Saturday, August 16, 2008

The most ridiculous arguments yet against a true election at the Democratic National Convention

Various pundits and pollsters have been claiming that logistics stand in the way of an "unscripted" - meaning authentically democratic - nomination vote. They put the point in various ways, but the basic idea comes down to claiming that because Senator Obama has already rented a football stadium or because the press has already been or will be told in advance what the drill will be, it is just logistically impossible to hold a roll call ballot where the outcome is not predetermined.

This is simply absurd.

I have complete confidence in television networks and print journalists managing to cover unpredictable events. They do it with sporting events, where the outcome of a contest is not known in advance. They do it with news-making events, which are quite often unpredictable (indeed, that is part of why those events are called news).

Another variant of this argument claims that, whatever the press's ability to cover a genuinely democratic nomination process, it is beyond the capabilities of the DNCC and the DNC to run one.

Given the lack of competence displayed by DNC leaders so far this nomination season, I have slightly more sympathy for this view. Nonetheless it is absurd.

The DNCC website and the DNC Call To The Convention specify the precise procedures to use in the event no nominee comes into the convention with enough pledged delegates to become the automatic nominee. The people running the convention can use the Party's own governance document to guide them as they implement these procedures. While it is always somewhat difficult to hold free and fair elections, there are many simple ways ballots could be held and tabulated in an orderly manner. Voting can be conducted electronically or simply by using a web based application and monitored by an impartial observer (akin to the role accounting firms play during the Academy award voting process). These are just general suggestions, of course. Details would have to be looked into and sorted out.

But I assure you that with over 10 days remaining before the day a roll call vote will be held, it is entirely possible for the DNC and the DNCC to resolve these details. Indeed, if they need assistance, I will happily volunteer my services as would, I am sure, the millions of Democrats, who regardless of their preference regarding the ultimate outcome of a fully democratic nomination process, know that only by using such a process does any Democrat have a chance of winning the White House come November.

As for that football stadium, well if it turns out that it won't be needed by Senator Obama and cannot be used by Senator Clinton were she to win and accept the nomination as a result of genuine and authentic vote on August 27th, the DNC's lease on the Pepsi Center does run through August 28th. It may be unfortunate for Senator Obama's campaign if it ends up having paid rent on space that will not be used, but that is always a risk when you count your chickens before they are hatched.

Finally, it is quite clear that as of this writing, the DNCC is still assuming that the predetermined outcome is firmly assured. Over on their website, they continue to state under the banner, INVESCO Field at Mile High Community Credentials, that on the fourth day of the convention we can "[s]ee Senator Barack Obama accept the Democratic nomination for President." So either the DNCC knows quite well that the roll call vote announced Thursday is a sham or they are not being updated by the powers-that-be that they might want to update their website. I am pretty sure the problem is not the latter one.


Blogger Andy said...

Heidi: thank you for you insightful post, as always.

My feeling is that there is far too much money at stake everywhere and " on everyone" at the DNC for the DNCC to leave things "at chance". Call me cynical but I believe they already know it is predetermined.

I have a question: will the convention center at pepsi be plastered all over in advanced with Obama's signature signs ???

Kind of hard for teh pledged delegates to cast an independent vote when you are surrounded by the other team drapped walls and stage and all that and NO banners or big wall signs of HRC's.

Do you know how this has been historically handled ??
I cannot remember...

I am sure Invesco Field will be drapped with the big O and all that
FAR in advance. But how about the Pepsi center?

August 16, 2008 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Edgeoforever said...

Of course it's a sham - they went as far to say that
“The convention is about nominating Barack, so his people want to speed through the vote as fast as possible so it won’t take too much TV time,” said a Democratic delegate who plans to vote for Clinton. “They also want to avoid a scenario where she’s leading at any point.”

August 16, 2008 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Aeneas said...

I've heard on CNN (I think) the comment by a pundit that... well... it's all scripted... how can we go off script, blah, blah, blah.

This was before I read your post; and my reaction was--say WHAT?

As I said a few posts ago, when this was first announced--it is rigged, it would be rigged, they will tray to rig it.

And because I am one of hte little people who doesn't know if I'm tricked or not by the big boys, as I said before, if Senatro Clinton is not nominated, I'll assume it was rigged and keep my vote home.

I am bitter and clinging. What can I say... and stubborn.

August 16, 2008 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Rose of Tralee said...

Heidi, this is a question for you and The Denver Group:
Assuming (I know, it makes an a** of u&me) that the roll call at this point is meant to be symbolic (that's how I see it on the MSNBC ticker), are there plans for what will happen if the DNC shows signs on the convention floor of not going through with a real roll call vote?
I have the impression this gesture was less in response to the petition than to avoid a big demonstration inside or outside the convention center. More and more, this reminds me of the 1968 convention - actually the whole primary reminded me of that year. Are they afraid of another Grant Park?

August 16, 2008 at 6:56 PM  

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