George Michael: Democrats not all that inclusive

September 20, 2012|By GEORGE MICHAEL

Was God “booed” at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte earlier this month?  A simple procedural process of getting a reference to God and a statement about Jerusalem and Israel in the Democratic platform turned into a public relations nightmare. It is not smart to boo God in the Bible belt.

To be fair, it was hard to tell if God was the target of the audience or if delegates were just frustrated at the ineptness of the voting process. Political parties usually handle procedural and public relations strategies in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms. This flap was caught on TV and preserved in video. 

The brouhaha, if you missed it, occurred when someone realized that keeping God out of the party platform might be a hard sell. And recognizing the critical Jewish vote, which usually goes Democratic, a plank is typically included endorsing the Jewish goal of having Jerusalem as their capital.

It was pretty clear that when Moderator Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, asked for a voice vote to put God and Jerusalem back in the party platform, the “No’s” carried the day. The mayor seemed confused, not sure what to do next. He decided to try again.  A shouting match of Yeas and Nays erupted for the next two voice votes. Now, even more uncertain, the mayor appeared to be looking for the nearest exit.

Between the votes, a nice lady appears in the background, perhaps the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt, to admonish the moderator to stick to the script. In other words, just ignore the negative votes and read the teleprompter. The necessary wording had been pre-determined by the party bosses regardless of delegates’ feelings on the matter. 

The video showed a woman delegate holding an “Arab American” sign with obvious frustration at the changes.  When Mayor Villaraigosa announced that the “Yeas” had won and the new language approved, a chorus of boos rang out in the hall.

The great irony is that the Democratic Party prides itself on inclusion and democracy and majority rule. What happened at the convention suggests heavy-handed, back room political shenanigans. The “party of the people” didn’t want the people to be so involved. Just roll over and vote “Yes” like good comrades.

Democrats like to wax elegant about the dangers of voter suppression but what played-out at their convention was actually a good example of it.

This whole affair is symptomatic of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. The big shots consider themselves smarter than anybody else.  Whether the issue is gay rights or undocumented immigrants or forcing people to pay for someone else’s birth control or socialized medicine, it doesn’t matter.  The party bigwigs have their politically correct agenda in place and the little people will just have to go along.

What the event reveals is that the Democratic Party has been hijacked by the radical left. Gay right statements were sprinkled throughout the speeches. Arab American signs were prevalent during the controversial vote. Sure, Arab citizens have a right to be heard but I doubt the radical leaders in their midst reflect the interests of many Democrats and most Americans.

Obviously, there are many God-fearing Democrats and the Republican Party includes agnostics and atheists. But at the same time, it is clear that one party definitely appeals to and is supportive of these more radical groups. The ACLU has more support in the Democratic Party. Evangelical Christians have more influence in the Republican Party. Many life-long Democrats like me don’t feel like we left the party. Rather, the Democratic Party left us.

One may argue that party platforms are exercises in futility and have no real bearing on the election of the president.  But these platforms do reveal the mindset and worldview of a large segment within each party. 

Party activists manage to get their ideas written into these statements. They also reveal much of what is really going on behind the scenes. And occasionally, what goes on behind the scenes finds its way into public view and creates an embarrassing situation that must be swept back under the rug.   

George Michael is a Williamsport resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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