Monday, February 18, 2008

No Stealing

The people's voice must be heard and understood
at the Democratic National Convention!
by Charlie Leck

The NY Times ran an extensive and thorough story about
this explosive problem on Saturday, 16 February 2008.
[check out the NY Times story]

We must make sure the will of the people all across the land is heard in the upcoming national convention. You can make sure it happens! Do what you must do! Instructions will follow!

The Democrats are going to have an excellent candidate for President in the November election. We can be sure of this.

There is a danger, however, that a lot of people who generally vote for Democrat candidates will not, by choice, vote in the coming election.
I can hear the rumblings already among my friends. Emails are coming in to me from all around the country. Many of you have urged that I write this particular blog as a warning to the national party and to our local party big-wigs and elected officials. To set the stage, here's the opening of a column by Mark Sirota at The Huffinton Post.

"Looks like Hillary Clinton's campaign machine is getting its superdelegates (aka party insiders) to start softening up the public for a potential trampling of democracy that may mark the Democratic National Convention. This morning we have two superdelegates from different parts of the country landing headlines in their local papers saying they are fully prepared to ignore voters and trample democracy -- as long as that lets them help Clinton potentially steal the Democratic Nomination."
[clear here to read entire column]

Christ Bowers at Open Left writes his strong opinion about the possibility of the Super Delegates taking over the convention.

"Here at Open Left, I have made my position in these debates perfectly clear. First, superdelegates should respect the popular will of Democratic primary voters and caucus goers. Second, I also do not think it's not accurate to list superdelegates in overall delegate totals at this time. They have been known to switch their support in the past, and have historically supported the party's popular vote winner. Indications are that history will repeat itself, considering that Rep. John Lewis became the third super delegate in the past seven days to switch his vote. Also, when recently asked if super delegates would overturn the popular will of primary voters and caucus goers, Democratic superdelegate Elaine Kamarck replied 'superdelegates are cowards - we would never do that.'"

In a guest-commentary column in the NY Times, Ted Devine reviews the reasons the category of delegates was created.

"Democrats created these superdelegates after the 1980 election with several purposes in mind.

"Party leaders had been underrepresented on the floor of the 1980 convention, which was the culmination of a bitter contest for the nomination between President Jimmy Carter and Senator Ted Kennedy that left our party deeply divided and contributed to the party's loss of the presidency that year.

"Many party leaders felt that the delegates would actually be more representative of all Democratic voters if we had more elected officials on the convention floor to offset the more liberal impulses of party activists.

"But the superdelegates were also created to provide unity at the nominating convention.
"They are a critical mass of uncommitted convention voters who can move in large
numbers toward the candidate who receives the most votes in the party's
primaries and caucuses. Their votes can provide a margin of comfort and even
victory to a nominee who wins a narrow race.

"The superdelegates were never intended to be part of the dash from Iowa to Super Tuesday and beyond. They should resist the impulse and pressure to decide the nomination before the voters have had their say.
"The party's leaders and elected officials need to stop pledging themselves to either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama, the two remarkable candidates who are locked in an intense battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"…After listening to the voters, the superdelegates can do what the Democratic Party's rules originally envisioned. They can ratify the results of the primaries and
caucuses in all 50 states by moving as a bloc toward the candidate who has proved to be the strongest in the contest that matters — not the inside game of the delegate hunt, but the outside contest of ideas and inspiration, where hope can battle with experience and voters can make the right and best choice for our party and our future. [click here to read the entire commentary by Ted Devine]

If the people sense that their voice has been suppressed and their wisdom shunned, they will cast off from the party.
If, in the selection process, the approximately 800 Superdelegates at the National Convention don't have the common sense to give complete consideration to how the people across the country have voted, there will be those of us who will declare that the party does not deserve our vote.

Even as I write, party leaders, like Howard Dean and former Vice President Al Gore are holding emergency meetings to figure out a way to head off this looming collision.

"The issues party leaders are grappling with, they said, include how to avoid the perception of a back-room deal that thwarts the will of millions of voters who have cast ballots in primaries and caucuses. That perception could cripple the eventual Democratic nominee's chances of winning the presidency in November, they said."
[NY Times story by Don Van Natta, Jr. and Jo Becker, 16 Feb 2008]

Why must the party constantly tear itself apart
These rumblings frighten us! It must just be a rule of thumb for the party that it has to tear itself apart before every national election – doing so right in the clear view of the opposition party. The Republicans take great delight in our public immolations.

This business of the party tearing itself apart is not a joke or over-statement. I've seen it happen all too often. Ezra Klein, a blogger at The American Prospect, states it perfectly.

"Put another way: If Hillary Clinton does not win delegates out of a majority of contested primaries and caucuses, her aides are willing to rip the party apart to secure the nomination, to cheat in a way that will rend the Democratic coalition and probably destroy Clinton's chances in the general election. Imagine the fury in the African-American community if Barack Obama leads in delegates but is denied the nomination because the Clinton campaign is able to change the rules to seat delegates from Michigan, where no other candidates were even on the ballot, and from Florida, where no one campaigned. Imagine the anger among the young voters Obama brought into the process, and was making into Democratic voters. Imagine the feeling of betrayal among his supporters more generally, and the disgust among independents watching the battle take place on the convention floor. Imagine how statesman like John McCain will look in comparison, how orderly and focused the Republican convention will appear.

"This demonstrates not only a gross ruthlessness on the part of Clinton's campaign, but an astonishingly cavalier attitude towards the preservation of the progressive coalition. To be willing to blithely rip it to shreds in order to wrest a nomination that's not been fairly earned is not only low, but a demonstration of deeply pernicious priorities -- namely, it's an explicit statement that the campaign puts its own political success above the health of the party and the pursuit of progressive goals, and one
can't but help assume that's exactly the attitude they would take towards governance, too."
read the entire Ezra Klein blog]

Florida and Michigan are out!
No changing rules in the middle of the competition! Hear us on this. The voting members of the Democratic Party in Michigan and Florida were NOT given the opportunity to hear from all the candidates and to express their choice. Having been told ONE THING many voters chose not to go to polls because their votes would not count. Now we cannot tell them ANOTHER THING and give those delegates to any candidate following such a faulty election process. It is this kind of "stuff" that our party has always opposed and stood up against. We would show our hypocrisy if we pull any shenanigans with these two states. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has spoken out strongly about not playing late, little tricks with the Florida and Michigan vote. She's definitely worried about a grass roots bolt from the party.

Howard Dean must stand for fairness!
Of all people, sir, we expect this of Howard Dean. He must not let us down on this one or we will deposit him on the towering dumping pile of failed Democratic Party chairpersons.

Is Hillary "carving her way to the nomination through the heart of the Democratic Party?"
That's what Josh Marshall says in his Talking Points blog of 15 February 2008.

"This also points to an argument I tried to make in today's episode of TPMtv. The Clinton camp's superdelegate gambit is not only audacious. Far more than that, it is simply unrealistic. The superdelegates who are gettable for Clinton by loyalty, conviction or coercion are already got. And enough's been seen of both candidates for
everyone to be more than acquainted with them. The ones who remain -- who make up roughly half the total -- are waiting to see who the winner is."

The people must demand nothing less than absolute fairness!
All of us, who toil on the bottom level of the party, must demand fairness. Here are some ideas about what YOU can do to get involved in this important problem. Be clear and forceful on this. Don't sit back and be apathetic! Do the following…

Sign the petition against allowing the Super Delegates who would steal the nomination from the people!
You can go to Democracy for America and sign its petition to the Democratic National Committee to prevent Super Delegates from deciding this convention. I've already done it. Democracy for America is pushing a strong effort against the Super Delegates along with Move On, which also has a petition one can sign.

Send your story about why you support Barack Obama to the Super Delegates!
The Obama campaign is asking supporters to send their stories about why they support Obama to the Super Delegates. They've made it easy. Log on to this special page and send your story to the Super Delegates.

Then, you can send letter or emails to the following or give them a call and leave a strongly worded message about your feelings (if you need some ideas, a copy of my message is at the end of this blog):

Howard Dean, Chairman
The Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
202-863-8000 (phone)
Email Howard Dean:

Representative Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Email Speaker Pelosi:

U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Email Senator Reid:

Lottie Shackelford, Vice Chair
The Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
202-863-8000 (phone)
Email Ms. Shackelford:

Linda Chavez-Thompson, Vice Chair
The Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003
202-863-8000 (phone)
Email Ms. Shackelford:

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota)
302 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-3244 (phone)
202-228-2186 (fax)
Email Senator Klobuchar:

Don't let the Democratic Party big-wigs steal this nomination from the people!
Here's the message I sent.

Dear Chairman Dean:

Those of us at the grass-roots of the Democratic Party are beginning to worry that our voices in the nomination process are not going to be heard. Rumors abound that the big-wigs and super-bosses will really make the decision at the convention without giving consideration to the way the people voted all over our nation. You should be aware that many of us will boycott the November election if we sense that our voices are ignored. The primaries must not be treated as if they didn't count.

We are also concerned about changing the rules in Michigan and Florida after the competition has started. That would be unfair. Not all our candidates campaigned in those states because of the restrictions imposed by the party. Many people did not
vote in those primaries because they thought their vote would not count. These
delegates must not now be turned over to any one of the candidates.

Please assure us that you are listening to the voices of those of us who make up the foot soldiers of the Democratic Party.

Charles H. Leck

15 Copeland Road
Maple Plain, MN 55359-9537

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