My Big Fat Democratic Convention
For reasons unclear to me, I was unanimously elected chair of the Senate District 22 caucus, divided almost exactly evenly between Clinton and Obama delegates. The two camps tried to cobble together a deal to divide the available committee positions between them, but it nearly foundered as many of the first-time delegates (probably a majority of the total) were understandably suspicious of "back room deals." In spite of that, and a brief bit of childish public tantrum-throwing by a delegate who didn't get what he thought he deserved, we actually finished far ahead of the other senate districts, some of which were at it all night long and well into the morning. I attended a hastily-organized Native American caucus and we elected a Navajo man and a Blackfoot/Lakota woman (I'm sorry, but I've blanked on their names) as our choices for at-large Native American delegate to the national convention. We also passed a resolution I authored calling for the repeal of the Major Crimes Act and reversal of Oliphant, though I never learned what happened to it after that. There was little actual drama on the convention floor compared to prior years; Boyd Ritchie was easily re-elected. The question of abolishing the "Texas Two-Step" Primary was fobbed off on a task force. The biggest excitement came when we had to evacuate the Austin Convention Center (which is easily the worst venue I have ever been trapped in; we practically had to rappel up the side of the building to get to some of the meeting rooms and the escalators were unaccountably turned off) due to a fire alarm. I heard but didn't get to see Chelsea Clinton's speech, and the entire convention was annoyed by the technical glitches that kept interrupting Hillary Clinton's concession speech. As for the much-hyped tension between Clinton & Obama supporters, I think there were actually more people worried about it than there were people who legitimately intend to vote for McCain unless Clinton is put on the ticket. Overall, my impression was that the Obama supporters could have been more gracious winners and the Clinton supporters could have been better losers. A few small symbolic gestures by either side would've gone a long way. For example, if I was in charge of the Obama delegates, I would have arranged for a "spontaneous" pro-Hillary demonstration after her speech. It would have cost the Obama side nothing, but would've helped mend fences. Actually, Texas would've been the perfect setting for a joint appearance, considering the huge turnout and the fact that Clinton won the primary while Obama won the caucus. Hopefully, the Texas Democratic Party will capitalize on the huge primary turnout and work to make sure that all the new people in the process stay excited and involved all the way to November and beyond.