"Democratic Establishment’s Thuggish Power Grab at Nevada Convention"
Hillary Clinton, claiming to know nothing about the big news in Nevada
by Gaius Publius
UPDATE: There's an excellent, close, play-by-play description here. It comports with everything below, plus adds some of the intermediate events. It's also clear and readable.
The headline above is a quote from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism, and despite assertions to the contrary (which I'll link to below) I think she's right.
Some context: Nevada, like many states, has a three-tiered process on the Democratic side for picking delegates to the national convention. Delegate selection at the precinct level occurred on February 20 by caucus (into which Harry Reid famously intervened on Clinton's behalf). That produced a narrow Clinton win for delegates to the April 2 county conventions, the next level in the process.
At the county conventions, however, more of the precinct-elected Sanders delegates showed up than the Clinton delegates, and that produced a narrow Sanders win in the vote for delegates to the state-wide convention, the final tier. That convention is the one the fuss is about. (For more explanation of that process, see this from The Green Papers and scroll down.)
The problem for Clinton people was simple: how to control the state convention and send more Clinton delegates to Philadelphia than Sanders delegates. It appears they did it via rules changes ahead of the convention that gave state chair Roberta Lange considerable added power in the running of the convention; and then Lange using those, some say "dictatorial," powers at the convention itself to change the delegate split back to Clinton's favor.
Changing the Rules to Add to the Party Chair's Power
From a petition circulated online prior to the state convention and after the "new rules" were adopted:
[T]he convention rules voted on by the State Party last week are designed to concentrate all the power in the current party chair, and ensure that the voters and delegates have the least amount of influence on the party possible.Much more is alleged in the petition; feel free to read it in full. Note that it's also alleged that the meeting at which these new rules were adopted was without a quorum.
Last week Roberta Lange, the Chair of the NV Democratic Party, pushed through a set of rules that:
- Put her in charge of the state convention without a vote
- Give her the power to appoint every officer who interprets and enforces the rules
- Give her the power to appoint every member of the committees who count the votes and decide which delegates are registered, and;
- Give her the power to have absolute authority to decide which motions to recognize, who may speak, and to decide who the winner is in any voice vote.
Using "New Rules" to Rule the Convention
This set of rules seems to have set up Nevada Democratic chair Roberta Lange to conduct the state convention pretty much as she wished. Now Yves Smith (bolding mine below):
Democratic Establishment’s Thuggish Power Grab at Nevada ConventionI just want to remind readers that Clinton's real "idea of party unity" is this, via CNN:
Apparently annoyed at Sanders supporters having managed to take advantage of Clinton delegate candidate no-shows to obtain more spots, the Nevada state party put through rule changes weeks before the state convention that gave the meeting chair complete and arbitrary control of the final step in the delegate certification process. That in turn produced a convention that was entirely undemocratic in the small d sense, with some Sanders delegates who had won their positions via the then-existing rules being stripped of their standing. In addition, the meeting was run on authoritarian lines, with party members offering pro-Sanders motions having the microphones cut off and the meeting being terminated with motions still on the floor. Don’t buy Twitterverse claims that the meeting was run in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order; accepting a motion to adjourn without a second was one of many dubious procedures.
As Lambert remarked, “This is Clinton’s idea of a party unity strategy.”
Clinton took fresh aim at the Vermont senator as part of a three-part strategy before the New York primary on April 19: Disqualify him, defeat him, and unify the party later."Later" isn't here yet apparently. Along with other useful material (click to read it there), Smith embeds this helpful video from Dan Rolle, who attended. It's not that long, and it contains a pretty clear explanation of the problem both before and at the convention.
Keep in mind, the core issue is the decertification of a large number of county-elected Sanders delegates so that Clinton's delegate total would be greater. That caused a reaction that caused other conflicts.
Text from Rolle's YouTube page for this video (again, bolding mine):
Hi, I'm Dan Rolle. I'm a congressional candidate in Nevada. I made a quick video explaining the backstory behind the convention. It's too important to simply watch the videos and look away. You need to understand why it happened:From Rolle's conclusion in the video, I found this remarkably insightful:
Basically, N[V]Dems enacted some rules that were designed to give convention authority to the state chair. You can read about that here:
[Link to petition, same as above]
That group challenged these rules in court. That challenge was denied, essentially because the court didn't feel it should intervene in party politics.
Fast forward - The same group gets the requisite number of signatures to change these rules. Robert[a] ignores this, and enacts her rules:
You can see where she does this here:
Fast forward. Clinton wins by a few delegates, but over 64 delegates were rejected. By the board she chose. The argument is that with these votes, Sanders wins. Also worth noting, many were turned away because they simply could not find parking.
At the end of the convention, we motioned the party platform. I called for Roberta's removal here. My mic was cut:
Fast forward: The delegates are counted. Roberta denies a recount, closes the convention at her discretion. She then bolts off stage. This, while being flanked by police.
Most of the videos are here:
[Link to videos]
[W]e’re not talking about Hillary versus Bernie anymore. We’re way beyond that. ... We are talking about a state party, and a national party, that are willing to usurp fairness in order to have their way. And that’s too bad.As I wrote recently, the Democratic Party is teaching Sanders supporters hate the Democratic Party. What could go wrong ... in November, say?
Hubris? Yes, on steroids.
Cops and More Cops
By the way, here's what that mention above of police looked like from the convention floor:
The Nevada state Democratic Convention
Reminds me of this, from Occupy days:
Imperial Storm Troopers guarding a bank in Portland
Our future? Sure hope not, though I hear one of the Democratic candidates is pretty warlike.
Here are the dissenting voices I said I would include. So far, this is the best I could find on the substance (as opposed to the smears and charges of gracelessness). Feel free to sort this out for yourself:
- "What was the rule change in Nevada?" [link]
- "Only 8 Sanders delegates were denied credentials at NV Dem State Convention; no impact on result" [link]
So far, the counter-argument seems to be "you say they did, but no, they didn't," and has now been moved into the smearing realm — charges of thuggery against the Sanders side. Personally, I find the case Yves Smith laid out pretty convincing on the merits. If people were upset, there's reason for it. The Clinton people are playing a very heavy-handed game.
Again, hubris on steroids. The main Sanders argument is about reforming the Democratic Party to be "democratic" and weaning it from dependence on, not just big money donors, but Big Money itself. The main Clinton argument is evolving into "just get out of our way." Nevada, including the anti-Sanders smear that's taken hold in the pro-Clinton press, is yet another instance of that.
The Crossroad in Philadelphia
This won't end well. Any neutral observer can see that.
If Clinton's "disqualify, defeat, and unify later" approach continues, the crossroad in Philadelphia will be a crossroad from which no one can turn back. We're beyond who's right and who's wrong. The Democratic Party, with Clinton at the wheel, is driving 80 mph toward a wall, and yelling at the wall to step aside. Any neutral observer can see what's coming.
If you're a Sanders supporter, it's still not too late. Care to help him defeat the Ed Rendells and Wasserman Schultzes of the world? Click here, and thanks!