Dordt Political Science Professor Jeff Taylor recently attended the 40th Republican National Convention (RNC) as a voting delegate for the state of Iowa. No matter the outcome in November, the honor of being a part of our country’s electoral process was not lost on Taylor. “Going to the national convention is kind of like going to the Super bowl of politics,” he said.
Taylor, who originally attended Northwestern College before teaching at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, has been a political activist for nearly all his life. He attended the 1976 RNC as junior delegate while still in middle school.
“That was the last time a national convention had been that exciting. You didn’t know who was going to win,” Taylor said, referring to Gerald Ford’s narrow victory over Ronald Reagan for the Republican nod that year.
This time, however, Taylor had the opportunity to experience a more “behind the scenes” look at the convention. “I got to talk to figures that I admire on the convention floor,” he said. “It does give you an opportunity to rub shoulders with prominent people you wouldn’t normally meet.”
There were also downsides to experiencing the action firsthand. Taylor referenced the “packaged” quality of the speeches and presenters, “with the exception of Clint Eastwood.”
“I think often times the superficial aspects get too much time,” Taylor said. “At the convention, they focused on how Mrs. Romney looked, what she was wearing. It’s mostly the packaging, but I’d like to see more content. I’d like to see more of that with the speeches. I wish the media would look a little deeper and more at the substance of things.”
However, the overall tone of the convention appeared to be one without controversy, according to Taylor. “There wasn’t a lot of controversy,” he said. “Everyone understood that Romney was the winner.”
The most tension came from an uncertainty over the outcome in November. “People said what they always say; that this is the most important election in our lifetime. A lot of Republicans are very fearful,” Taylor said. “I hope that Romney wins, however, I don’t think the sky is going to fall if he doesn’t. Usually the two parties choose middle of the road candidates. In reality, neither candidate is as bad as their opponents charge.”
Overall, Taylor remained positive about his experience, saying that he hoped to use it to motivate his students to become more involved in their local politics, regardless of party affiliation. He also pointed out that involvement doesn’t have to end just because the election is over.
“Get involved, vote, but it doesn’t end on election day,” he said. “You still need to be there to see that things get done…You’ve got to stay involved. Congress makes a difference. We’ve got to keep the pressure on.”
Most importantly, Taylor wants his students to realize that even at the college age, there is much they can do to get involved. “There were delegates at the convention in their early 20s. It’s never too early to get involved. This is the perfect time.”
Kristina Heflin, Staff Writer