I have now been involved in my local Republican party long enough to have attended my second state convention. Before each one, I have asked myself, "Does this serve any purpose or is it just a waste of time?" Once again, I have decided that although there is a great deal of time wasted during the convention, it is worthwhile for serious people to attend and to provide their input.
This year is not a national election year; so, instead of hearing candidates' speeches, one of the primary jobs of this year's convention was to choose party officers, including chairman and vice chairman for the state party. Last year I had no idea who these people were. By this year, I had enough data to know who I definitely did not want running my state party and voted accordingly. The vote was so close - a difference of fewer than 10 out of a 1000 - that I felt my vote made a difference. Most amusing to me was the assiduous attention I received before the vote from one of the candidates who had always been rude and abrupt with me in previous dealings.
This year I was prepared for the fact that the delegates seem to treat the party platform as a matter of small concern. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to see the handiwork of a Libertarian colleague on the platform committee, removing some of the more noxious sentences from last year's platform. The improved platform passed with little fight. The Convention always (2/2) seems to be much more concerned about resolutions than the platform. Resolution debates always seem to suggest undercurrents of discontent and suspicion in the party. There are always groups who feel their voice is squelched by the leadership. Probably there is some truth in this. When you administer, you generally focus resources (including time) on efforts which you think most likely to succeed, help the group, and which coincide with your goals. Perhaps this seems devious to those who are not heard, but to some extent it is unavoidable. It is obnoxiously amusing, however, how the leadership manages to waste just enough time so that we don't have the time or quorum left at the end of the convention to hear the unsanctioned resolutions.
Even though there were no candidate speeches, there were quite a few newcomers already beginning the long slog toward congressional (and other) nominations, who were eager to chat in the convention halls. Some personal exposure can be quite helpful in deciding whom to support. I met one local congressional candidate who rapidly convinced me to support his opponents (whoever they may be) in the primary.
Outside the election of officers, the bulk of the convention dealt with the same bookkeeping matters we handled in last year's convention, as discussed here; I won't repeat their description.
My personal convention resolution passed unanimously: I resolve that I will attend next year's convention, but I will keep the latest Wall Street Journal handy to read during the most boring parts.