Thousands of bloggers are reporting this morning that delegates at the Democratic convention in Charlotte booed when God was reintroduced into their party’s platform. That’s not entirely accurate. But the true story does not reflect any better on the Democratic Party.
This Breitbart report has the story right, I think. The boos from the floor were aimed at Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was running the convention at the time, and asked for three separate voice votes on the amendment that restored a mention of God. On the 3rd vote, Villaigosa ruled that the “Ayes” had won—by a two-thirds majority.
That ruling from the chair was an obvious abuse of power. It was impossible to say, simply from the volume of voices, whether the “Ayes” outnumbered the “Nays.” To assert that the “Ayes” predominated by a 2-to-1 margin was simply absurd. Quite understandably, many delegates objected to the ruling. So their boos were aimed at Villaraigosa, not at God.
But it’s not quite that simple. This vote didn’t occur in a vacuum. In drafting the original platform, Democratic leaders had removed references to God (and to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel). They didn’t merely forget to mention God; in updating previous party platforms, they made a conscious decision to remove Him. When that decision was brought to the attention of ordinary American voters, outside the orbit of the Democratic Party apparatchiks, it was unpopular. It didn’t play in Peoria. Belatedly, the Democratic leaders realized that they should put God back in the picture. So an amendment to the platform was place on the convention’s agenda.
And here’s where things get interesting: That amendment was controversial! Quite a few delegates opposed the mention of God. Some, no doubt, were primarily concerned about the mention of Jerusalem. Party leaders might have simplified matters by introducing two separate amendments: one to restore a mention of God, the other to name Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. But that tactic would not have suited the purposes of the party strategists. They didn’t want an open debate on God (or on Jersualem) during the convention. They didn’t want to give American voters the opportunity to see just how radical the Democratic party has become. They wanted the amendment approved quickly.
Villaraigosa did his part, pronouncing the amendments victorious at a time when any sentient observer realized that their passage was in doubt. He might have called for a ballot vote, but that could have proved embarrassing. The Breitbart account captures the moment:
And Villaraigosa was lying, in any case–there is no way that the voice vote had passed. Opponents stood up and protested, waving and shouting. The fix was in. The Democratic leadership had to ram a mention of God and a mention of Jerusalem through, violating their own rules, to avoid the fallout within their own ranks.
Today we don’t know whether or not a majority of participants at the Democratic convention actually objected to mentioning God in the party’s platform. The party leadership didn’t want us to know.