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About the protesters at the RBC meeting

Leah sends me this link where, amazingly, Mark Benjamin of Alex Koppelman War Room in Salon does -- and to think I thought the art had died out -- some actual reportage. Read as an antidote to whatever else the OFB and our perfumed stenographers write about the RBC protesters:

But if you just walk up to the protesters and ask them why they are there, the people who traveled from across the country that I talked to said they were angry because the Florida/Michigan debacle gives them sinking feeling that that America democracy is broken. Clinton didn't pay their bus fare, or even tell them to show up, they said.

"We are here because we want every vote counted," said Wesley Taylor, who traveled by bus from Coral Springs, Florida to air his bad feelings. Taylor, who voted for John Edwards in the primary, served 14 years in the Army, including service in Bosnia. "I didn’t fight not to have my vote counted," he said.

"It is not democracy," complained Debbie Kubiak, 52, who traveled from Buffalo, N.Y. "It is worse than what they did back in 2000."

The black limousines passing through the protest crowd on the way to the meeting only contributed to the feeling among the people shouting "count our vote" that, like 2000, the votes of individual citizens are being discarded and American power is being divvied out in smoke-filled back rooms.

A professor of politics will explain over a three-hour lecture why these people just don't understand the brilliance of the American electoral system. But they seem honestly angry with the Supreme Court in 2000. They are angry with the Electoral College. They are angry because they think that the each vote should count and the voters should pick the president.

Imagine that.

Superdelegates? All of a sudden we are hearing about them. Who are these people?" asked Sharon Miley, a 66-year old woman who traveled by bus from South Bend Indiana. "I've been voting since I was 22. This is the first time I felt like my vote did not count," she said.

"It is the whole system," added Phyllis Steele, who came along with her. "It is not democracy any more."

The Democrats may have good reason to punish Florida and Michigan for moving up their primaries. Perhaps they think in the long run, it will be better for the primary process and democracy. But they are doing a rotten job of explaining it to people.

"They travel by bus" is today's equivalent of Jesse Jackson's "they work every day."

With this difference: They're not "just" working, but taking the bus to show their support for democracy. Yes, imagine that.

If Clinton is imaginative and smart -- and the Democrats are smart enough -- they'll figure out how to leverage this moment.

Travel by bus? I know what they mean. And sometimes, the contrasts couldn't be greater.

UPDATE Author corrected, hat tip Leah.

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becca's picture
Submitted by becca on

The Party of Black Limousines-that is what the dems have become. Boy, we have really lost our way.

RedQueen's picture
Submitted by RedQueen on

The Democratic party is run by Republican tools

Voter disenfranchisement is a Republican tool. Don't be a Republican tool!

Pat J's picture
Submitted by Pat J on

This "unity" they just described, how do they propose this is supposed to all work out? We have just witnessed a hijacking worthy of Tony Soprano on behalf of Obama along with a reduction of 4 delegates for Hillary. When people take a bus in order to be heard they are displaying a passion that will not easily evaporate come November. Mine won't. I will never vote for this man who has taken a page out of the book of Bush/Rove in how to manipulate and twist your way into a nomination. I do not want to see this man as president. Virtually unworthy.

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

This is a bad day for the Democratic Party, I suspect it'll be remembered.

Could they all be any more flat-footed?

Cello's picture
Submitted by Cello on

I think Atrios, who has refused to take sides in the primary, said it best:

There's no grand principle at stake here and I have no interest in listening to people pretend that there is. The primary system is a weird hybrid of things far removed any concept of "one person one vote." And it isn't really a public election the way, say, voting for your Congressman is an election. It's a contest whereby members of a club choose the leader of that club, who then goes on to participate in a real election.

People are making a bigger deal out of this thing than it deserves to be. Even if Clinton got everything she asked for, she'd still have lost the nomination.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

the idea that the democratic nomination is just some 'private club', and not an actual and intrinsic part of the ONLY way that average americans can have ANY say in who our choices will be in november is, well, its pathetic.

And the best way to get someone to concede to you gracefully is to give them everything they want, and then beat them fair and square.

This was corruption. And the only reason I can see for the need for this kind of corruption is that Obama can't win any other way. He can't AFFORD to honor the will of the voters in Florida and Michigan.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

the motives of HRC and Obama may be less than noble, that does not alter the fact that there was a important principle at stake.

It is just too easy to say both sides are at fault and not care. Another step was taken towards the destruction of American Democracy.

sigh

I really don't know what to do

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

But his point is stupid either way. Sure, technically, this is a contest in a "club". But that club is a political institution that many people hold very dear to them. They consider their vote precious. The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the world. It's become very important to a lot of people. Choosing the party's standard shouldn't be just a bit game.

That anybody should be blind to the feelings of millions of Americans concerning this is astounding.

Cello's picture
Submitted by Cello on

Just curious, DCblogger, did you think American Democracy was being destroyed back when the rules committee (including all Clinton supporters) decided that the Florida and Michigan delegations were going to be sanctioned? You know, before the primaries, back when your opinion (and others like it) could have made a difference?

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

I am too lazy to search it out, but Wampum blog wrote a brilliant history of the FL and MI situations, documenting that the Republicans backed the Democrats into these early primaries. In the FL case was a poison pill meant to defeat a measure to get rid of the vapor voting machines. Wampum is one of the most underated blogs in lefty blogosphere.

I didn't pay much attention until February. This has nothing to do with how you feel about any given about an particular candidate, it has to do respecting voters. These primaries were the only opportunity these voters had to express their preference, and they were stripped of that vote.

It truly breaks my heart.

Cello's picture
Submitted by Cello on

Phat, if you're trying to suggest that the Democratic party has ever relied much on small-d democracy to select its Presidential nominees, then you're wrong. It's only been in recent history that the party's nomination has had much to do with the will of its members. For most of its history, the party's nominee has been selected by party bosses. We still have vestiges of that system in the form of superdelegates. (Interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton doesn't seem to have a problem relying on the un-democratic superdelegates to put herself over the top. But when two states are sanctioned for violating the rules, democracy is suddenly sacrosanct. How convenient. And hypocritical.)

cenobite's picture
Submitted by cenobite on

Interestingly enough, Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to have a problem relying on the un-democratic superdelegates to put herself over the top.

And neither does Sen Obama, so please stop with the endlessly repeated Axelrod blastfax bullet-points.

Swift Loris's picture
Submitted by Swift Loris on

to deprive Florida and Michigan of their votes, nobody thought the race would be this close or last this long. If they'd had a presumptive nominee a lot earlier, as they expected, Florida's and Michigan's votes wouldn't have made any difference, so the issue of disenfranchisement would have been academic.

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

I did argue against the sanctioning of Florida and Michigan. I thought it was a terrible mistake at the time. I wasn't supporting Clinton at that time either.

I know full well the history of primaries in the Democratic Party, so please spare me the lectures.

The point is that no matter the rules or the history, people now perceive their vote in the primary dear to them.

I've experienced the agony of people who couldn't make it to the caucus in Nebraska firsthand. The helplessness and in some cases the rage was overwhelming.

You may want to discount their feelings. But I think that's a mistake.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Then why is Obama fighting seating the delegates? That's what I don't get.

I heard a lot of Obama folks saying the word Unity today at that hearing. Well, what is he willing to do to get it? Apparently not a damned thing.

If none of this matters in the nominating contest, then Obama looks even worse, IMO. Because he sent people today to tell two states he needs in November to go fuck themselves and tell Democrats* who think it's important that all votes be counted to go fuck themselves (and whose votes he'll also need in November). And it doesn't matter to the outcome. He's supposed to be the Unity candidate? Sounds more like a divisive prick.

* Not all democrats who think it's important are Hillary voters, but even if they were, that's half the party. Or actually, more than half the party if you go by votes. And yet, according to you, he can't throw them a meaningless bone that would make them feel better about voting for him in November. And I bet you're going to blame Hillary if the party doesn't unite around Obama, aren't you?

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

he could have done the right thing, look magnanimous, and still come away with more delegates.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

cello says

atrios said

this:

"The primary system is a weird hybrid of things far removed any concept of “one person one vote.” And it isn’t really a public election the way, say, voting for your Congressman is an election. It’s a contest whereby members of a club choose the leader of that club, who then goes on to participate in a real election."

i hope not.

if so,

atrios said a genuinely dumb thing.

an election is when people go to voting places and vote.

if i go to my local voting site and vote for obama or kucinich, am i am not participating in a "public election"?

of course i am.

of course, my fellow citizens think they are too.

who gave atrios the authority to determine that when we do so, we are not participating in a "public election"?

what atrios is referring to, i would guess, is that there are caucuses and there are primary elections. the caucuses are weird. the primary elections are not. that should not be too hard for atrios to distinguish.

by the way, cello,

atrios is NOT neutral in the obama/clinton conflict.

he just does not publicly state his preference. he is just one of a number of obama supporters who do the same.

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

It's O/T I suppose, but I'm going to write this here.

The day of the caucus I got a call from a guy who wanted to go to the caucus. He didn't know where he was supposed to go, since his caucus location was not the same spot as his voting location.

I gave him his caucus location and then he asked me if I could find him a ride there. I told him I'd do my best and call him back.

I did some work trying to find him a ride, but by that time, the party activists were all at their locations and I couldn't find anybody for him.

He called me back, desperate to get a ride. He had spent some time talking to his wife, who had the car and was working at McDonald's. She had begged her boss to get the time off to go to the caucus but her boss wouldn't relent. Eventually, this guy had walked, several miles, to get to the McDonald's and get the car. He got to his caucus location and lo and behold, the doors were closed. He was too late. I sat at my desk taking phone calls like this for hours. I tried to get people to their caucus and I couldn't help all of them.

This guy just wanted his voice to be heard. He was very upset about this whole thing, and I don't blame him.

I haven't told this story to too many people, as I wanted the caucus to succeed. After the Nebraska primary I wonder if he voted.

I wonder if he'll ever vote again.

I wouldn't blame him if he didn't.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

who gave atrios the authority to determine that when we do so, we are not participating in a “public election”?

Atrios does not pretend to have such authority, he is just giving his view of the matter.

Atrios is a genius phrase maker and the most brilliant media critic anywhere

He also does brilliant work in making economics accessible.

I understand why he prefers Obama. I change my mind on an hourly basis.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

it's not o/t at all.

it's a good story for these times.

it's right at the heart of this dnc debacle -

people care about voting,

and they expect to be listened to.

reminds me of another story of this day:

the lady interviewed by the media who said that said she had paid for her own bus ticket to get to the dnc meeting in d.c. today.

and the dnc

gives these passionate folks the "dnc brush off"?

dumb politics.

we just don't know right now

who and what is really driving this process.

MBW's picture
Submitted by MBW on

I'm not a Clinton supporter, but today, I left the Democratic Party. I, who have been paid field staff on nearly every Presidential election since 1988, an executive on the state's largest city committee, a delegate to the state convention, and a candidate for the legislature, among numerous other things. I left the party which always claimed that counting all the votes mattered. Yes, while it's true that the Democratic Party can decide its own nominee, through divine intervention if desired, that's not the party with which I registered. If rules are suddenly arbitrary in the Democratic nomination, then, well, aren't they always arbitrary?

I'm considering how to create a Progressive Independent party. Anyone else game?

Pat J's picture
Submitted by Pat J on

Someone could really clean up by making bumper stickers reading: "I Am Another Harriet". Many of us feel her pain and outrage.

tnjen's picture
Submitted by tnjen on

...in November. Gee, I wonder how that will work out? Ickes, was dead on today -- great violence was done to the rules and by extension the heart of our party, today.

Cello's picture
Submitted by Cello on

Atrios was referring to the fact that party nominating processes are not small-d democratic and never have been. Keep in mind that political parties are free to select their candidates in any way they like. There's nothing in the Constitution that says they have to directly elect their nominees. That was the point Atrios was making, and he's right.

This is not to say that the process shouldn't be more democratic. We've come a long way in just the past few decades; we're much more democratic about selecting nominees than we were just 30 or 40 years ago. Still, we have a long way to go. Caucuses are not democratic; superdelegates are not democratic; and elections with only one name on the ballot are not democratic.

None of this would be at issue if this race wasn't so damned close. Because of the closeness of the race, each side is going to feel slighted at one time or another; I know I have. But someone has to win, and that person has to come out of this process ready to take on McCain. As bad as some Democrats feel about Obama or Clinton, McCain is 20 times worse than either one of them. The stakes this year are just too high.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Duncan witness an act of utter political corruption, and wants everyone to pretend that its no big deal... its just a 'private club' or whatever.

suddenly, all these people who once (supposedly) cared about this kind of thing are telling us to get over it.

I'm not getting over Florida in 2000. I never will. I don't WANT TO get over it.

And I'm not getting over this. I don't want to get over this.

Because, when you start 'getting over' this kind of crap, you can get over anything.

kc's picture
Submitted by kc on

Watching these proceedings I felt like I was in the twilight zone. And could not help but conclude that winning is not a DNC priority.

Unfortunately, every additional minute that these committee members pretend to be important, people in this country are dying--from a lack of basic health care, from an NRA that owns the White House, no enforcement of OSHA regulations, and on and on and on...

Personal note--my sister and close friend called me when their decision was reached tonight. So angry they were crying, and I felt the same way.

phat's picture
Submitted by phat on

But I'm still bothered by this

"There’s nothing in the Constitution that says they have to directly elect their nominees. That was the point Atrios was making, and he’s right."

He most certainly is right. But that's not the point. The point is that millions of people consider their vote in the primary to be important. And they should. It is important.

I'm not willing to discount their opinion. And I think discounting them the way he does is possibly dangerous.

If the Democratic party doesn't stand for enfranchisement and openness, especially in it's primary race, then I'm afraid we've got a problem.

It just seems like a bad idea to tell people that the party doesn't care to hear their concerns. If these concerns came from a tiny minority in the party it would even then be a problem. I don't believe that is even the case.

Strategically, I think, this whole process hurts us, let alone the principles of the deal. And of course the principles are tied to the strategy. Imagine that!

Bluegrass Poet's picture
Submitted by Bluegrass Poet on

that can select its nominee any way it wants to without the consent of its members, then as a member of the club, I feel no obligation of loyalty to support the candidate they front in the general election.

Obviously they can do this thing because they have done it. There are lots of things I can do, but I have to face the consequences of doing them.

Even so the DNC.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

choose and maintain the polling places, states have laws that must be followed in primaries, states set the primary/caucus dates---states!

these are not private elections nor are they private clubs--states and laws are involved every step of the way.

Submitted by hipparchia on

that hybridization of the public and the private, especially since the end result is ultimately a public matter, and a hugely important one at that.

horseloverfat's picture
Submitted by horseloverfat on

That is the distinction between a "primary" and a "caucus." A primary, state pays for it and sets the rules. A caucus, party pays for it and controls it - for example, New Mexico caucus that looks like a primary, secret ballot etc.

Horselover Fat

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

certified by states, and held in state-approved places, and subject to the same state and federal voting rights laws, etc?

horseloverfat's picture
Submitted by horseloverfat on

That's what I do not understand about Michigan. The uncommitted delegates were certified by the state, after a state controlled election, so how does the DNC substitute Obama delegates? Violates DNC rules theway I read them.

Horselover Fat

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

atrios:

he's been at it a long time

he's always there to comment.

he's employs sarcasm well and frequently.

i found, though,

that reading atrios on a daily basis

was just like trying to listen to the old emerile lagasse cooking show on the food network.

it doesn't take long - a couple of months or so-

before the incessant repetition of verbal mannerisms wears very thin with me

and seriously detracts from the substance.

black or lagasse,

i can get the same info

presented more to my liking elsewhere.

but both have their loving legions of fans.

carissa's picture
Submitted by carissa on

Then how come they let anyone vote? In open primaries and caucuses, same day registration is the norm. If it is a private club, why no requirement to at least have been a member of that "club" for a particular length of time? Why no requirement that "members" at least have a passing knowledge of the club's platform and goals?

Atrios is nuts.

MBW - I'm with you for a Progressive Independent Party. My blog email is good.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

The Democratic Party went all the way to the Supreme Court to establish the clear constitutional right to conduct its own affairs as it sees fit. It is a private club. All of the power rests with the upper heirarchy. It isn't as though they've kept it a secret. How anyone could feel otherwise is incredible.

The Powers of the Party put a nice suit of clothes on the political pig, made it look all handsome. Made it so people who want to have a voice can make it known and feel like it matters. That it was all taken seriously is, well, charming, really, but doesn't change the fact that this is an insider's club. They like your money, and your enthusiasm. They'll even, most of them, be polite. But they aren't sharing the power. If you want some, you'll have to take it.

No democracy is happening here. If anyone thought so, they were mistaken. Now you know. Your eyes are opened. You know the truth. You're welcome.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

(Apologies for my ignorance)

How does the Party prevent such an abuse of power, including the breaking of their own rules? Is there even a way for fellow Party leaders to keep them honest?

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

bringiton -

this is what corrine wrote that atrios wrote -

[ There’s no grand principle at stake here and I have no interest in listening to people pretend that there is. The primary system is a weird hybrid of things far removed any concept of “one person one vote.” And it isn’t really a public election the way, say, voting for your Congressman is an election. It’s a contest whereby members of a club choose the leader of that club, who then goes on to participate in a real election. ]

the dem party is private, so is the repub; we could not have it otherwise.

if so, the state would control who runs the state.

even in the ussr, the party controlled the state, not the other way around.

but that's not the issue.

the issue is atrios' claim that:

"... it isn’t really a public election the way, say, voting for your Congressman is an election."

is wrong.

party elections are public elections.

that's what voters understand and that's what they expect.

people voting in those elections expected their votes to be counted fairly as in any other state sanctioned election.

the "privacy" of the democratic and republican parties and the decisions of the u.s supreme court are irrelevant to the central issue.

what is relevant is what voters understand and expect.

arguments otherwise are, to borrow a phrase from a fellow commenter,

"black limousine democrat" thinking.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

No, as far as it makes any sense the way the question is framed. The "rules" are, essentially, whatever they are construed to be, and that is determined by the balance of political power. Those who have the power make the rules.

What we saw on Saturday was a shift in power on the Rules and Bylaws Committee from an apparent Clinton majority to a new Obama majority. There was no good reason to take any Michigan delegates away from Clinton; Obama will likely get enough to become the presumptive nominee regardless. The reason it was done was because it could be done. It was a public expression of political dominance. Misplaced, and in my view crude and rude and prone to blowback, but then that will be Donna Brazile.

The rules as published are tools for those in power, used to subjugate those who have less. They are also used to exclude from power those who have none. That would be me, and I'm guessing you, and pretty much everyone else who hangs around here. Just the way it is. They are useful to know, sort of like the rules of baseball are useful to know. And just like in baseball, if the umpire calls "Strike Three" you're outa there whether the pitch was over the plate or a foot outside.

Fussing around about the delegate rules, as I've done along with everyone else, is very much like understanding the infield fly rule. Once you get the hang of it, everything seems more orderly and you can hang around and talk about it for hours. In the end, though, somebody else with actual power makes the judgment calls and those are where the real rules are.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

to not take power. Maybe a hundred thousand, I've lost track.

I'm pretty much exclusively interested in finding ways to take hold of some. Any ideas, stop back by.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

The primaries are not the same as a general election. The total number of people suffering under the delusion that they are the same makes no difference to the reality.

I understand that a lot of people are upset at finding out they haven't got the role they thought they had. Sobering, and disappointing, and painful, but good for you. The truth is always good for you.

"what is relevant is what voters understand and expect" Please provide a concrete example, with link, to support this claim.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

determine the procedures (open, closed, whatever), enforce polling place laws, etc-- and officially certify the results?

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

the state's not involved--i can't think of any private organization's elections entwined and wholly subject to state rules and laws and courts the way primaries are.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Basically to take power: 1) don't give them what they want (votes, money, good will), 2) inflict pain (electoral, financial, bad press) and 3) push an alternatives (ideas or candidates).

We could talk about how to put these in action, but it won't matter unless you're willing to pay the price. Because you never take power without paying a price. That's what they count on. That I will give them my time, money and vote no matter what they do because the GOP is worse. That I won't inflict pain by backing a more progressive primary challenger because it means risking a lost seat to the GOP. That I won't protest in Denver because it would be "divisive" and hurt the party in November.

This is why Donna Brazile is still a leader in the Democratic Party. Because if you always put the party winning over taking power in the party, you will never get power. Any struggle over power automatically puts the party at risk of losing whether it's a city council seat or the presidency. And every year will be the wrong year to take that risk because the stakes will be too high. So the risks never get taken and the power never changes hands.

Of course, with the Democratic Party even when you are a good little girl and give them what they want because you care more about winning than taking power, you're still likely to lose. Because as that protester said, these are the idiots who have given us 2 winners in 40 years. But shut up and support what they do or else the GOP might win and we cannot have that. Unless of course they fuck up and that's what we get, then they did the best they could and you need to shut up and support their next loser in 2012. Because the stakes will be too high after so many years of GOP rule. We cannot let McCain get re-elected. So vote for Bayh/McCaskill and like it. DNC Chair Donna Brazile says uniting behind the ticket is the most important thing and will carry us to victory in November.

Submitted by hipparchia on

that 2 winners in 40 years is right on the money too.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

They don't run the actual primaries. Any group can conduct the primary, by ballot, by caucus, by convention, or by any combination thereof, as long as it meets the rules. State and territorial governments are the common entities for arranging ballot elections because they have the mechanisms already in place. Some states require that they conduct all elections, but those laws are probably unenforceable. Caucuses are usually run by the state party apparatus.

Any process that meets the guidelines/rules of the Party can submit the results and get a ruling on their delegates; it doesn't have to be run by the state or the party. If the ruling is unfavorable from R&BC, they can petition to the Credentials Committee at the Convention.

IIRC, the last insurgent group seated by Credentials at a Dem Convention was in 1972 from Illinois, led by Jesse Jackson, and that one was hand-picked at a sham state "convention". They were seated by the McGovern-controlled committee to replace all of the duly-elected delegates beholden to Mayor Daley, who was considered untrustworthy. After 1972, the rules were changed so that it is functionally impossible for a grass-roots movement like McGovern's to wrest control from the Party elite.