Father Knows Best?

Remember this 1950’s show with Jim, Margaret, Betty, Bud & Kathy (a.k.a., Kitten)? Well, that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I’m referring to is our Father Knows Best-style of Democracy, or so it seems to me, especially after having attended Democratic National Committee (DNC) Convention Delegate Training (more info at http://www.georgiademocrat.org) in Roswell, GA this weekend. I was all at once stunned, amazed and yet not-so-pleasantly surprised by the complex process through which our delegates and in turn our presidential nominees are selected, yep vs. elected. I’m also immeasurably delighted that the presidential election process has become an integral part of everyday conversation for many Americans, at a detail level that I suspect is unprecedented. This type of engagement brings me much hope for the future of our great nation. At the same time, my initial assessment of the DNC Convention Delegate Selection process is that it is a kinder, gentler version of the paternalistic Electoral College.

I have long, well at least since 2000’s stolen presidential election, thought that the College should be eliminate due to its lack of relevancy. After all, we’ve come a long way since 1776, with an estimated 99% U.S. literacy rate (source https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/print/us.html) & 20th Century Information Age ubiquitous media outlets & forums like CNN, C-SPAN & YouTube. I get that the Founding Fathers were concerned that an uneducated citizenry might do itself unnecessary harm by virtue of its ignorance, more so than its innocence; this telling turn of phrase was a gift from noted Artist, Art Historian & Curator David Driskell during a panel discussion at The High this weekend, more on that in another blog later. But why would we need any process that 2nd guesses the popular vote in this 21st Century?

The GA Congressional District 6 Delegate Training was well executed, with pithy PowerPoint handouts, knowledgeable presenter Anne Bartoletti , helpful & humorous registration manager Melissa Pike & sage Chairperson Ben Myers. What did trouble me, though, was the seemingly convoluted process, complicated even more in 1982 by the layering in of Public Pledged & Elected Officials (PLEOs), more commonly known as Superdelegates. These include former presidents, like Jimmy Carter (& in NY, Bill Clinton), GA Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond, Congressmen John Lewis and David Scott, and a few others. But let me just stay with the regular delegate election process.

Yep, I said election. So as a registered voter, you and I can make application to become a delegate to the Convention in August, then run a campaign to be elected by our fellow state congressional district voters, whom we can lobby to come and support us in April. BTW, we anticipate this April session will be an all-day affair this year, given the number of applicants and excitement around the primary elections. If we don’t make that cut, then there’s the At-large delegate posts for which we can run.

This delegate election process involves all sorts of sophisticated maneuvering. Although delegates PLEDGE their support to only one potential nominee, we’re told it’s like promising to get married in that we may change our minds once at the Convention this summer in Denver. Our gender and ethnicity, as well as district-by-district delegate and alternate slots are all taken into account. Whew, just the thought of it makes my head spin.

All this willy-nilly stuff when we have the popular vote results from the primaries. If a state’s included in the primaries, why does it send delegates anyway? Why not just be done with it based on the voice of the people? Perhaps I’m missing something here, but it seems to me that this process, though well-intentioned, has gotten way out of hand and has great potential for USURPING instead of supporting the will of the people, as in our Father Knows Best Electoral College.

I’m open to a balanced conversation about this system’s advantages and disadvantages; I trust that if such a dialogue leads to more on the negative side that a movement to simplify or eliminate it will be launched. In the meantime, I also trust that if I do in fact start down this path, I can count on my 5th district readers to bring out themselves & all their registered comrades to support my Convention Delegate Candidacy. I’ll keep you posted on my application process, and invite you to communicate with me here with any comments or questions you may have. Good Luck & Good Day!

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