Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why did Sanders’ Delegates walk out after the Nomination of Hillary Clinton?

This is complicated, even for woodchucks, so if you wanted a sound-bite answer go back to whatever you were doing before you started reading.

Bernie Sanders personally asked his delegates not to do this but many of them did it anyway. There was no grand plan but there were many little plans. Some delegates told other they would walk out and suggested that we should all walk out. Other delegates reminded them that Bernie Sanders has asked us not to.

I personally expected that some delegates would walk out and that they would hardly be noticed; that people watching them go would think that they were going to the restroom, visiting a charging station, stretching their legs or getting something to eat. This is what we were told would be the effect of a walk out … that our absence not even be noticed … that our seats would be quickly filled by others who were on standby for just such a moment.

When it happened it caught me off guard. I noticed the departure of a few delegates who I expected to walk out but my attention was not on the delegates it was on the convention speaker. Then it hit me how many empty seats there were in front of me, behind me and everywhere.

Suddenly there was a reporter asking me if I was a Bernie delegate. I asked, “Why, are you having a hard time finding one?” She and I laughed.

I carpooled to the convention so I was quite concerned by the absence of my fellow delegates from the carpool. I wondered if I would be walking home.

I spotted one of my carpool delegates returning to her seat and that gave me a little comfort. Then another returned. He told me later that he had gone to the restroom and didn’t know there was a walk out until he came out of the restroom and saw the delegates crowding their way to the doors.

Two other delegates had gone off the floor to distribute some material about election integrity but they never intended to leave the convention in protest. My carpool delegates are still here and getting home isn’t going to be a problem.

Not all of the delegates that left were Bernie delegates. The nomination of Hillary Clinton was the key moment that many Clinton delegates were there to see. Once she was nominated, many of them left their seats to do other things as well.

That all being said, well over half of the Bernie delegation did in fact walk out and I believe most of them had not made the decision to do so until that very moment when they saw others who had predetermined to walk out leaving their seats.

None of this answers the question, “Why did Sanders’ delegates walk out after the nomination of Hillary Clinton?”

Sanders promised us a roll call vote and the Clinton delegation cooperated with the Sanders delegation in making sure that every delegate had an opportunity to have their vote counted and placed on the record.  Having your vote counted is very important. It doesn’t make loosing easier but it eliminates one objection to defeat and moves a person closer to acceptance.

While many of the caucuses and primaries were well managed, many more were not. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of voters did NOT get to have their vote counted in mismanaged caucuses and primaries. Many delegates feel that if not for these election irregularities Bernie Sanders would have brought more delegates to the convention; maybe even enough to have won the nomination.

Let’s not imagine every Sanders delegate feels the same way about these “irregularities”. Some are convinced that the better word would be “fraud”. Some are looking for answers through courtroom challenges and others through statutory reform. But nearly every Sanders delegate agrees that clean, fair and transparent elections are important AND that there were MANY irregularities in the management of 2016 caucuses and primaries.

I did NOT walk out but I refuse to say that those who did were wrong. They are desperately calling attention to issues that are very important. And even though we may be taking different paths to get there, our goal of making sure that every vote is counted is the same. I cannot for the life of me understand why every Democrat is not in some way supportive of the goal.

This woodchuck whistles.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bernie or Bust

This Woodchuck whistles for Bernie all day long! But I’m not sure if I am Bernie or Bust.

Let me be very clear about the jingle “Bernie or Bust”, I find that those who identify themselves as Bernie or Bust do not all mean the same thing and that those who hear the phrase do not all hear the same thing. Using the phrase to identify committed supporters of Bernie Sanders for President may have negative consequences for our relationship with individuals and groups that do understand its meaning differently than intended.

I will support Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States with my voice and, as a delegate to the national convention, my vote until the Convention has nominated its candidate.

Whether Bernie Sanders gets the nomination or not I will work after the convention to keep the spirit of the political revolution alive and to revitalize the democratic process beginning within the Democratic Party.

I support the Brand New Congress initiative that is being spearheaded by some former Bernie 2016 staffers and I am quietly working with some Bernie 2016 supporters here in Michigan to start something we are for the moment calling “A Michigan We Can Believe In”.

I believe that Bernie Sanders has said that he has no plans to run as an Independent or as a third party candidate for president and I do not support efforts to persuade him to do so or to write his name in on the General Election ballot. 

We can do so much more within the Democratic Party to revitalize the democratic process than we can ever hope to do as Independents or as a third party. The Democratic Party is a Big Tent. The door is open and there is lots of room in the tent.

It is my opinion that Bernie 2016 supporters will be much more effective social revolutionaries inside the Democratic Party than they would be outside of it. It is also my opinion that the energy spent forming a third party or marshalling a write-in campaign would be better spent laying a foundation for a truly progressive movement within the Democratic Party that would push out the worst and keep the best of what the Democratic Party is.

But let’s be fair, Bernie supporters are not all Democrats. His support base includes many passionate people who have no party affiliation and I don’t see any reason why they would feel the same way about supporting the political revolution from within the party.

And let’s not talk about Hillary Clinton and supporting or opposing her until after the convention. She is not the candidate and there is still a path to victory for Bernie Sanders. Hillary supporters should work to persuade Bernie supporters that she is a good second choice instead of working to shame Bernie supporters who continuing to oppose her nomination. And Bernie supporters should focus on promoting Bernie Sanders and his progressive message instead of obsessing over Hillary.

Should Hillary Clinton become the nominee, I understand that many Bernie Sanders supporters will not be able to give her their allegiance. I’m OK with that. The Big Tent is filled with Democrats who are not able to agree on every candidate and every issue. My own position is that I will not actively or publicly oppose the nominee of the party or any of its endorsed candidates or issues and I am not asking others who support Bernie Sanders to take any position stronger than that.

Again, let’s be fair, many Bernie Sanders supporters are not affiliated with the Democratic Party and shouldn’t feel any sense of duty to support or even refrain from opposing Hillary Clinton if she should become the candidate of the party.

Bernie Sanders has asked us for so much more than the nomination of the Democratic Party to be its candidate. It has never really been about Bernie, it has always been about the political revolution. When we say Bernie or Bust, let’s be sure that we are on the same page as Bernie and that revitalizing democracy is our single highest priority and that nominating Bernie and others with the same passionate views to be our candidates is just one of many important steps in achieving that goal.

If some supporters feel that they must take the political revolution outside the Democratic Party, that they need Bernie to be their candidate so they can keep the political revolution alive and strong or that they must oppose Hillary Clinton to the bitter end, I understand but I am not one of them … and I don’t think Bernie is either.