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At the convention

Wake County Democratic Party Delegate

This morning my wife and I attended the Democratic county convention. The main purposes of the convention are to nominate delegates to the district and state conventions, and to adopt a platform to be submitted for inclusion in the state party platform. It’s also a place for candidates and activists to show up and meet the party faithful. Any elected official or candidate who bothers to show up (or send someone to speak for them) is introduced to the full convention from the podium.

The energy level this year was higher than the last time we attended. Part of that was that the convention was held at a smaller venue, so the people there to campaign had less room to operate. A larger part is that North Carolina’s primary is relevant this year, and Democrats are hopeful of making gains just about everywhere thanks to their success in recent elections. As delegates arrived, they were mobbed by people eager to get them to sign up for things, put stickers on their shirts, and generally submit to campaigning. This is the sort of thing that’s ordinarily frustrating but is actually kind of fun when you’re at an event designed for that purpose.

The Hillary Clinton campaign had a larger official presence at the convention than the Barack Obama campaign, but based on applause and stickers on shirts, I’d say Obama supporters outnumbered Clinton supporters three to one. For the North Carolinians out there, it sure looks like Lieutenant Governor Bev Perdue is going to carry Wake County by a large margin over Richard Moore. I’m probably going to vote for Moore in the primary, though. I should also note that my friend who works for the Department of Labor recommends that Democrats vote for Robin Anderson for Labor Commissioner in the primary.

Once all of the politicians have been introduced, the convention gets down to working on the resolutions. The resolutions are a set of political positions that the county feels the state party should adopt. A separate committee writes the list of resolutions, and then they’re presented to the convention for adoption. Every year they put forward a motion to adopt them all in one big batch, and every year there are people who have problems with the resolutions, and want to debate them individually. The catch is that most everyone else just wants to go home. So there’s a series of motions and other parliamentary shenanigans involved with trying to get the resolutions debated and with trying to end debate and move the convention along.

The funny thing is that the resolutions serve very little purpose in actually changing the laws. Wake is just one county in North Carolina and North Carolina is just one state of 50. It’s kind of frustrating to sit through lengthy debates on this issues, but at the same time it’s heartening to see people really engaged on this issues (even if many of them seem to misunderstand them). In the end, all of the resolutions are acted upon and the convention is adjourned.

One of the best takeaways from the county convention is the reminder that even though the party is divided by the Presidential primary, most everyone is working toward a similar set of goals, and there are a lot more elections being contested than just the one for President.

If you sympathize with a political party, I’d strongly encourage you to get involved at the precinct level and maybe make it to a county convention. It’s an entertaining way to be educated.

2 Comments

  1. What’s the racial/ethnic mix at your county convention? Do African-Americans & Hispanic/Latinos participate at levels roughly commensurate with their representation in local Democratic voters?

    (I would be pleased and not all that surprised if the answer to that last question was “yes”. I’m just curious, not trying to make any kind of point.)

  2. I would say it’s roughly 60/40 white and African American, with other ethnic groups not notably represented. The crowd usually skews toward older rather than younger. Young people at the convention usually work in politics in one way or another, or are at least pretty committed activists. (I am one of the exceptions in that regard.)

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