Let me start off by saying that I am no political party loyalist. In the past few election cycles I have made financial donations and have volunteered hours to assist both Republicans and Democrats in Utah. My support is based entirely on my own intellectual analysis of a particular race, the results I believe a candidate is capable of, and how much sleep I've gotten the night before any of them have called me.
I've never been to any national political convention, so when I saw the opening to become a delegate and attend the Democratic National Party Convention, I thought this could really be fun.
So I signed up to be a delegate for Bernie Sanders. To win, one must campaign by sending emails to around 1,700 State delegates on a Democratic Party list. How hard could it be? This is a summary of my pitch:
On Friday, April 22, you will vote to nominate the delegates in the same proportion as the primary vote results. Twenty-seven will go to Bernie Sanders and six will go to Hillary Clinton.
I think Bernie will be extremely impressed if you choose me, because:
• Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn 74 years ago. I was born in Brooklyn 74 years ago, too.
• Bernie is Jewish, just like me, and he became Bar Mitzvah in 1954—just 3 months before me.
• Bernie went to Brooklyn College from 1959 to 1960, same as me (but, in full disclosure, he left for University of Chicago after one year, while I finished up at Brooklyn).
• Bernie has been a progressive most of his life, sometimes as a Democrat and sometimes as an independent. OMG, that's exactly the same as me, too.
• I relate to Bernie more than anyone else in Utah. In the early '70s, while Bernie was just getting started in politics, one of our Democratic Party's greatest heroes (also from Brooklyn and in Congress at the time) staged an unprecedented run for president as a women's-rights and minority-rights candidate. That great Democratic hero was Rep. Shirley Chisolm.
• So, here's the bottom line. Several of us are offering to go to Philadelphia to cast symbolic votes that have already been locked in at our Utah primary. To make your choice more meaningful, elect the only delegate Bernie Sanders will get a big warm chuckle out of. It's easy. You already voted for one semi-aged, Brooklyn-born, Jewish, independent-minded progressive when you voted for Bernie. How cool will it be when you do it again by voting for Stan?
The response to my email pitch was, to paraphrase a candidate from another party, huge. One reply was, "As a very, very proud native New Yorker, son of a Brooklynite, and progressive, I'm happy to be able to give you my support." There were more like that.
Then things went sour. The next day, I had to send a more somber email and explain that the state Democratic Party advised me that campaigns are allowed to "not approve" any potential candidate for any reason and the Utah Sanders campaign did not want me to run. Why? I asked. Did the Utah Sanders campaign not like my email? The only things they know about me are that I am old, Jewish and come from Brooklyn, just like Bernie.
In my second email, I continued, "I'm not into conspiracy theories, but what if they have a few campaign volunteers they would like to ensure get chosen to go to Philadelphia, without the nastiness of a democratic election? I suppose they might simply "not approve" anyone who is in the way. I can't believe they would be so undemocratic. It sure would be nice to have a little transparency, though ... I really do thank those of you who have shown support, so quickly, in your replies."
Now that I was an underdog, support was even more "huge." An Eastern transplant simply wrote, "WTF?" Other responses were "I never heard of anything like this," "Wow, this all seems crazy," "As a state delegate and somebody who is also running to become a national delegate for Bernie Sanders, I'm really concerned about the way you've been treated by the party" and "the whole situation reeks of insider politics—the very kind of thing that is corrupting our democracy and has led so many of us to be inspired by Bernie to become supporters of his ideas."
Many were surprised at this flagrant Utah Sanders campaign play to prohibit 1,700 voting delegates their choice to vote yea or nay. Utah members of the Sanders campaign seemed not to honor the democratic process they all fight for.
Following a warm exchange between me and the 1,700, or so, state delegates, there were nice, respectful emails and phone calls from state party people. Chairman Peter Corroon phoned and gave me an appreciated virtual hug. Soon after, state party Executive Director Lauren Littlefield and I hugged in person, so we are all good.
But, allowing unelected candidate-campaigner folks to strip lawful candidates from election ballots denies qualified voters their franchise, which fosters corruption.
In Utah, some Berniacs have debased Bernie Sanders even more by throwing actual projectiles at State Rep. Patrice Arent for exercising her right to follow the rules and talk about it publicly. Then they use that same rule book they rail against to kick one of their own supporters in the butt.
Are they misusing passion to destroy their own principles? Well, if it walks like a duck ...
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