Do you support Bernie Sanders? Do you want him to win? Then if you sign up to be a delegate, the most important thing is to SHOW UP. These are the very important lessons I learned visiting the Cerro Gordo County Democratic Convention on Saturday, March 12.
It was a frustrating series of events to watch unfold. In what should have been an 11/11 split or even more of delegates between Bernie Sanders and Hillary, ended up with Hillary edging him out. With nearly 80 pledged Bernie delegates not showing up, the advantage fell to Hillary in a 12-10 decision. The problems compounded as recount after recount occurred and working class people who were told it would only be a few hours had to leave. At least one delegate, Eric Wolf, was not on any of the reported lists and ended up leaving citing his frustration on the Cerro Gordo Democrats Facebook Page. It was noted in the meeting that one precinct had not been reported, District 1-2.
This is a day of great importance for delegates and the next big step following the caucuses. It is the day that precinct delegates convene from each of Iowa’s 99 counties to choose their district delegates through ballot to move on and possibly go to state. If all goes properly, the number is already set. The number of district delegates is predetermined prior, but is based on how many people from each group shows up and is chosen from each of the groups separately.
We know that each state has its own unique set of rules, but in each state there are some that remain static. Based on that these are the most important things we’ve learned and that need to be passed on to you, the reader and potential delegates, if we want to win.
A. How serious are you about winning?
B. Are you ready for a test of endurance?
I cannot stress enough to those who sign up to be a precinct, district delegate, or an alternate, must be committed to showing up. Do not let this intimidate you however, this is democracy, and this is our future we are talking about. It’s almost certain that at the end, these delegates are going to come down to just a finite number across America. Iowa’s final count after today was a difference of 4. If everyone in Cerro Gordo showed up, we could have had that extra 4 and it could have led to Iowa of being a tie. We could lose in the national primary, and as I stated before it could come down to a handful of people who forget how important their role truly is.
We need to remind ourselves who and what the establishment really is. As I saw in Mason City, there is an unsettling number of those in charge of these county conventions who are staunch Hillary supporters. Wasting time and dragging procedure out, essentially filibustering, bodes well Hillary side and her key demographic. I plainly saw that Hillary’s side of the room was full of retirees while Bernie’s side had more people of age who needed to rush out the door and get back to work or their families. This is not a judgement or ageism, I was simply there as an impartial observer. However, just as Quinn Symonds, Bernie Sanders County Captain and owner of of @Iowa4Bernie Twitter account stated “Anything to win but actual democracy.” This was never more apparent than when the time came for realignment. A motion passed with a majority vote by all the Clinton supporters and some of the now tired and frustrated Sanders delegates to change the one hour time to just one minute. If you are unfamiliar with realignment, it is the time allotted to talk to those on the other side and sometimes, just sometimes your belief, your passion, and your words will bring someone to your side. This is what democracy looks like, talking to each other and sharing your views. Democracy limped home today in the confusion of signing in, being seated, repeated counts, and frustration across Iowa. Bernie supporters in Dubuque, Waterloo, and Polk county among others reported in with concerns similar and much worse.
As we move forward, these mistakes must not be made in any other states. Understand that Hillary has a bag of tricks that include professional delegates, disrupters, people we know and have seen on video throw the counts, and people in high places who run and organize these conventions. What do we do?
We make sure that those who sign up to be a district delegate understand immediately what they are getting into and the time commitment it involves, which may possibly be all day.
We show up. We hold ourselves accountable.Do not depend upon being reminded and if for any reason you cannot make it to the county convention call your Bernie office so they can set up the alternate. If you don’t know or have a local Bernie office, get on a Bernie Facebook site and ask for help. If you aren’t on a local Bernie Facebook Page, this is a great excuse to get on one. Bernie friends are not in short demand, trust me. I’ve found hundreds of them and they keep finding me!
The Clintons have the combined presidential campaigning experience that is unmatched by anyone, let’s not kid ourselves. They know things that we’ve never considered and as much credit as we want to give the Bernie campaign we cannot match the experience the Clintons have. LEARN FROM IOWA! DO BETTER THAN US!
If you are unsure of the time, again reach out. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. The campaign can answer just about anything you may need to know. Do not be late, try to be early and mingle. Make sure you sign in immediately. Get your packet or docket and sit down. Attempt to be polite and always monitor the situation. Ask names and questions to get the questions and clarifications you need. Do NOT leave until it is over. Bernie once filibustered for 8 hours. If he did it, you can too! Let me repeat, do NOT leave until it is over! The counts can change from the original tally, and almost did, in some places in Bernie’s favor, in others Hillarys. Once again the rules and styles are different in each state, so it’s important that you know your state’s rules and processes.
Don’t just take anyone’s word for it either. Look for Bernie staffers, or any other experienced Democrats. The confusion and mishaps in Cerro Gordo county was multiplied across Iowa by 99. We cannot let this happen in other states. We must learn from this and remain vigilant. We must stay on top and hold strong especially with other states having caucus conventions upcoming as well. If we wish Bernie to become our next Commander in Chief then we must prepare for these situations and for whatever they throw at us. Bernie said weeks ago to be ready for the kitchen sink, well here it comes.
Photo Credit: By Phil Roeder [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons