Tyler Lindholm, lead substation electrician at Basin Electric’s Transmission System Maintenance shop in Gillette, WY, attended the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, at the end of August as an alternate delegate in support of Rep. Ron Paul, who was vying for the Republican presidential nomination.
See a video of Lindholm, posted to TIME magazine’s website: Basin Electric employee featured on TIME magazine website
In his own words, Lindholm reflects on the experience:
“The caucus and primary process may be the most important, hands-on way to vote in this country. Without this process and the time spent working through the process, America’s election season would be nothing more than a one-hour show where private interests picked our leaders. Some might say this is already the case, but I firmly believe those people have never stepped foot into the machine we call the primary season.
“First let me start by explaining how one becomes a delegate to the national convention. I can only speak with any real authority about my own state and how we as counties caucus, but for a lot of the nation some of these principles hold true. The very first step is to attend your county caucus, most likely this will be held in your county seat. At this caucus, the precincts from throughout the county gather, create platforms and resolutions, and elect two delegates to represent them at the county convention.
“The county convention will take place several weeks to months later and at this county convention, only elected precinct delegates have the right to vote on whether or not to keep the platforms and resolutions presented by the precincts on a case-by-case basis. Once the county convention has adopted the platforms and resolutions they want to keep, the convention moves onto the election of state delegates.
“The amount of delegates a county is allowed to send to state is based on the number of registered Republican voters within the county. In my county’s case we were allowed nine delegates and nine alternate delegates. The alternate delegates are elected in case a delegate cannot make the state convention. Once elected to represent their county, these delegates will go to the state convention where they will help determine the path of the state party.
“At the state convention, every county’s platforms and resolutions is voted or combined to adopt as a state set of platforms and resolutions. The state then elects its delegates and alternates to the national convention. Just like the counties, the state has only so many delegate slots, based on population, available that they must fill. I was elected as an alternate delegate supporting the Ron Paul nomination.
“It’s also important to note that all of the expenses for the state convention and the national convention are entirely on the delegate. No one receives any money from the state or national party to attend the convention; this is paid for by each delegate. I put together a raffle for a Ruger 10/22 rifle to help offset some the expenses for the trip, and that helped immensely.
“The hotel was $300 a night and I split the room with 2 other people to save money. Some people might see the expense as frivolous or exorbitant, but having the opportunity to influence the direction of the Republican Party at a national level is well worth it.
“I arrived in Tampa, FL, a day early to attend the Ron Paul Rally. It was amazing to see the diversity of people Dr. Paul drew to his stance of extremely limited government. During and after this event I had the opportunity to meet Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Jack Hunter, Justin Amash and many others associated with the liberty movement in the Republican Party. It was an excellent experience and for those at home that couldn’t attend, C-SPAN played it live.
“The convention was due to start on Monday, but was delayed with the threat of a hurricane that in the end, missed us. It was fortunate though, because we were able to meet a lot of the other delegates staying in our hotel, and we were able to see some of Tampa that we would’ve been too busy to see otherwise. The rain that did hit Tampa made me jealous for my home state, as Wyoming is extremely dry right now.
“My bunkmate, Sen. Ogden Driskill, and I made our way to the convention hall to take in some sights and to see what we were in for. The hall was a flurry of action as news agencies setup, and bands were practicing. We had the opportunity to meet several people from other countries who were attending as press. Among those countries represented that we met were Spain, Britain, Norway and Canada.
“Tuesday came around with a 7 p.m. start. Who starts work at 7 p.m.? During the proceedings we adopted our platforms, rules, and conducted our state roll call vote. Some things happened that I didn’t agree with, but at the end of the day I was happy that I was at least able to participate.
“The best way to describe Tuesday’s proceedings, is in my estimate be the same way I’ve heard Democracy described, two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. Some cases weren’t so cut and dry though, and when a floor division was called, we were patently ignored.
“Another good reason to become involved, so that things like this will not be tolerated. The system is a good one and it does work, but when the system isn’t allowed to work, it becomes abundantly clear that there is work to be done.
“The rest of the convention was concentrated less on party business, and more on speeches. I heard Marco Rubio talk on how his family immigrated to improve their children’s lives. I also got the opportunity to watch Clint Eastwood talk to a chair: good times!
“In all seriousness though, it was a good time, and a very educational experience for me. I also made some new friends and got to see things from a different perspective, which brings me to my biggest point: If you’re going to complain about which way our country is headed, or which way a certain member of your legislature votes, then you need to become part of the solution.”