I'm not one to criticize one party over another for the use of half truths and exaggerations. I think this is not the result of ideology, but of human nature. That been said, there are those rare moments that get recorded for posterity when we actually see a clear and undeniable fact be treated as something relative in order to serve a political purpose. Such a moment occurred Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention.
The press had made a big issue of the fact that the approved new national platform of the Democratic Party makes absolutely no mention or reference to either God or Israel. Was this an oversight or a strategic move to mark the differences between Democrat and Republicans? Whether it was one or the other became irrelevant as the powers that be decided the platform needed to me amended to include the following statements:
Statement #1 "We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."
Statement #2 "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths."
The video in the article I linked tells the story, but allow me to describe the scene. Both amendments were called to what seemed to be a perfunctory voice vote by the Convention Chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. As the parliamentary rules had to be suspended, and the request for presenting amendments had to be seconded, the floor had already shown through voice vote what a 2 thirds or more of the floor sounded like.
When the vote to approve the amendment was finally called for, the aye's were loud, but the no's were just as loud. Villaraigosa was clearly unprepared for such development and started to declare that the aye's have it when he stopped himself mid-sentence. To his credit, without missing a beat he call again for a vote, although this time speaking slowly as if some of the delegates had not clearly understood what they were voting for. The second time the no's sounded slightly louder than the aye's. Villarainosa was left speechless, visibly unsure of what to do next and started to look around for help. Eventually he called for a third vote. This time the no's were as loud as the aye's. The motion to amend the platform had been defeated since the motion required a 2 third majority to pass.
Enter the relativity factor. To the surprise of the floor, and a combination of a few applause and many loud boos, Villarainosa proceeded to announce that "In the opinion of the chair, 2 thirds have voted in the affirmative; the motion is adopted, and the platform is amended."
The Democratic National Convention platform adoption is supposed to be the time and place for the democrat constituency to express their opinions through their delegates. Voters speak and the politicians listen. That is not what happened Wednesday. Sure, the politicians already have a platform in place, but there is a reason they have a vote and allow for delegates to vote against a measure. The Chair shamelessly ignored the will of the delegates in order to impose what the leaders of the party had already decided needed to be done. The whole incident is embarrassing, to say the least. Republicans have already posted the video on youtube and I can only expect that it will feature prominently in a couple of republican political adds.
Politicians from all parties and ideologies fudge numbers and exaggerate facts. Sometime they even flatly lie about their accomplishments or policies. This has become so common place the we have fact-checkers giving the rest of us a rundown of the lies and exaggerations expressed by our esteemed representatives. But this is the first time I see the result of a democratic vote in an American political event stolen by the very people that are supposed to represent the voters.
Is this representative of Democrats as a party? I don't think so. I think it is representative of politicians. That been said, will most definitely come back to bite the democratic party on their collective behind. I can imagine undecided voters marginally leaning democrat, looking at this and deciding to reconsider their vote this coming November. I would like to know how different, if in any way, is the take of republicans and democrats regarding this incident.