As a former educator, I tend to like to grade things. The Republican Leadership Conference gets a B from me. While there were many positives about the event, there is definitely room for improvement. One must admit that the list of speakers was quite impressive. It was motivating and inspiring to hear from so many of our country’s great leaders. Again and again we got to hear how the country was going in the wrong direction. Again and again we heard that we need to get Obama out of the White House. Again and again we heard about his many failed policies and the changes that are needed. Notice the problem; what started out to be encouraging became a little tiring after a while. Yes, speakers were rallying the troops, trying to get elected or both. Yet the main complaint overheard in the halls was that we heard too much of the same over and over. Even when preaching to the choir, you can get to system overload. Fewer speakers given more time to give their presentations would have probably been appreciated by the crowd much more than the endless lineup of speaker after speaker after speaker. Yes, I know what most conferences are trying to accomplish. Yes, I know conferences are supposed to have many speakers. But I do believe these can be planned to be a little more attendee friendly.
As I said earlier, I gave the conference a B. But I found myself asking, what is the real goal of the RLC? If the goal was to fit in as many speakers as possible, then the conference actually gets an A. That goal was easily met. If the goal was to learn about the differences between the major candidates, again there would be a pretty good grade, even though we did hear much of the same thing. However, if the goal was to motivate or rally the troops and give a call to action, I’m not sure the conference was as successful here. I believe we need to spend more time on this. We need to be more specific when discussing how each individual can make a difference. The other goals mentioned are important, but if the Republican Party doesn’t get people to become active participants, Obama and his billion dollar war chest will be very tough to beat. Fewer speakers with more focus on what you can do to make a difference, in my opinion, is a needed change. To educate but not spend enough time motivating will not bring the success we need.
Saturday was the final day of the conference. I hate to admit it, even as someone who loves “all things politics,” I found my mind drifting. Who will be at the VIP reception? When are our friends leaving? Oh yeah, he is still speaking, I should pay attention. I sure could use some water; I’ll go get a cup. I also hate to admit, I didn’t have that problem when Rick Perry spoke. Buddy Roemer, Jeff Landry and many others gave thoughtful, interesting, informative speeches. But as each hour went by, the ability to be completely attentive decreased. I also felt sorry for the speakers at the very end of the day. For example, George P. Bush spoke to approximately one hundred people. This young man, along with all the others, took time away from their busy schedule and family to come to New Orleans. Each spent time preparing their speech wanting to impress the crowd. Sure, some put in more time than others, some gave the same speech they have given ten times before, yet they still worked to do a good job. Once Rick Perry finished, the majority of people left the building. They were tired; they had enough. I would have hated to be a speaker at the end of the program. How disappointed they must have been. Yet, you cannot blame the audience. Speeches were presented nonstop from 12 noon to 5:00 on Saturday. That is a very difficult schedule. Five hours without a scheduled break realistically means that you are going to miss part of the program. The video clips, the presentation by ANGA, and the Obama impersonator were all welcomed changes of pace during our three day event.
Overall I believe the Republican Leadership Conference was a success. The venue was wonderful; you can’t go wrong with the Hilton. There were multiple photo opportunities, book signings, and VIP events. But when it comes to the general sessions, I believe the lesson learned by the end of the program is sometimes less is more.