04.05.08

Preaching Unity versus Actual Unity

Posted in 2008 Primary, Central Texas, Commentary, Election 2008, Good Stuff, Presidential Election, Take Action, Williamson County at 3:39 pm by dembones

At last weeks’ Williamson county Democratic convention, there was no shortage of speakers regaling the audience on the virtues of unity. True, they were filling space created by an agonizingly slow credentialing process. Still, the amount of talk worked to increase rather than decrease divisiveness.

Frayed nerves and conspiracy theories were abundant. Whether there was justification is beside the point. It existed. To wish it away with lofty words was to refuse to address the reality of the situation. Understanding the reasons for the mistrust is a necessary step in overcoming it. Alike we are more than it seems.

Williamson county’s Democratic party is not a change resistant pro-Clinton enclave. Neither is it a revolutionary, crash-the-gates rabble of naive newcomers. Among the party’s executive committee members with a professed presidential preference, there is a 19-17 edge in favor of Obama. The three key convention officers (permanent convention chair, credentials chair and nominations chair), the breakdown was 1 Clinton, 1 Obama and 1 uncommitted.

In spite of this balance, depending upon whom you asked, there was favoritism for one side and obstructionism for the other. Honest mistakes were made into nefarious schemes. Like the convention chair’s address to the dwindling crowds in the early evening expressing concern over the continued persistence of quorum (later corrected when state party rules to the contrary were brought to his attention). Or the credentials chair’s announcement of presidential preference results including delegates’ and alternates’ votes (only delegates’ votes should count). Or the nominations committee nominating a handful who had already been elected in their precinct caucuses.

None of these blunders was intentional, and none impacted the final results. In the end, the voices of Democrats in Williamson county were heard. This is what they said:

  • The “Texas two-step” is one too many. Do away with either the primary or the caucus. [UPDATE:This may not be as unanimous as the author originally thought. Please see the comments. Can we at least agree that if the primacaucus is to remain, it should be tweaked to make it more efficient?]
  • They want a Democrat in the White House.
  • They want Democrats to vote for down the ballot. No more unchallenged Republicans.
  • Stony Point High School was a great host site.
  • Democracy is slow, messy and inconvenient. And there’s nothing better.

Wrought hands and gnashed teeth notwithstanding, there was actual unity at the Williamson County Democratic convention. Our numbers far surpassing the Republicans is significant. The call for change is clear. People want to have a say, and they’re willing to endure a lot to get a chance to speak. This is a turning point in the county’s political history. This blog is fortunate to have been among the first to predict it.

There is a long ways to go until November. Will the intensity be maintained all the way to the finish line? The Republicans will play their suppressive, dismissive, divisive game plan all the way through to the end. The question is, will it be enough to put out the fire that is burning in the hearts of the county’s voters? We certainly hope not. Actual unity is a lot more resilient.

2 Comments »

  1. BexarDem said,

    April 5, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    Thanks for your even-handed treatment. I’ve given up reading some blogs because of the nastiness against one candidate or the other. I want to be able to vote for either Clinton or Obama in November, but I’m appalled by how they bring out the worst in people. If Democrats aren’t ready for a woman or African American president, how can we expect the rest of the voting public to be ready?

  2. Georgetown Dem said,

    April 6, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    This is a good comment on the convention. One point I’d like to challenge, though. While the Texas Two-Step was odd, I didn’t necessarily see Democrats supporting the idea that we should “Do away with either the primary or the caucus.” At the end of the County convention at about 11 p.m., there was a resolution to eliminate the caucus. With about 300 people in attendance at that point, the voice-vote was overwhelming to oppose eliminating the caucus. There were only a handful who supported eliminating the caucus.

    The caucus process got more than 11,000 Democrats involved at the precinct level, and some 2,200 were willing to come to the County Convention. The value of that cannot be underestimated. On the other hand, an open primary can include many Republican sabotage votes, and there was widespread evidence of this going on March 4. There’s much less of that going on in a caucus. I think it is questionable that voting is somehow more democratic than caucusing, the latter of which is rooted in the American tradition of town meetings. I don’t know where the solution lies, and I’m not convinced that a caucus-only solution is best. But I think other Democrats see the value in the caucus process, and so I’m not sure an either/or choice is the only solution.

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