Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Mark's We the People Convention Experience

Well, let me say first that the logistics department at WMD and TIB were asleep on the job. Despite some warnings from myself(who has had extensive experience with the Columbus Convention Center) to find out which area of the Center we were going to be in, no info was gathered and we parked on the other side of the world from the convention area. This led to some wear and tear on Matt and myself, but I warned people.

On the whole, it was a nice first effort by Tom Z and the folks who made up this convention, although I would not, I repeat would not, have invited the John Birch Society. Their reps were almost as arrogant and entitled as Ron Paul's campaign reps were (more on that later). However, overall, it was a great first effort that garnered some headlines with the appearance of Mr. Herman Cain, candidate for President, as well as strategy sessions with Dick Morris and John Fund. Turnout was pretty good for a holiday weekend with lots to do and lots of other conventions in the area. On the whole, after further consideration, I give it a 7.5 out of 10.

Problems: If you are going to have a media area, you cannot expect the media to pay for their own internet, especially if you are going to invite bloggers. Wifi was very expensive at the convention area, and it was costly battery wise to operate from our smart phones. Despite numerous entreaties to get some wifi, the convention people never could get that done. This is a must in the future, especially if you want the media to pay attention and hang around. Also, I noticed many times that Tom Z, the grand poobah of this deal, was hard to find. I heard many times "where is Tom?" Communication needed to be better internally. Also, if you are going to have guests, make sure they have water. I have some experience in this area as well. There needs to be some type of instant communication with those in charge, and at times this was lacking. However, the staff was helpful and did well, especially when it came to screening people to make sure we didn't have many trolls.

Breakouts: The breakouts I attended were excellent. The roster of speakers was quite well done overall, with some folks being a bit constrained or not ready for the one hour or so format. I thought Dr. Matthew Spaulding of Heritage was excellent in his presentation about "We Still Hold These Truths" about founding principles. I also thought the gentleman from Heritage who did the overregulation and criminalization presentation were spot on. The folks f Americans for Prosperity were awesome, and kudos to Rebecca Heimlich and Seth Morgan for their excellent presentation skills as well as their organization. They kept things flowing lively and in an orderly fashion. I also thank them for allowing me to kind of join the panel without joining it when it came time for the blogging panel that Tom Blumer of Bizzyblog and Matt Hurley (of WMD)so wonderfully led. Those two did a lot to bring blogging to the people and disspell a lot of the esoteric b.s. of some other presenters who tried to make it sound like you had to do what they did to be successful, or that you couldn't cover national events because malkin already does. Kudos to those two for excellent work...oh yeah, and I helped!

There were two issues with panels. One, there were some folks from certain Ohio thinktanks that did not get to the issues of their seminars, and instead wandered about on related and important, but less focused issues. The other issue was with people trying too hard to show their intelligence in the Q and A instead of asking real questions to get help. People, if you have to disrupt a q and a with Dr. Spaulding for 15 minutes trying to argue about this perspective or that perspective, you aren't intelligent. You are just plain rude.

People: It was excellent to meet up with fellow SOBers who get it. Maggie Cook of Madison Project and her co-hort Amy were dynamos with their TV cameras and getting scoop worthy interviews, including one with Herman Cain. We also met up with Ralph King, an ardent Tea Partier and one of the mainstays of SOB. We also met up with Justin Higgins, who was stumping for Tim Pawlenty. We also met several other people and exchanged some great information and established some new relationships.

The only criticism of the breakouts was that perhaps they were a little too ambitious in their offerings. There were so many different choices in so little time. You could have even halved the number of presentations and lengthened their timeslots and still done well. However, all in all, not bad at all.

A big thank you to all the people who came up and had questions or comments about blogging, twitter, facebook, etc. I was honored and gratified that lil ol' me could help you and chat with you for a bit. Now get out there and let the blogging and tweeting begin.

However, one group I will not be establishing a relationship was the Ron Paul campaign. The people who worked that booth were uninformed, arrogant, and snobbish. They had no answers for legitimate questions that people had. They refused to debate any issue. It seemed to me that they were a bunch of college kids who just liked the reverse love logo in Paul's revolution banner and were interested in his legalizing pot. Other than that, they were self important and refused to engage. They even threatened to have Maggi of the Madison Project thrown out. Her crime? Asking policy and position questions. You would think they would read their own literature while they are waiting to get their snack on to satisfy their munchies during lunch break. If these are the best and brightest Ron Paul has to offer, then it is good he is not a real threat. They were pathetic.

I didn't attend many of the huge gatherings, like when Fund or Cain gave their speeches, but I was told they were outstanding.

All in all, I would say this event was a huge success for a first try, and I hope it is the first of many. The couple thousand or so who showed up during the two days got a lot of information, a little bit of inspiration, and a whole lot of new resources. Now let's go out and fight the good fight. Kudos to Tom Z, and with a little more improvement, this could be one of the top flight Tea party/conservative events in the country.