Yesterday, I presented a recap of Cass County’s caucus with my observations. Today is a continuation on that caucus theme…not the results of the weekend but on the conduct of the caucuses across the state.
I have to say that the conduct of some attendees across the state have been…well words fail me, let’s use atrocious. Some of that behavior, as it appears from the videos out of the St. Charles caucus, was planned. Other instances, supported by my observations of the Cass County caucus, was through ignorance of the process and of Robert’s Rules of Order.
When I was in High School a number of decades ago, Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedures were taught in the government and speech classes. The latter was an elective, the former, at least at that time in Illinois, was not.
In those classes, we conducted meetings using Robert’s Rules. We were taught how to use them and how the Rules allowed maximum communication while preventing chaos. Such topics and school instruction seem to have fallen by the wayside in today’s “modern” curriculum.
The parliamentary procedures are necessary if the meeting is not to fall into a shouting match. The St. Charles caucus failed to control the mob. In retrospect, it now appears that there was nothing the St. Charles chairman could have done. The disruption was planned in advance with the intent of seizing control of the caucus. We were more fortunate in Cass County, although for a while, our meeting got a bit boisterous as well.
It is important to recognize that when a dozen or more people are shouting, no one can be heard from that herd. There’s a reason why adherence to the Rules are important.
Now that the caucus is over, it’s time to review the caucus and make a “lessons learned” list. What was done well, such as the credentialing process, and what must be done better. For the latter, let me present some ideas.
1. Have an alternate site available in advance with working P/A facilities. The auditorium where we met was the right size, but it lacked a P/A. That made it difficult for the chairman to be heard in all corners of the room.2. Building on the P/A…have a wireless mic available for speakers from the floor. Once recognized, the speaker could be handed the mic and then be heard throughout the room.3. If the site is moved at the last minute, post a sign with a map and instruction were to find the new site. I was told by a number of folks that no sign nor map was posted at the New Justice Center. Some folks were late and were not allowed to enter. My Pastor and his wife were some of those turned away.4. Better communication with the public. Before the meeting, I roamed the room greeting folks. One common question was, “Where’s the ballot box?” All to many thought the caucus was just like the primary with a ballot. Many people there did not know they would not be voting on a presidential candidate but for delegates.5. If I heard correctly, only the four team leaders and the chairman had a copy of the proposed rules submitted by the Rules Committee. Going forward, copies should be available as handouts to be distributed as attendees passed through the credentialing process. Our caucus referred to the rules numerous times during the meeting. I had an opportunity to glance over them at the beginning of the meeting. Most of those attending did not and did not understand some of the issues under discussion.
6. Provide a brief handout on parliamentary procedures, explanations for “Points of Order, Points of Information, and Question.”
7. Finally, the county Central Committee should, and may have such already, schedule a review of the planning and performance of the caucus. Along with that review, record a “lessons learned” document for any future events. We don’t, as a party, want continue to make the same mistakes if/when the next caucus occurs.
I’m sure those who were more actively involved in the planning and conduct of the caucus can add more to my short list above. It is as important to document what went well as that that didn’t go well. When the next caucus or large meeting occurs, use those lessons learned to make that future event a success.
As important Robert’s Rules of Order are for a successful event, risk management—what could go wrong and how to mitigate the risks, is a top tool for planning. Lessons Learned provide input to the risk management process to make the meeting move smoothly.
Judging from the size of caucuses across the state, the Republican Party has grown. More and more are interested in Grass Roots politics. Many, such as myself, are becoming more active to work within the Party and to restore confidence in our government and respect to the Constitution. The Party as a whole must be prepared to accept these new members and integrate them into all levels from the local, through the state and on to the national committees.
We have a great opportunity before us. To paraphrase Archy Bunker, “Let us not screw this up!”