It was back to the future as disenfranchised voters took to the streets of DC and chanted:
This time the scene of the
crime hearing was the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where the Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee met to reconsider its decision to strip Florida and Michigan of their delegates for moving up their primary.
I nearly missed the hearing. There was a computer glitch and my name wasn’t in the system. Thanks to the intervention of a young staffer, I narrowly avoided being tossed out of the Press Filing Center. Too bad the same can’t be said about the woman from "East Hampton" who was escorted out by security after she refused to leave.
With my credential in hand, I could finally settle down. The atmosphere inside the ballroom was mostly civil -- at least for the first five hours. The DNC prohibited any signs or demonstrations so the audience was limited to applause, boos, hisses and catcalls.
Though they played their cards close to the vest, committee members signaled it was not fair to disenfranchise voters for their political leaders’ willful defiance of party rules. As Florida Sen. Bill Nelson testified:
Almost two million voters turned out who violated no rule, committed no crime, did not move the election forward. The Republican legislature did but the voters are the ones who are being punished…In Florida we are sensitive about having our votes taken away.
There was a record turnout of more than 600,000 voters in Michigan. Former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard, who backs Hillary Clinton, observed:
People who voted didn’t do anything wrong.
After nearly five hours of impassioned testimony from representatives from Florida and Michigan and some testy exchanges during the Q&A, the committee recessed for what was supposed to be an hour-long lunch break. The hour stretched into two, then three. By the time committee members were filing back into the ballroom, I was heading out the door to catch Amtrak home to Brooklyn.
I was on the train listening to Alberta Hunter's "Amtrak Blues" when I found out the committee decided to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations but gave each delegate only half a vote. So that's what they were chewing over behind closed doors during their extended lunch break.
It remains an open question whether the committee's half-loaf of delegates will satisfy Clinton, who wanted the whole loaf (to seat both delegations with full voting strength). Clinton adviser and rules committee member Harold Ickes informed the panel:
Mrs. Clinton has instructed me to reserve her rights to take this to the Credentials Committee.