Today is the third day of the 2012 Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion in Tam­pa, Flori­da. Here’s a roundup of some of the goings-on there, as report­ed by The Seat­tle Times‘ Jim Brun­ner, The Stranger‘s Paul Con­stant, and oth­er jour­nal­ists who are in town cov­er­ing the con­ven­tion from a nation­al perspective.

Incom­pe­tent cen­tral plan­ning by the Repub­li­can Par­ty kept many of Wash­ing­ton State’s Repub­li­can del­e­gates from get­ting back to their hotel at a rea­son­able hour last night. The Seat­tle Times’ Jim Brun­ner reports that the pri­vate­ly owned and oper­at­ed char­ter bus­es that were sup­posed to expe­di­ent­ly trans­port del­e­gates between the Tam­pa Bay Times Forum and a “trans­fer zone” at Ray­mond James Sta­di­um (where a sec­ond fleet of bus­es were wait­ing) trapped each oth­er in a traf­fic jam out­side of the entrance to the trans­fer zone.

Con­se­quent­ly, it took a very long time for del­e­gates to get to the bus that had been char­tered to bring them back to their accom­mo­da­tions. Del­e­gates end­ed up demand­ing to be let off the first bus so they could walk to the sec­ond one. Brun­ner tweet­ed that he reached the Hol­i­day Inn around 3 AM.

Brun­ner also tweet­ed that he was pass­ing the time with ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman, who is attend­ing the RNC as a guest of Kir­by Wilbur’s, and lat­er quot­ed Eyman in his write-up of the fias­co:

Board­ing the sec­ond bus back to a Clear­wa­ter Beach hotel, I nee­dled Eyman that per­haps bet­ter cen­tral plan­ning or a beefed up pub­lic tran­sit sys­tem could have avoid­ed the chaos.

“Absolute­ly not!” he shot back, laugh­ing. “What they need­ed was a total free mar­ket – no bus­es at all and said to every­body find your own way to get to the damn sta­di­um and then every­body would have found their own route to get to the place. It was just too much socialism!”

I did­n’t hear Eyman say this, so I don’t know if he was attempt­ing to be delib­er­ate­ly over-the-top, but what he told Brun­ner makes no sense.

Not hav­ing any kind of a trans­porta­tion plan — telling every­one to find their own way to the Tam­pa Bay Times Forum (which, inci­den­tal­ly, was built with pub­lic mon­ey) — would not have worked at all. There are more than two thou­sand del­e­gates at the RNC, and thou­sands more par­tic­i­pat­ing in the RNC who are not del­e­gates. If each attendee was instruct­ed to com­mute to the are­na in their own vehi­cle, only a lucky few would be able to get inside with­out hav­ing to spend much of their day wait­ing inside an idling taxi­cab or rental car.

What’s more, Eyman’s notion of a “total free mar­ket” is ludi­crous. There’s no such thing as a free mar­ket… let alone a “total” free mar­ket. (Inci­den­tal­ly, “total free mar­ket” is a curi­ous phrase for a con­ser­v­a­tive to use, since it would seem to imply that “free mar­kets” are not in fact free, as pro­gres­sives have long point­ed out).

In real­i­ty, all mar­kets are con­struct­ed for some­body’s ben­e­fit, and no mar­ket stands on its own for very long with­out reg­u­la­tion. Very few mar­kets in the real world are con­sid­ered by econ­o­mists to be per­fect­ly com­pet­i­tive. (A per­fect­ly com­pet­i­tive mar­ket is a mar­ket that is dri­ven exclu­sive­ly by mar­ket forces, like the four laws of sup­ply and demand, where firms have no con­trol over prices).

If gov­ern­ment played no role in trans­porta­tion, we would not have a very good roads sys­tem, and our econ­o­my would not func­tion, because build­ing and main­tain­ing a far-flung roads sys­tem is not some­thing the pri­vate sec­tor is capa­ble of doing. Busi­ness­es depend on the pub­lic sec­tor to con­struct and oper­ate basic infra­struc­ture like roads, bridges, and ports (which allow them to trans­port goods to mar­ket) and mass tran­sit sys­tems (which allow their employ­ees to get to work).

Roads are just as social­ist as mass tran­sit. All trans­porta­tion plan­ning is by neces­si­ty social engi­neer­ing. But then, Tim Eyman has nev­er been a trans­porta­tion expert. He does­n’t under­stand what it takes to effi­cient­ly and effec­tive­ly move peo­ple from place to place. No won­der the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton have repeat­ed­ly said no when he’s tried to con­vince them to let him play trans­porta­tion planner.

Any­how, enough about that. Let’s move on.

Though the Wash­ing­ton State Repub­li­cans’ host hotel (a Hol­i­day Inn) is locat­ed some twen­ty-five plus miles from the Tam­pa Bay Times Forum in Clear­wa­ter, the del­e­ga­tion does have pret­ty good seats inside the Forum, which is one of the coun­try’s more spa­cious bas­ket­ball are­nas. Brun­ner says the del­e­ga­tion has a promi­nent spot right behind Vir­ginia with a good view of the podium.

The Stranger’s Paul Con­stant con­tin­ues to talk to pro­test­ers on the streets of Tam­pa. The lat­est install­ment of his series depict­ing pro­test­ers and their signs fea­tures a man named Bob, who is appar­ent­ly a counter-pro­test­er (a pro­test­er protest­ing the pro­test­ers — sor­ry for the mouth­ful!) Ear­li­er, he talked to Lau­ra, a Tam­pa native who does­n’t agree with the Repub­li­can platform.

Local busi­ness­es in Tam­pa aren’t yet see­ing much of a boost in foot traf­fic from the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion. The Asso­ci­at­ed Press reports that bad weath­er and tight secu­ri­ty appeared to be keep­ing many del­e­gates away from store­fronts in down­town. Tam­pa May­or Bob Buck­horn still believes the con­ven­tion will result in a net gain for the city, though he admit­ted down­town was “dead” on Mon­day, the first day of the convention.

Repub­li­can gov­er­nors are spend­ing a lot of time in Tam­pa woo­ing big donors behind the scenes, reports Politi­co’s Ken Vogel, who used to work at The News Tri­bune of Taco­ma some years ago. Wrote Vogel:

On Wednes­day after­noon, one gov­er­nor after the next pulled up in SUVs with police escorts to a dis­creet side entrance of the exclu­sive Tam­pa Club for a lun­cheon of the Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors Association’s top donor club, the Exec­u­tive Round­table. It pro­vides spe­cial access to gov­er­nors for folks who give $25,000 or more each year, more than 80 of whom came to hear speech­es from Govs. Bob McDon­nell of Vir­ginia and Chris Christie of New Jer­sey, and to min­gle with Govs. Ter­ry Branstad of Iowa, Mary Fallin of Okla­homa and Scott Walk­er of Wisconsin.

The Repub­li­can Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion is expect­ed to spend heav­i­ly on Rob McKen­na’s behalf in the com­ing weeks. The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion is poised to do like­wise on behalf of Jay Inslee.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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3 replies on “RNC Watch: Charter bus fiasco keeps Washington State Republicans up really late”

  1. Do a lit­tle research. The rea­son down­town Tam­pa was “dead” on Mon­day was the Con­ven­tion was can­celled, schools were can­celled and busi­ness­es were closed that day because of Isaac!

    1. Judg­ing by your com­ment, I’m guess­ing you did­n’t read the post very care­ful­ly, Michelle. Here’s the rel­e­vant part again:

      Local busi­ness­es in Tam­pa aren’t yet see­ing much of a boost in foot traf­fic from the Repub­li­can Nation­al Con­ven­tion. The Asso­ci­at­ed Press reports that bad weath­er and tight secu­ri­ty appeared to be keep­ing many del­e­gates away from store­fronts in downtown.

      Notice the words bad weath­er? They refer to Hur­ri­cane Issac.

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