It's DEMOCRACY Stupid! (Updated)
by alegre, Thu May 22, 2008 at 06:04:23 PM EDT
One woman (or man) - one vote.
That's the rock-solid foundation our nation has stood upon for generations.
Voting rights are something Democrats have fought long and hard for when it comes to our brothers and sisters all over the country. If someone tries to disenfranchise another citizen, Democrats are the first to do something about it. We've fought long and hard to get rid of literacy tests, poll taxes, and dirty games at the polling stations when Republicans try to keep folks from voting. Hillary's shown her commitment to this ideal all along, starting with her efforts to register voters in Texas some 35 years ago.
We were also the ones who fought to keep the vote-counting going down in Florida in 2000 when Katherine Harris tried to steal the election. Several times we thought we'd headed her off at the pass only to have the Supreme Court scuttle our efforts. We still spit her name whenever someone mentions her - she stole an election and for that we'll never forgive her.
So given this long history of our party's fight for voting rights, how is it that our own party leaders are now trying to disenfranchise millions of fellow-Democrats in Florida and Michigan (my home state)?
The campaign held one of their regular press conference calls this morning and I was fortunate enough to be at my desk at the time, so I listened in. A big part of the call centered around what they hope to see happen when the Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) meets in DC on May 31st. Here's a YouTube audio of the introductory remarks of the call...
(Thanks to No Quarter for getting this up on line)
So about those lawsuits mentioned in the above call... Several news outlets in Florida are covering a challenge from three superdelegates in the Sunshine State. From today's Miami Herald...
Florida's history of discrimination against African Americans should force the national Democratic Party to count all of the state's delegates at its national convention, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday claims.
The suit, filed by state Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller and two other Democrats, claims that the federal Voting Rights Act prohibits the national party from stripping the state of its convention delegates.
The Civil Rights-era law requires the U.S. Justice Department to approve any significant voting change in Florida to make sure it doesn't disenfranchise minority voters. Geller argues that includes the Democratic National Committee's demand that Florida switch ''from a state-run primary to party-run caucus system'' to avoid losing its delegates.
''The purpose of this lawsuit is not to support one candidate over another; it's to enforce one of the most basic tenets of our democracy: Count the votes as they were cast,'' Geller said in announcing the lawsuit.
Now we're all clear on the initial reason the DNC handed down this severe and extreme punishment - Florida moved its primary up and when the Dems couldn't convince the Republican controlled state legislature to move it back, the DNC stripped them of their delegates. All of them. Add to that the further "insult" that Florida refused to replace the votes of those 1.75 million Floridians with a caucus vote, and I'll bet the DNC powers-that-be (Donna Brazile being one of them) had steam comin' out of their ears. But the thing is, they would have replaced the will of those 1.75 million voters with the wishes of caucus goers. And they figured there would only be about 10 percent turnout in those caucuses. And there would have only been about 120 polling places. These caucuses would have excluded the infirm, the elderly, anyone who works at the appointed time of the caucus, members of our military serving outside the state, parents with young children who can't get childcare... the list goes on and on and on gang.
Now I ask you... is this fair given the fact that those 1.75 million voters didn't have a say in when their primary was held in the first place? This push to not count all the votes as they were cast... is this what Democrats now stand for????
In addition to Geller, who is an uncommitted super-delegate, plaintiffs include a Florida delegate for Hillary Clinton, Barbara Effman and one for Barack Obama, Percy Johnson.
Geller believes the strongest argument Florida Democrats have in the legal challenge is how it relates to Section Five of the Voting Rights Act. The 1965 act was designed to protect blacks, primarily in southern states, from discrimination by banning literacy tests, poll taxes and unfair redistricting that had denied them access to the voting booths.
Another Florida website out of Tampa Bay also covered this lawsuit...
Three Florida Democratic delegates to the party's presidential nominating convention have sued their national party in another attempt to get the state's Jan. 29 renegade primary recognized.
"The (Democratic National Committee) believes that although nearly 1,750,000 of the more than 4,000,000 registered Florida Democrats voted in the Primary for one of the Democrats named on the ballot, the DNC - irrespective of the Timing Rule or any other rule, state law, or the U.S. Constitution - never has to count a vote cast in a presidential preference primary," the suit says.
The state party used the Jan. 29 primary to allocate 185 delegates, with 105 pledged to Clinton, 67 backing Obama and 13 for John Edwards. There are 26 unpledged super delegates - elected officials, party executives and other bigwigs - that are also not recognized in the state's delegation.
That bolded bit above...? Gang they had a nearly 50% turnout in a primary that people said wouldn't count. Doesn't that tell you someing????
The article goes on to say that the state party has a hearing on May 31st with the DNC, in which they'll try to get the delegations seated at half strength. Not an option in my book - that's like saying the citizens of Florida and Michigan (my home state) are only entitled to half the representation the rest of us enjoy and that's NOT what the Democratic party is all about.
Funny, the basis for this suit appears to be the disenfranchisement of minorities in Florida, and it relies on the Voting Rights Act - something that ALL Democrats can agree is one of the most important laws of the 20th century. How anyone - especially a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination in this presidential race - could argue against including all votes is beyond me.
This whole thing raises an important question that I think we all need to consider here guys... If BO manages to scuttle the seating of ALL of the delegates from these two vital swing states (in accordance with the express wishes of 2.3 million voters, then how exactly will he be able to claim he's the nominee of all of us? This 48 plus two halfs state strategy just won't cut it with the voters in Michigan (my home state) and Florida guys. Something that was so wisely pointed out on Anglachel's blog...
The increasing rejection of Obama by voters is a measure of his declining legitimacy. People who once thought they would gladly vote for him, like me, are now implacably opposed to him. He is no longer legitimate in our eyes. He has not sought legitimacy, which would mean facing up to oposition and allowing himself to be challenged, questioned, and probably be found wanting by some people, but has opted to pursue power at any price. Participating in and profiting from the media hatred of the Clintons, throwing out accusations of racism to try to forestall criticism and inflate AA vote counts, encouraging people to be "Obamacans" not Democrats, the "Democrat for a Day" strategy, engaging in intimidation and threats to extract caucus votes, aggressively trying to monopolize money specifically to silence alternative voices, and treating voters who do not choose him first with contempt.
Lack of legitimacy means relying on force to win. If you have to bully people to make them be quiet, you have lost legitimacy. If you have to remove votes from the contest in order to win, you have lost legitimacy.
You gain legitimacy by being willing to risk power. This is the root cause of Obama's failure to be a unifying figure even as he preaches Unity.
Now part of her post references something that was posted over at the Confluence by River Daughter. These wise women raise a relevant point gang. Why not do the right thing and afford the voters of Michigan (my home state) and Florida full representation at our party's convention this summer?
Tuesday Bird Brains
Who is giving them permission to set aside their ethics and shuffle off the standards of acceptable behavior? Who is running the party that allows for the brutal suppression of one half by the unleashed id of the other half? I put the blame at the top of the party and Obama himself.
There is a price to be paid for such aggressive and insensitive behavior. People do have free will. The party belongs to the people who believe in its principles. Those principles of social justice, equality and shared responsibility can not be discarded for Change! without the party suffering some severe blows to its foundation. Going forward, the party becomes a fragile shell, easily blown to bits by outside forces because its foundations of support have been carelessly undermined.
Armando raised a great point in this morning's press call - something I would think BO and his camp would have already considered and run with...
If he goes along with the seating of ALL of the delegates from Florida and Michigan (my home state) it would certainly add a degree of legitimacy to his campaign should he prevail and win the nomination in August. If he agreed to play fair re the 2.3 million voters who turned out in those primaries, then that would take away a huge point in Hillary's favor at the moment. She won't be able to advocate for the rights of those voters, because they'll all be on the same page in this effort.
I would have added one other point on that score...
If BO's so certain of winning the nomination then WHY is he so worried about seating all of those delegates? Hmmmmm????
And then someone else on that conference call rolled in with the usual "what if you don't get all you want? What will you do then?" bs.
Guys this is NOT a question of what Hillary wants. It's about defining our party going forward. Are we a party that pushes for FULL INCLUSION?
For voting rights?
For an open and fair election?
Because if we are then the only true course of action is to seat ALL of the delegates as apportioned and certified by the people of Florida and Michigan (my home state).
Here's the thing gang... millions of people live in those two states and dammit 2.3 million people turned out to vote in these elections. This was a record setting year in Florida despite the fact that people were telling them not to bother - that it wouldn't count. They voted anyway because they wanted to exercise their constitutional rights as citizens of this great land. They're our family and friends and they deserve the same rights as we do. Not because someone granted them to them - but because they've earned it.
My mom and step-dad. My bother and his family. My sisters and their families. Uncles, aunts, cousins... real people who deserve a voice in this election.
I mean we ARE still DEMOCRATS - right????
As far as Florida and Michigan (my home state) go, the way each candidate handled everything in Michigan points to a very stark difference in their leadership style, and to their devotion to the idea that we all get an equal say in how we're governed...
Hillary stood before the voters in Michigan
Obama blew them off with his games and one-upsmanship in order to kiss up to the voters in IA, and it paid off for him.
She was also willing to stand before the voters in Michigan AGAIN - she was that confident that she could reach out to enough of them to earn their support and their vote.
BO stood in the way of that re-vote - despite the fact that one of the proposals was to re-vote by a mail-in ballot (a plan or legislation that he actually co-sponsored as a Senator). So you have to ask what exactly he's afraid of in Michigan. Why won't he go before the voters there and ask them to support his run for the White House, especially if he's so confident of victory in Denver?
She's got the guts to stand up and ask for votes - he doesn't.
SHE'S on the side of full inclusion - he's talking about cutting their votes in half or splitting things down the middle (contrary to the expressed wishes of the voters).
Now which one sounds like a true leader and a DEMOCRAT?
Gang the renegade states have already been punished by the candidates refusal to campaign in their states. Michigan's economy is crap so that hit them hard.
It's time to move on and seat the delegates.
It's time Democrats started acting like Democrats again.
Wow. In looking through the comments here I've gotta say I'm shocked. Shocked to see a handful of angry people work so hard to disrupt a discussion about something that we Democrats have stood strong for over decades of hard work. Going back to the fight to gain suffrage for AAs and women.
To the distupters here I've got one thing to say... this is about voting rights and if you can't see that then there's no helping you.
Ok two things... If this is the change and hope your guy keeps blathering on about without really defining it - exclusion and disenfranchisement of millions of Americans then you can freaking keep it. I for one (and I'm sure I'm not alone in this) don't want any part in your struggle to keep the people of Michigan (my home state) and Florida out of this process.
You tell Michigan (my home state) and Florida to eff off then you're setting us up for certain failure come November.
As far as I'm concerned, your struggle centers around taking away a basic right in our society - the right to vote and be heard as we select our nect leader. This is NOT the Democratic party I grew up with and have worked so hard for since 1971.
You know what to do.