Las Vegas Sun

November 26, 2014

Currently: 54° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

POLITICAL MEMO:

Delegates don’t run the convention show

Nevada’s delegates to both the Republican and Democratic national conventions traveled across the country excited to be a part of the festivities but also believing they might have some say over the decisions being made at the respective three-day events.

They were, after all, duly elected to represent the Silver State with a vote not only for who should be the party’s nominee but what rules would govern the next convention and what their parties’ platforms would end up saying.

Alas, Nevada’s Republican and Democratic delegations ran smack into a fact of modern convention reality: Anything that happens on the convention floor is scripted.

And the delegate’s role in that script: enthusiastic member of the audience.

“It is naive to go and think this is anything more than a way for the party to celebrate itself,” UNR political scientist Eric Herzik said. “That is what it is: a show that’s been stage-managed so you avoid any fight on the floor.”

Still, Democratic and Republican Nevada delegates had at least some expectation that they would be able to influence the process. That intent was obvious with the Republicans.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s supporters captured the majority of the delegate spots and traveled to Tampa, Fla., with the express intent of making a last-ditch effort to get him nominated.

As far as these things go, they had relative success. They gathered petitions to put Paul’s name into nomination and organized the floor enough to try to bring up a debate over the rules that stood in their way.

But even though they had a strong contingent of supporters — not all of them Paul fans — who wanted to debate some of those rules, the convention chairman, House Speaker John Boehner, refused to deviate from the script. He called for a vote, listened to the shouting and declared it passed.

To many in the arena, the vote sounded split enough that a show of hands may have been in order. But that wasn’t in the script.

What happened at the Democratic convention was a little more unexpected but left Nevada delegates just as irritated at being ignored as their Republican counterparts.

In an enthusiastic vote, Democrats passed a party platform on the first day of the convention in which references to God were absent and that did not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

That didn’t sit well with the party’s top brass — including President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley — especially after Republicans began criticizing them for it.

But the Democrats’ convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, wasn’t quite as prepared to simply stick to the script.

He called for a vote to amend the platform, and the call from the partially filled hall sounded a lot like the nays had it. With a somewhat bewildered look, he called for a second vote and then a third before finally declaring the amendment passed.

“What the Democrats did came the closest to a floor fight that we’ve seen in three or four decades,” Herzik said.

Nevada’s Democratic delegates were frustrated by their party’s elected leaders pushing a change to a platform supported by most of the delegates.

“I have a real issue with having a vote on a platform that was supported unanimously,” Nevada delegate Joetta Brown told the Sun’s Karoun Demirjian. “They should have called for credentials and gotten the numbers. ... Where was the parliamentarian?”

But that’s just the point. The parliamentarian doesn’t exactly run the show.

“Delegates are not there to make a decision; they’re there to ratify a decision,” Herzik said. “And if you don’t follow the script, the well-managed convention will just roll right over you.”

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 1 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. So much for either of the 2 system monopolistic private political parties' fiendish attempts to portray any form of real democracy at their (conventions) social media events.

    Both Major political parties are corrupt and paid-off with corporate dollars to keep or improve their collective status quo at the very death kneel of the American middle class via free trade globalization, protected banker/wall-street wealth transfers, courtesy of American taxpayer's tarp/stimulus programs and faulty (green energy) crony loan programs and other such robbery.

    Both major political parties are ready for the trash heap of history as they are broken beyond repair as demonstrated so vividly by their self-serving actions.

    Will America ever return to citizen legislators and the rule of law" lest we not forget wise words from our founding fathers Declaration of Independence "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness".

    Continuing the 2 party corporate system(s) is, destructive of these ends".

    Voting for the lessor of evils gives our consent too continue a broken and corrupt system. Americans are lying to themselves if they believe there are no other choices and fail to change course... change yourself and wake-up others to help take back America for everyones benefit,
    safety and happiness... Don't close the door on America