I'm told the Democratic nomination may come down to the backroom machinations of what seems to be a sinister group of tri-lateralist 34th degree Free Masons or some such. They're rumored to be "mostly-white mostly-rich mostly-men
," not to mention "unaccountable and undemocratic"
. Bill O'Reilly
offers a bit of concern trolling, predicting that when the cabal's work is exposed, the assembled delegates are going to "tear that arena down" and "destroy the Democratic Party."
Now we get this from
Democratic strategist and DNC member at large Donna Brazile...
"If 795 of my colleagues decide this election, I will quit the Democratic Party. I feel very strongly about this."
…and a corresponding pledge from Chris Bowers
If someone is nominated for POTUS from the Democratic Party despite another candidate receiving more poplar support from Democratic primary voters and caucus goers, I will resign as local precinct captain, resign my seat on the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee, immediately cease all fundraising for all Democrats, refuse to endorse the Democratic "nominee" for any office, an otherwise disengage from the Democratic Party through all available means of doing so.
If the Party Leaders and Elected Officials that are given the privilege and responsibility of making up the unpledged PLEO delegation to to the Democratic National Convention are, indeed, mostly white, rich and male, it's a reflection of the makeup of our Congressional delegation. The DNC members themselves are selected according to a scrupulous affirmative action formula, hence the substantial corps of "at large" members who are used to the desired balance. It's the very reason that
Democratic strategists like Donna Brazile are members. In the end, the balance isn't perfect, but it's not disregarded. (And yes, electing Darcy
would be a step in the right direction.)
As for their being "unaccountable and undemocratic," as I review the list
of PLEO's from the upper left, it looks like one of the most accountable groups of folks you'll find. All but one, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, is currently holding an elected position, either in public or Party office. They'll all come home from the convention to face constituencies who can, and should, hold them accountable for the part of their job that includes guiding our Party as delegates to our National Convention. How many "pledged" delegates risk a similar amount of scrutiny when they come home? How many put their employment on the line as an element of their choice?
Bower's notion of tying the convention outcome to a national primary and caucus outcome is troubling because there is no national primary, nor caucus, and hence no outcome. The various procedures used by various states to select convention delegates have the DNC rules in common, but are widely different in procedure, participation and timing. The way caucus outcomes are measured, with the imposition of thresholds and subsequent switches, sometimes in two or three steps before a delegation is finalized, results in a count that's impossible to compare to the outcome in a primary state, though even there factors like thresholds and subsequent conventions can blur the true sentiment at the grassroots. Add the fact that despite the record turnouts we see this year, these are typically low turnout events, involving a fraction of the overall Democratic electorate. Many, indeed, most, don't choose to participate in what they see as the 'inside baseball' business of the nominating process, satisfied that the Convention will work its will and produce a qualified ticket. Sometime around Labor Day, folks will start paying real attention to the choices they're offered. Tying anything to an imaginary national outcome is as silly as the so-called "battle of the states
." (I'll take California and spot you two Idahos and a Utah. Gimme New York and I'll toss in Wyoming and American Somoa.)
Tying the votes of the unpledged PLEOs to such an outcome, at the state, national or any level, is, contrary to Bowers' case, a violation of the rules of the convention. He argues...
If you think this is somehow rejecting the rules and bylaws of the Democratic Party, you are wrong. The fact is that there is nothing in the bylaws of the Democratic Party that dictate how super delegates should vote at the Democratic national convention.
Actually, he unintentionally makes the opposite case. As he says, nothing in the bylaws binds the votes of the PLEOs. Making up a standard after the fact and holding those delegates to it, without ratification by the National Convention, precisely rejects the rules and bylaws of the Democratic Party. It's no accident that unlike all other delegates to the convention, the PLEOs are unnpledged. That's deliberate. Some argue that this is somehow undemocratic, but what sort of democracy dictates how an individual must cast his ballot? Pledged delegates choose the campaign they represent, and, in fact, despite their 'pledge,' retain their choice throughout the process, including the first ballot of the National Convention. Every delegation is individually polled for each ballot, with no predetermined bloc voting permitted. Every delegate may, ultimately, vote as they choose.
Why then should these Party Leaders and Elected Officials, people we have entrusted with a role in determining the course and success of our Party, people who have sweat equity in the Party and skin in the game on the ballot, why should they be bound, even when their personal judgment is that another choice is the best for our Party and our nation? Should we bind them to violate the very trust with which we endow them? Where's the democracy in that? I prefer to hold them to the standard of representative democracy, a democratic and Democratic principle since Democrats like Jefferson and Madison set about designing this grand and ongoing experiment in liberal governance.
We entrust our leaders (and on the Washington PLEO list, three have represented me in the US House. One I've voted for in every election she's faced, from the local school board to the US Senate. They're not strangers.) with many occasions to exercise their judgment responsibly. This is one of them. If they abuse that trust, we can seek their removal, but we cannot reasonably, and certainly not in the name of democracy or Democratic prinicples, deny them the right to cast a freely chosen ballot at the convention.
And Ms. Brazile? Fear not. 795 of your colleagues, even if they could somehow be magically united, can't and won't decide anything. Decisions on the convention floor still take 2025 votes.
Labels: Delegates, Democratic National Convention, PLEOs, Super Delegates, Washington State