Monday, July 21, 2008

Why being "on the ballot" is not enough

Sometimes something worth saying has to be said again.

I hope those who already understand what I write here will bear with me as I try to clarify for others who are trying to learn so much so quickly about the ways and wiles of the DNC, its rules, its use of its rules, and most significantly the difference between having a roll call vote with Senator Clinton on the ballot and having Senator Clinton in nomination for the candidacy before that roll call happens.

Let's start with an analogy. Baseball games often begin with some person designated to throw out the first pitch - indeed, George W. Bush did this for the first game of the Washington Nationals' first season in their new stadium. But throwing that "first pitch" did not make Bush a true pitcher, it added him to no team roster. That is is because the entire episode iwas completely symbolic, a ritual that had no consequences for the outcome of the particular game itself.

Similarly a person's name can be put on a roll call ballot at the Convention for purely symbolic reasons. Indeed from the time of the adoption of the McGovern Commission's proposed rules for electing a Democratic presidential nominee until this year, all such roll call ballots including candidates other than the eventual nominee were only symbolic.

Why were these past episodes only symbolic, with nothing at stake for choosing a Party nominee? Because in each past case the eventual nominee had arrived at the Convention already in possession of a sufficient number of pledged delegates to make the vote at the Convention irrelevant.

This year the Democratic National Party faces a situation it has never faced before. No candidate comes into the Convention with enough votes from the primary/caucus events to qualify automatically as the nominee. The McGovern Commission rules, which are in effect, technically turn choice of the nominee to the superdelegates.

But there are two steps to making sure that superdelegates have the opportunity to exercise the responsibility the rules grant them.
  • It is not sufficient for Senator Clinton's name to simply be listed on a ballot on which a roll call vote is taken.
  • It is necessary that Senator Clinton's name be put into nomination as nonsymbolic contender in the convention roll call voting process.
To return to the baseball field, for just a moment, it is not enough that Senator Clinton to throw out the first pitch (say by making a speech); she must be designated for the roster.

There are different ways for a candidate's name to be put in nomination. And a candidate offered nomination may decline it. He or she may also accept nomination but decline candidacy. It is not my place to judge whether Senator Clinton or Senator Obama should be willing to have their names placed in nomination or whether either should be willing to accept a candidacy determined by uncoerced, unpressured superdelegates.

As a rank and file Democrat, it is my place to to demand that the DNC provide Senator Clinton and Senator Obama equal opportunitees to decide to be nominees and to accept nomination if voted it at the Convention.

I do demand that - if you do too, you might want to help The Denver Group, a political action group formed specifically to make this demand heard loud and clear from Washington, DC, to Chicago, IL, to Denver, CO and to every single state where anybody cast a vote for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton with faith that her own Party would act according to its own rules and according to basic democratic principles which have for decades been championed by Democrats of all types.

That does not seem like too much to ask; indeed it seems ridiculous that a request must be made in the first place.


Anonymous mm said...

Thanks Heidi for taking the time to follow up on the clear explanation that you gave on Morning Q today. This is such an important difference for all of us to understand - being on the ballot as opposed to being nominated - that I personally think it can't be said often enough. Dr. Dean seems eager to pull the wool over the eyes of Democrats across the country by pushing our concerns aside and trying to reassure the voter that Hillary will be on the ballot. Unless we understand that being on the ballot doesn't mean a thing unless you are a nominee, then he will get away with the fleecing.

July 21, 2008 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger writeinclinton said...

The major news media write these days again and again that Barack Hussein should win over female vote of Hillary's supporters, see ABC for example. Hmm, I am not a female (sure!) wont vote for Obama-baby or McCain (again sure!) so ABC and the likes have counted me out. BUT NEVER COUNT OUT A CLINTON! You will see she will become a President next January. That's the point. In the meantime Barack can continue to inhale until the year 2016 and John to distance himself away from Bush until he founds himself in his Arizonian house.

Yes, I will write-in Hillary no matter what the ballot will look like on the Election day. Go on, Hillary!

July 21, 2008 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger democraticjack said...

This is perhaps the best rebuttal to Don Fowler and Ann Germond's email I've read. You went into their "playground" and dismantled their non-germane analogies with a legitimate cogent one of your own.
Great work, Heidi Li!

July 21, 2008 at 7:57 PM  
Anonymous sharmajee said...

It used to be said the game is n't over till the last out is made, now some people want that one player declare herself loser before even the first pitch is thrown. Heck, to extend the analogy they want to pretend that spring training stats should decide the winner! Were that to be so why have a convention in the first place? As other posters have said, DNC should be listening to what is being said here.

July 21, 2008 at 8:25 PM  
Anonymous waiting4hrc said...

I never understood the difference until you clearly explained it here, Heidi. Thank you.

ANY American, regardless of who they support, should want democracy and fairness to prevail. I agree that it is ridiculous that this is even an issue at all.

Is this the U.S. or 'President' Mugabe's Zimbabwe?

July 22, 2008 at 2:46 AM  
Anonymous Mirlo said...

May your words resound all over the great USA!

This would also be up to us, your many readers to spread your words wherever they have family, friends and aquaintances.

July 22, 2008 at 6:21 AM  
Anonymous Cindy said...

We so appreciate you here in Texas!
Many, many thanks to you and Marc Rubin.

July 22, 2008 at 9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heidi, thank you for all you are doing with the Denver Group. This issue is important and must be brought to the forefront.

Mary B

July 22, 2008 at 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... the esteemed Governor Dean stating that Hillary will definitely be "on the ballot" is another wink and nod, hoping that we'll go away?

Each time I think I cannot be MORE disappointed in the Democratic Party, our leaders do something else to demonstrate that - yes indeed - I CAN be more disappointed. From now on, when their lips are moving, I will just assume they are lying.

July 22, 2008 at 5:38 PM  

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