by Judy Ferro
They clapped, they cheered, they stomped, and then they clapped some more!
Democrats were elated when the final draft of their 2016 platform was presented, and they showed it.
Looking back after a week, I realize that the cheers wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic if forging the platform had presented no difficulties. People had spoken passionately, willing to go to the mat for the principles they supported, and the platform committee had taken each one seriously. Working long into the night, the members created a platform that Idaho Democrats can stand behind.
More than half those voting at the Idaho Democratic Convention in Boise June 16 to 18 had never taken part in a convention before. The groups was a mixture of delegates elected by caucus goers in March, officers of county and legislative districts elected by precinct captains in May, and elected legislators and county officials. Many had more than one credential. One-third of them—204 out of 306—were supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders.
The newcomers ranged in age from a handful of 18-year-olds to one feisty 90-year-old from Bonners Ferry. Some been active in politics for years. A few had previously scorned affiliating with a party. Others had just not paid attention until this year’s heated presidential campaigns. The procedures and rules—even Robert’s Rules of Order—were confusing to some. Just how does a resolution differ from a plank? Why is discussion in order before some votes and not others?
Saturday, convention goers got to know one many of their cohorts. During the morning, candidates to be delegates to the national convention gave stump speeches—this is who I am and what I’m fighting for. Women campaigning for legislative and Congressional seats got their turn at a Women’s Caucus luncheon. Then, when a credentials question halted business temporarily, it was open mike time. Among those we heard from was a Viet Nam vet angry over Republican attempts to cut veteran assistance, a woman who walked away from politics after protesting in Chicago in 1968, and a retired professor who is fighting for a bill to make corporations pay taxes where they make their sales, not to some island in the Pacific.
Resolutions passed requesting Central Committee action to start a Native American caucus and to seek out a presidential nominating process “at least as inclusive” as a primary election. Another asked Congress to pass specific items of Sanders’ platform including voter suppression and implementing single-payer health care.
Only delegates elected in March could vote for delegates to the national convention. The numbers were based on attendance at the March caucuses—18 for Bernie and 5 for Hillary. Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln of Caldwell, chair of the Canyon County Democrats, was among the Bernie delegates elected. Evangeline Beechler—a newcomer to Caldwell and first Vice Chair for the Idaho Democrats—is one of the state’s four superdelegates.
Jerry Shriner of Coeur d’Alene and Susan Eastlake of Boise were elected to the Democrat National Committee.
Adoption of the platform, however, was the high point of the convention. Emotions ran high as the initial reading was interrupted by applause more and more as it progressed. Attendees flocked to microphones afterward to state that the document was “eloquent and thorough,” “perfect,” and “a platform we can embrace.” One delegate said, “Never forget this day—we will make a difference.”
(The reading can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByUqe194er0; the text, at http://idahodems.org/news.)