It’s not easy to challenge the King. It's not easy to be challenged.

Thanks for this guest commentary. My post on what happened at the Polk County Democratic convention is in progress. -promoted by desmoinesdem

Of course we don't believe in kings, but it's a simple way of trying to explain why the Polk County Democratic Convention yesterday was 12 hours long and threatened physical confrontations. Most of what I'm writing is from a Sanders campaign point-of-view, which views itself as somewhat insurgent against a Democratic Party which is established and organized.

A movement to change politics as it is makes its supporters enthusiastic, hopeful, sensitive, suspicious, if not more-than-a-little paranoid. Bernie Sanders, since his speeches in Iowa starting in the summer of 2014, has been fully engaged with a language and mindset that common people are excluded from politics, and as a result, from being able to improve their lives through fair government. The party best-suited by position and dogma to effect that change is the Democratic Party - which is a problem, because Senator Sanders, like many of his supporters, aren't what would be considered loyal Democrats by the Democratic Party.

I can't speak for all of the Sanders' supporters, but I consider myself a loyal liberal first, Democrat by virtue of the political environment second. We are, by-and-large, deeply unhappy with Neoliberalism and a Party that embraced some conservative ideas to the detriment of it's base and to the people of the country they claim to represent.

The Party, OTOH, doesn't understand why these people don't understand the sacrifices and compromises it's had to make to keep the country running, particularly since the other half of the duplex increasingly keeps trying to either stab them in the back every time they talk & their roommates keep trying to set fire to the building.

So we're not building a relationship with a solid foundation off the bat.

Sanders’ supporters aren’t idiots and have witnessed and participated in the Iowa citizen democracy before, but they’re inexperienced. They're hot-headed because they've got the vision, and they're mad because of the reasons stated earlier. They've been to maybe a couple of caucuses, but don't remember as much as they thought they did. We've got ideas, man.

Clinton's long-time party supporters are wary of these ‘new’ people. There's lots of new people, excited and motivated supporting Sec. Clinton, but the Party regulars are more or less in charge. They can manage to herd those cats. But between the history of the VRWC against Clinton, and the general vicious disparagement of Democrats in general, they’re not very accepting of criticism from people they've never seen or only marginally know from a few events. The Democrats are dependent on a vision of a life-long loyal Democrat, someone brought up in the fold, used and educated to the fine arts of politicking and (uh oh) compromise. Dealing with a bunch of new people that look at them suspiciously may be a bridge too far.

Now add razor-thin statistical results built on odd maths, paperwork and seemingly byzantine rules and resolutions. Party answers that sometimes were patronizing or condescending. Paranoia & rumor went unchecked in the preference groups. It's no wonder that post-caucus night debate and now the Party convention were shitshows of bad attitudes and hurt feelings.

The problem is no one’s gone out of their way to foster trust. The Iowa Democratic Party has been welcoming, wants to form a bond and bring these new people into the tent, but a relationship of trust and leadership is a different matter. With all due respect, sending out Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad to bond with the audience isn't going to be enough. You have to have thoroughly trained precinct volunteers. You have to be so transparent that you almost have to disappear. You have to put everything out there even if you feel redundantly naked and exposed. You're going to have to put up with some little assholes biting your exposed butt and deal with them fairly. And last, you have to scout the newbies and see whom has got some leadership, but you can't do like you used to, by asking how many doors have they knocked and how many envelopes they've stuffed.

Sanders' supporters have to get a hold of themselves and work the better angels of their natures - and yes, that includes getting a handle on some of the people in their preference group and either sidelining or inviting them to leave. It means keeping the focus on not the what the Party or the Hillary Campaign is doing This Time, but keeping your eyes on the real opposition - no more wild speeches from the podium or floor. Keep the lines of communication with the Party open and keep communicating, even when you feel like they're being inattentive, dismissive, or secretive. Try and meet the Hillary campaign's leaders and also learn who they are.

This is growing the Tent. This is accepting the Tent. It's messy, hurtful, difficult, repetitive, and never ending. But it's also worth it. Eyes on the prize, folks.

  • Yea, so . . .

    and then what happened? This post is as clear as mud.

  • Here's what happened.

    Too many Bernie voters didn't stick around and those that did kept shooting themselves in the foot.

    Each group had two tasks: Achieve an accurate count of the people now in your group, and elect delegates and alternates to the next two levels. (Fortunately, delegates elected to “district” conventions also go to the state convention, so that narrowed the impossible task a little.)

    The “accurate count” wasn’t difficult on the Clinton side. Blue-tinted “second alignment” cards were part of all the registration packets. We filled them out, counted them up, and rejoiced when our new number was 536. (I later learned by talking with several Bernie delegates that their group leader hadn’t known about these cards and achieved their count by many trial-and-error count-up-by-bodies type attempts. Their second count was a low 511.)

    We Hillary delegates guesstimated we’d have 115 to 120 delegate slots. We had over 200 wanna-be’s, based on how many people filled out little grey “I Wanna Be a Delegate” cards. But after many appeals to speed up the process and not put us to the time-consuming task of voting one by one on each person, we had roughly 150 delegates and 50 alternates. With strong agreement, we used random selection to pull 39 more people from the delegate packet and moved them to the alternate packet. (Truth is, alternates nearly always get seated, what with district conventions being 1] not local and 2] held on a lovely Saturday in late April.)

    Now, into our camp came a lovely parade of realigning delegates. Amid ceiling lifting cheers, Hillary Clinton picked up 6 of the 8 O’Malley delegates—AND a number of former Sanders delegates. (We would later see why these Sanders delegates became so utterly disaffected, when we rejoined the full many hours later.)

    Those hours?

    The Sanders contingent was flabbergasted at the jump in Hillary Clinton’s numbers. They simply couldn’t believe it. So they demanded a recount. By themselves.

    And we obliged.

    Dear Lord, we counted and we counted again. All 500-some of us filed out one by painfully slow one, as Bernie delegates oversaw the test of whether we were actually delegates at all (and not some sort of “ringers” who’d slipped in by the side door, I suppose).

    We stood in line and stepped out of the Valley High cafeteria as people with lists of real delegates checked our ID tags and marked us off a list of delegates. We waited in the lobby. We waited some more. We colonized the stairs because there were no seats. Hillary helpers brought us springwater. Then snacks. Then more springwater. At last everyone was checked for legitimacy—and that should have provided a number. Add up the checkmarks. (Yeesh.)

    But no. Bernie’s representatives blockaded re-entry to the cafeteria with tables, left a little slot like a cattle chute, and we filed back again, one by one, as four of them (FOUR!) counted us up.

    And we totaled—546!

    I would later learn from our delegate Tabatha that she had participated in a similar count of the Bernie people. They totaled—512.

    Both groups (with O’Malley’s people now redistributed, we were down to two groups) agreed to certify these counts.

    Then suddenly a RULES Committee person strode in to our space and announced that his committee and only his committee would make a third and final count. We objected. Strenuously. We’d been counted six ways from Sunday—and in ways guaranteed to be accurate, like countable checkmarks on delegate registration pages, countable blue cards, the Sanders’ people’s count.

    Oh no, it seemed the Sanders camp had objected to THEIR OWN COUNT and now, his committee’s count would be the only real count, and it would magically be accurate, even though we were crammed into that cafeteria like sardines and many tables with attached seats were jammed together with no aisles, and people were propped against walls and clustered randomly standing.

    He and his helpers counted and came up with 513. Simply put, they counted WRONG.

    Our leader announced that the Clinton campaign would be protesting this erroneous “third” count (which was actually and in real life, a fifth count, done by a far less accurate method).

    And it was 5:30 pm. We had started registering at 7:00 am.


    • Too many delegates!

      Why such a big convention? When every vote counts, it is too many to count. When it is a mere coronation, why would a thousand people bother to attend?

      • Polk County

        has about one-sixth of the population of Iowa and more than 170 precincts. So the convention is going to be big.

    • He Said, She Said

      This is why I didn't write the Bernie side. I wouldn't say everything in the account above is accurate (we're all human), but too many pieces existed that could be reinterpreted - even wholly imagined pieces could be wished into the timeline.

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