Magazine | May 23, 2016, Issue

Robert’s Rules of Order

Special Republican Convention Edition

Welcome, delegates! We’re pleased to see you and hope you’re all settled into your hotels here in Cleveland! By now you’ve received your official delegate packet, which includes a welcome note from the mayor of Cleveland and photographs of your children and maps of their daily routines from the Trump campaign.

We’re in for an exciting week! (Or two, or three. Please see below, “Motion to Suspend Indefinitely.”)

Before we get started, however, we’d like to refresh your memory about some of the key provisions in Robert’s Rules of Order, which as you may or may not know are the guiding rules for our time together. Despite what you may have read during the run-up to the convention, “Robert” of Robert’s Rules is not a RINO GOPe establishment hack, but U.S. Army Major Henry Martyn Robert, who codified these rules in 1876.

General Guidelines:

The following are general procedures to keep in mind as we begin the nominating process:

Obtaining the Floor:

The best way to obtain the floor is by asking the chair to recognize you from the podium. This is usually accomplished by raising your hand or making a short, loud call to the podium. Until the third ballot, it is not acceptable to set another delegate on fire and use the smoke as an attention-getting device.

Ending Debate:

Ending the debate is a complicated process that often entails several rounds of additions, amendments, and debating the “question” of whether to end debate at all. This is exactly the kind of thing that separates us from the animals, which is why the chair will entertain these motions only from delegates who have maintained an assault- and/or battery-incident-free span greater than one (1) day, a “day” being defined as four hours.

Addressing Remarks:

Robert’s Rules states that all remarks should be addressed to the chair and that persons speaking must refrain from personal, ad hominem, threatening, or otherwise hostile language.

This rule will be suspended for the duration of the Republican National Convention.

Acceptable Floor Motions & Responses:

The following are acceptable motions and calls from the floor, with appropriate responses:

Point of Privilege:

Any delegate may, at any time, raise a point of privilege. In general, these points are given immediate attention from the chair. A point of privilege relates to safety, comfort, or the ability to physically participate in the proceedings. If you find yourself under the boot of a fellow delegate, or if you cannot hear the speakers due to a swelling in your face and/or head, this would be an appropriate time to raise a point of privilege.

Question of Hand Size:

At any time, any qualified delegate may ask that the speaker’s hands be measured against a uniform hand-size standard. Does not require a vote. For informational purposes only.

Motion to Summon Lucifer:

During the floor debate on the nominee question, the speaker who is recognized by the chair may, if he or she wishes, introduce a motion to summon Lucifer in the flesh to stand alongside any candidate for nomination in order for the assembly to ascertain which potential nominee more closely resembles the Dark Lord of the Underworld. Does not require a vote. For informational purposes only.

Point of Order:

At any time during the proceedings, any delegate may call to the chair with a point of order. A point of order is appropriate only if a qualified delegate believes that the rules of order have been broken or misapplied.

During the 2016 Republican National Convention, points of order will be ignored by the chair.

Motion to Suspend Indefinitely:

Robert’s Rules allow for any qualified delegate to introduce a motion to suspend the proceedings. These motions require a second, and a voice vote. The chair may also introduce a motion to suspend if he or she believes the proceedings are in disarray, because of either a series of small fires that have broken out on the floor or perhaps the arrival of emergency medical crew to collect and remove the injured.

Once the motion to suspend has been seconded and affirmed by vote, only the chair may reopen the proceedings from the secure “panic room” of the Quicken Loans Arena.

Motion to Disband:

From the floor, any qualified delegate may make a motion to disband the Republican party by simply raising both hands, bowing his or her head, and weeping silently (see also: “Motion to Capitulate”).

Point of Hairstyle:

At any time, any qualified delegate may ask that the speaker’s hairstyle be “unrolled” or “ unwrapped” to provide a clear idea of its structure and physical makeup.

Motion to Capitulate:

The assembly may, if it chooses, introduce a Sense of the Convention Statement endorsing Hillary Rodham Clinton for president of the United States, thereby saving itself a lot of time and heartache.

These motions may be introduced at any time from the floor, but the sooner the better.

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