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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

 
An explanation of how the Platform kerfuffle went down

by David Atkins

So apparently after a day and a half of Fox News whining about the absence of "God" and "Jerusalem" in the party platform approved by delegates, the powers that be decided to reinsert language to that effect with a platform revision today moved by Ted Strickland. I was in the media tent at the time, not on the floor, but here's how it went down:



Note that the affirmative vote to approve the changes would have needed to be a two-thirds vote. And it's fairly clear from the audio that the ayes didn't even have a majority. And yet Chairman Villaraigosa ignored the will of the delegates and "in his opinion" gave it to the ayes. So how did this travesty happen?

Well, as a local county committee official I've had a few years' crash course in parliamentary procedure. Here's how it goes: Roberts Rules of Order gives the power of determining the outcome of a voice vote to the Chair. If the Chair cheats the outcome, the only recourse is an "Objection to the Ruling of the Chair." And here's that works:

Any ruling of the chair can be challenged, but such appeals must be made immediately after the ruling. If debate has progressed, a challenge is not in order. Although Robert's Rules of Order allow debate under certain circumstances, the practice of some groups is to allow no debate.
The problem here, of course, is that such an objection is only possible if the Chair recognizes the objector from the floor before moving to other business. If the Chair isn't playing fair, an immediate ruckus is required to prevent further business from occurring. But at a scripted convention, that's almost impossible. And that, in turn, gives the Chair of a scripted convention near-dictatorial power to overrule the will of majority. And lo and behold, this also happened during the RNC convention during which Reince Priebus did pretty much the same thing.

Which means that while these scripted conventions have the pretense of democratic process, in reality there is none. All of these decisions are made behind the scenes, with no possibility for the majority of delegates to change them. And that in turn raises the question: who decided to kowtow to the theocratic whiners at Fox News?

That may have been the view in Washington as well. Emailed a Democratic source: "The President personally intervened to strengthen the language."
We've got a long, long road ahead of us. One understands the political calculation (it's almost certainly about Jewish voters in Florida), but that doesn't excuse it.

None of which, by the way, is any excuse for not voting for the President in a contested state. Letting Romney win isn't an option. This is a battle we have to fight internally after we stop the plutocratic cultists from attaining absolute power.


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