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The Decline of Convention Civility and Decency reprinted a 2008 column by Butler Shaffer, which was his description of the 2008 Minnesota state GOP convention for Presidential election nomination. Butler gives a good description of how the civility and decency of past conventions have declined. Here are some excerpts:

If there was one sentiment that dominated this convention, it was the stark fear, by the party faithful, that Ron Paul’s message might actually be heard by the delegates…Paul’s message might remind Republicans of the importance of policies driven by moral principles; that ideas do have consequences…

While I felt a good deal of sympathy for the Ron Paul supporters — who presented the only solid base of decency I saw exhibited — I do think that if these people want to participate in politics, they need to become adept at playing the procedural and tactical games that go with it without, in the process, becoming a part of the problem. I noticed, for instance, that there were three-floor microphones from which delegates could address the chair. Around each of these microphones were some ten to twelve apparent McCain supporters not waiting to ask any questions, but to block access by any of the Paulists. As I watched this, I was reminded of visits I had made to China where I observed how effectively the Chinese were able to get through crowds with a pair of sharp elbows, a tactic the Paul supporters might have adopted.

Perhaps my greatest sympathy, however, went out to a man who wasn’t even in attendance: Jesus. I am not a religious person, but I do believe a man like this deserved far better treatment than he got from this crowd. Speaker after speaker expressed his or her love and devotion to Jesus, at the same time cheering on any and every expression of pro-war sentiment. When one delegate — presumably of Ron Paul’s persuasion — made a motion to allow those who opposed the Iraq War to be heard, he was greeted with a thunderous chorus of boos. I imagined what might have transpired had Jesus been a delegate and asked to address the convention on the essence of his message: love and peace. (Full article…)

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