition, some political heavy hitters including Donald Trump showed up.

Everything is bigger in Texas, and over 10,000 people came for a rousing three days of parties and after-parties.

Then came Virginia. Then went Virginia. A convention was held, but anyone who blinked missed it.

Governor Bob McDonnell is a popular leader who is a serious contender for the vice presidential nomination. He was not in attendance.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is a rock star and the highest ranking Jewish Republican in America. He was not there.

Media coverage could make anything more exciting, with one small caveat: The media would have to be there to cover it. The media were hardly there.

Senator George Allen is locked in a heavyweight fight with Tim Kaine to get his old Senate seat back. The party is united behind Mr. Allen, making discussion about the race among the delegates unnecessary.

Surely there would be a brutal platform fight when the people from the Planet Rapulon showed up to fight to the death.

(Let’s not call him by his name; his supporters hijack discussions not involving him and claim that his name was invoked to increase traffic. They don’t realize that their absence from discussions not connected to him is a blessing, in the same way that their non-appearances at conventions is an utter joy.)

It did not happen. The Nominating Committee decided to hold the vote for president before the convention. This got the presidential fight out of the way before delegates arrived in Richmond for convention business. The people from Rapulon stayed home.

About 2,000 people showed up, but 4,000 were expected. One party activist said that his county had 256 reservations, but that only about 40 people showed up from that group.

In a way, this is an overwhelmingly positive development. The people from the Planet Rapulon want to get their man elected, but have zero interest in party building. They freely admit to not caring about the GOP. If anything, they want to blow it up and tear it down. So their absence from a place they have zero interest in benefits the GOP by allowing those in attendance to conduct actual business in peace and quiet.

The quiet at the Virginia GOP Convention was eerie. Things were supposed to start at 10:00am and finish at 4:00pm. In convention language, that meant things would inevitably drag on until 6:00 or 7:00pm. Most of these conventions last three days, and finishing in one day does not happen.

Forget one day or even half of one day. One sixth of one day - four measly hours - was all that was needed. Business began at 10:30 a.m. and was wrapped up by 2:30 p.m. Vendors were in shock. They thought the delegates were just fleeing the room for a break before continuing with business. There was no business left. The delegates’ work was finished.

(The only hassle was when some of the few Rapulons who did attend came to my booth and insisted on arguing with me about their views. As soon as I saw their signs I should have insisted they leave, since these people are never customers. The number of potential customers I lost while these miscreants bothered me is just another reason I despise that movement. Despite dropping several hints that I was there for business, they just kept yammering away. They actually thought I enjoyed the conversation, as I silently counted the dollars lost while they blabbed. Until people go to their place of business and disrupt them, they will understand nothing.)

Next year Virginia will have another convention, and that one should be fiery. Virginia in 2013 is one of only two states to hold a gubernatorial election. There might be a Chairman’s fight. There might be … something … anything.

The one bit of interest came from a race for Governor. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are fighting to succeed Governor McDonell. Bolling has the GOP establishment backing him while Cuccinelli has the outsiders.

Yet the establishment did not show up to this convention, and neither did the outsiders. The closest thing resembling “news” is that the nominee will be chosen next year at the state convention rather than in a primary. This means activists will make the decision, rather than the overall GOP electorate. This was seen as a move engineered by Cuccinelli to benefit himself at the expense of Bolling. Yet activists can be volatile, so the maneuver could backfire.

Either way, this is all inside baseball. It excites political junkies but does not galvanize Republicans across the country. There were no fiery lunch or dinner speeches on the day of the convention because there was no lunch or dinner at all. Some delegates did gather the evening before for a dinner keynoted by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Yet even that was under the radar compared to the loud, bold announcements of the North Carolina Convention.

A critic of this convention would call it colossally boring. Yet supporters would say that boring is a fancy way of saying “getting down to business and getting things done.” While most people would prefer the excitement of a protracted floor fight with plenty of drama, most actual convention attendees want to just get the work done and get back to their families. Governing is not supposed to be sexy. It is about nuts and bolts work that can be quite tedious but remains necessary.

Virginia will be a battleground state, so perhaps it was surprising that neither Governor Mitt Romney nor his highest ranking surrogates were in attendance. Governor Haley was there the night before. One of Governor Romney’s sons was in attendance, but not in a way designed to draw attention from the business at hand.

So while outsiders may have found events humdrum, the delegates themselves had every reason to be proud of a convention that was functional, efficient, and brisk. These words do not create excitement, but the Virginia GOP did what needed to be done without wasting time. Being on time and under budget is not sexy, but it sure is a positive development that should be emulated.

From an excitement and drama standpoint, the convention was a dud. From a business standpoint, the delegates would be right to call the 2012 Virginia GOP Convention a success.


Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, blogger, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian.

Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.” Eric is 100% alcohol, tobacco, drug, and liberalism free. After years of dating liberals, he has finally seen the light and now only dates Republican Jewish women. His family is pleased over this. Republican, Jewish women, you may contact Eric above.

Follow Eric on Twitter @TYGRRRREXPRESS

Eric Golub is an independent writer for the Communities. Read more from Eric at his TYGRRRR EXPRESS blog.

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Eric Golub

Eric Golub is a politically conservative Jewish blogger, author, public speaker, and comedian. His book trilogy is “Ideological Bigotry,” “Ideological Violence,” and  “Ideological Idiocy.” 

He is Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and has lived in Los Angeles since 1990. He received his Bachelors degree from the University of Judaism, and his MBA from USC. A stockbrokerage professional since 1994, he began blogging on March 11th, 2007, the three year anniversary of the Madrid bombings and the midpoint of 9/11. He has been inflicting his world view on his unfortunate readers since then. He blogs about politics Monday through Friday, and about football and other human interest items on weekends.



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