(YouTube URL for video above, found here. Must see)
The stakes are high and The Democratic leaders are worried about a potential party meltdown if they do not do something about seating the Florida and Michigan delegates.
This Saturday the Rules & ByLaws Committee is expected to meet to figure out what to do about Michigan and Florida delegates. There are rallies and protests planned for the day and it is expected to be a media circus.
The Situation Facing The Rules & ByLaws Committee on Saturday.
Florida and Michigan, as well as multiple other states, moved their primaries forward against the Democratic National Committees (DNC) rules. The original penalty for doing so was to have half of their delegates stripped from them.
To try to reign back in control of the process, Howard Dean, chairman of the DNC and the Rules & ByLaws Committee, voted to penalize Michigan and Florida more harshly than the other states that had moved their primaries forward. The new penalty was to strip all of the delegates from Michigan and Florida but not the other states that held then early.
Florida lawmakers have filed a suit against the DNC, claiming they were in violation of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits any national party from stripping a state's delegates and multiple groups from Michigan and Florida will be attending and holding rallies at the Saturday meeting.
Making matters worse for Michigan than for Florida, Barack Obama had his name removed from the Michigan ballot and Hillary Clinton did not, although both candidates agreed not to campaign in either state before the primaries were held.
This gave Hillary Clinton and automatic win in Michigan.
In Florida, both candidates names were on the ballot and Hillary Clinton won by a large margin.
If the process were not complicated enough, Barack Obama leads the party in delegates and popular vote without Michigan and Florida counted but if Michigan and Florida were to be counted it would boost Hillary Clinton in delegates and she would be ahead in the popular vote, according to Real Clear Politics popular vote count.
The Saturday Committee Meeting.
The interest shown in the upcoming meeting on Saturday has been overwhelming, as evidenced by the fact that there were approximately 500 seats available to the public for the R&B Committee meeting and within 3 to 4 minutes of going online Tuesday, all seats were taken.
According to DNC Lawyers, the R&B Committee has the power to seat at least half the delegates from both states, which would have been the original penalty had they not voted to stiffen the penalty to begin with, but they claim they do not have the power to fully restore all delegates from both states.
The DNC analysis does not make recommendations for how the Rules and Bylaws Committee should vote, but gives context from the party's charter and bylaws for the committee to consider.
The analysis said there are two options to include half the delegations — either allow half the number of delegates from each state into the convention or allow the full delegations to attend, but give them each half a vote. "The rule does not actually specify whether the reduction is to be accomplished on the basis of delegate positions or delegate votes," the analysis said, giving committee members some justification for sending the entire delegations with half-votes as some leaders in the states want.
Either of those options still leaves the glaring problem of how to divide the delegates for Michigan, since Barack Obama had his name removed from the ballot.
The Potential Trainwreck.
Adding another complication to the mix, if either Clinton or Obama are unhappy with the outcome of the R&B Committee meeting then the issue would have to be brought up before the 186-member Credentials Committee, which will convene in July or August.
And if that happens, the party will be presented with a possible train wreck: Whatever the Credentials Committee decides will have to be voted on by the Convention in late August as its first order of business. And this could create what the media might love but the party dreads: a floor fight in Denver.
This R&B Committee meeting is further complicated by the agendas of all those involved.
Clinton needs Florida and Michigan to count to gain ground on Obama.
Obama would see his delegate lead diminish somewhat if Florida and Michigan did count and he would see his popular vote become her popular vote.
The R&B Committee is all about rules, even those they changed in midstream as they did by stripping all of the delegates instead of leaving the penalties as they were originally stated, which means if they decide to give half the delegates back, all of this controversy would have been for nothing.
Rallies and Protests on Saturday, May 31, 2008.
Dan Fowler who is a committee member and a Clinton supporter says, "I am told the place [the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington] is going to be packed with supporters of the two campaigns. I have a great apprehension that we are going to look like a bunch of people who can only holler and scream and can’t do what is right for the party.”
Then we have the people from Florida, who have been sending Florida oranges and shoes to the members in protest of being "disenfranchised" and having their votes not count and Michigan, who has been mounting public campaigns to have their votes counted as well.
The meeting itself will be held at the Marriot Wardman Park hotel in Washington, D.C., and the 30 members of the R&B Committee have reserved rooms there because they expect the meeting to possibly carry over into Sunday while they hash out this issue.
One of the groups that will be there is Women Count which is a recently formed political action committee. They have taken out ads at USA Today and the New York Times to encourage people to attend the "Count Every Vote Rally" on May 31, 2008 at the Marriot Wardman Park hotel. (See ad here)
The rally is to demand that the DNC count "the ballots of the 2.4 million voters in Michigan and Florida".
Their website, which is a group that supports Clinton, has stated as their goal:
WomenCount PAC was created to ensure that the 51 percent of American citizens who are women have their values and votes counted in the political process.
Joining the WomenCountPac will be Count Every Vote '08. A spokeswoman for that group, Karen Feldman, says, "Recent presidential elections have taught us how important it is to ensure that every vote cast in this country is counted. It is a foundational principle of our American democracy. The feeling that we have somehow lost control of our political process is growing -- and people are demanding that this basic principle be realized and restored."
Another group that will be there in force is "Walk A Mile In Our Shoes", and they have been sending Florida oranges and shoes to the committee to protest their votes not being counted, saying they are being disenfranchised.
They are promoted by Florida Demands Representation which will be busing people to Saturday's rally outside the meeting.
A spokesman for that group says the group, as a whole, is unaligned with either candidate, their sole purpose is to have every vote count.
There will also be a group which headlines their website as "Hillary Rapid Responders", that will be rallying on the 31st, from 7am until 4pm, outside the Marriott-Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Rd, NW in Washington D.C.
Next we have "Votergate 08 Unleased", who are planning what they call a DNC Super Rally, to march, picket and rally.
The marchers are made up of a multi-cultural, multi-gender group of bi-partisan voters who state they “want to present a unified front for democracy. All voices should be heard and all votes matter in America,” states on of the grass roots organizers.
Although the Hillary Clinton campaign denies orchestrating this event, the different grass roots efforts has managed to organize an expected 10,000 ‘marchers’ who are due to arrive in Washington DC 7 AM on Saturday May 31, 2008 from all over the United States, to include Peurto Rico. The marchers range from independent voters, democrats and republicans to die-hard Clinton supporters.
Others include, but are not limited to;
Project Orange Crush
Seat Our Delegates NOW!
Saturday will, indeed, be a media circus as well as a rally heaven but it is but a drop in the bucket of what the Democratic National Convention will experience in August at the Denver convention if these issues are not hashed out beforehand.
Quite a bit rides on this Saturday meeting for the Democratic party as a whole.