Jessica Win

This weekend the California Democratic Party had it’s Endorsement Convention and it was raucous, exciting, loud, surprising, educational and exciting. In 2010 the state of California passed a measure to enact a “top-two primary which is a type of primary election in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. Consequently, it is possible for two candidates belonging to the same political party to win in a top-two primary and face off in the general election”. Whether or not this was a good idea remains to be seen and whether we like it or not it is the law of the land and we all have to abide by it. Until we can change it.

Having a top-two primary makes it critical that each party have a very strong, single candidate on the ballot in the June primary otherwise there could be 2 candidates from the same party on the general ballot in November. This could keep many voters away from the general election if they feel their party is not on the ballot and then down ballot issues fall to a minority party winning. This is why many Democrats in my state feel that the Endorsement process is an important step in the voting process. There are many Democrats who disagree with this strategy and that’s their right to disagree. I would love to see a more direct path for candidates to run and the population at large to vote directly. We don’t currently have that system. The system we have has evolved over years of election cycles and will continue to evolve, that’s democracy. After the ballots were counted many candidates were disappointed, discouraged and angry as were their supporters. Despite what you may have seen on social media, there were NO physical altercations. NONE. ZIP. NADA. Let’s move on. That’s why part of this title is ‘Not What You Read on Social Media’.

A part of the process written in the Bylaws allows losing candidates to contest the results- they may petition ALL delegates at the convention, even delegates not in their counties or districts. They must get 300 votes by 11 pm of the day of the voting. They may canvass delegates AND the winning party may also canvas delegates. This is what happened for 3 of the races, my district was one. Only 1 of the 3 districts attempting to get a petition to contest were able to get the 300 by 11 pm. Yes, the team (my district) that arrived at 11:02 was turned away. It’s in the rules- 11:00 pm. When should we allow people to turn in petitions after 11:00 pm? You can see that in order to be fair they also have to be strict. The 45th district vote was brought to the convention floor the following morning. At that time, per bylaws, each candidate and their supporters had a specified time to plead their case. At the end of that time the entire floor of delegates voted by aye or nay and the original vote to endorse was left to stand as it was, no change. I was there, I participated, I saw it, and I witnessed it. Some in social media are not commenting accurately but perhaps we all see what we want to see, myself included.

It’s acceptable to debate, argue and get frustrated, it happens in all kinds of groups, not just political groups. I often tell people, politics is my form of sports. I have seen heated and angry debates among sports fans and they too must abide by team and league rules. What should not be acceptable is lying and the spread of fake news, especially spreading untrue rumors about delegates. We work hard as delegates and we don’t get paid, not a dime. We attend conventions on our nickels and dimes. We spend hours in our communities attending meetings and events. We do research and take notes. When we get to convention we should have a pretty good idea on who we are voting for and why or we should not be delegates.

If the public doesn’t like the results then here is what I would say to those who don’t like the system: “Show up.” Join your local clubs and central committees, attend events and speeches and fund raising drives. Become a dues paying member of your local club, don’t just write nasty posts on twitter and Face Book- participate in person. That’s how Democracy works- we show up. How do delegates get to be delegates? They participate and are dues paying members. Delegates are voted for at Central Committee meetings and Club meetings- your local community selected the delegate to represent you. If you don’t like how they represented you- show up. Volunteer to be a delegate yourself. It’s really easy to attend and does not require previous political experience- you just have to have the desire to participate and use your voice and vote to change who is chosen to run, change the Bylaws you don’t think are fair. The Bylaws were written by people just like YOU, people who didn’t like what they saw and showed up. They go to conventions and caucuses and they make motions to change things, re-write old rules, and add new rules. It’s US, you and me, that make the rules, NOT the upper elite. It is delegates who make write the Bylaws. If you don’t like what you see- SHOW UP.

The game played out according to the rules. We can fix the game later. For now, let's unite and win the institutional power we need to achieve the goals we all agree on.

Deborah Baron

Deborah Baron

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