The political process

Political parties are private outfits. They are free to conduct their business any way they see fit. Members who don't like the way current party leaders do things are free to promote a new slate of officers, or take their support to another existing party, or even launch their own.

All that said, neither state Democrats nor Republicans did themselves proud in this spring's convention cycle.

Last fall, spokesmen for both major parties were exuberant about the high level of interest and new registrations flowing from their decisions to hold presidential preference caucuses in Nevada. Then the parties' leaders convened their Clark County conventions -- and stood there like deer in the headlights as the crowds that showed up swamped the rooms and facilities available.

Hadn't they been reading their own press releases?

To their credit, the Democrats -- whose process mattered more, in the late months of the spring, since they still had a contested race -- sorted out their differences and came up with a consensus delegate slate to their national convention.

And then there's the Republicans.

At their state convention in Reno, a committee report was brought to the floor, recommending the slate of delegates who should attend the national convention. But remember all those newcomers, anxious to participate in the political process -- the ones party leaders were welcoming last fall? They insisted the party platform be amended to include some mention of sound money and an end to the Federal Reserve -- the Ron Paul plank -- and proceeded to insist additional delegate nominations be accepted from the floor.

Oh, dear, said the established party leaders as the supper hour approached. We're out of time. Sorry. We'll adjourn and reconvene in July.

Except that last week Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden said the convention won't reconvene this month, at all -- the 12 members of the party's executive board will chat by telephone on July 25, selecting the delegate slate to go participate in the anointment of Sen. John McCain in Minneapolis on Sept. 1.

All perfectly legal, no doubt.

But so much for "welcoming all that new blood."

Yes, the result in Minneapolis is a foregone conclusion. But can we, perhaps, be subjected to substantially fewer expressions of puzzlement the next time we hear that Americans are giving up on the political process, expressing doubts that partisan activism "is any way to change things"?