"All this stuff I thought—you vote, and your vote is counted—it's a façade. It doesn't happen."

There was a lot of ink spilled covering the Republican National Convention last week, but I would like to draw your attention to this piece in the Independent Weekly written by Barry Yeoman (who, in the interest of full disclosure, I must point out is a friend with whom I've spent many pleasant evenings chatting at the dog park in Durham). He spent a lot of time with North Carolina's Ron Paul delegates, and got the story you most likely didn't hear in the mainstream coverage. To wit:

The convention would vote on these new rules. But first it had to approve or reject the decision to unseat the original Maine delegates. "All those in favor will signify by saying 'aye,'" said national committee chairman Priebus.
The hall erupted with ayes.
Priebus smiled. "Those opposed, 'no,'" he said.
This time it erupted with shouts of "no." Standing on the floor, I couldn't tell which side sounded louder.
"In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it," Priebus announced, officially unseating the original Maine delegates.
Under the RNC's rules, any delegate can call for a formal vote, in which each side stands up to be counted. Rufty, the Army veteran, jumped up, cupped his mouth and shouted, "Division!"—the official word for this procedure. He was joined by delegates from around the country. When Priebus ignored their calls, much of the Texas delegation stood and started chanting, "Point of order! Point of order!" The majority drowned them out with a counter-chant of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.!"
Rufty shouted again. Hayes, the state party chairman, turned to him.
"It's over," Hayes said. "Don't embarrass us."
"I'm calling for division," Rufty said.
"We don't need division," Hayes replied.
"It's not debatable," Rufty said. He was correct. But the convention rolled along.
An identical sequence happened with the rule changes: a too-close-to-call voice vote, shouts of "Division," drowning chants of "U.S.A.," and a chairman (this time House Speaker John Boehner) who didn't acknowledge the dissent.
Later, Rufty would show me a video someone had taken of the teleprompter during the rules vote. It said, in part, "In the opinion of the chair, the 'ayes' have it." Speaker Boehner was just reading a preordained outcome.
The whole piece is well worth your time. 

UPDATE--Vote results on teleprompters appear to be a thing at the DNC, as well. Villaregosa, to his credit, at least seemed troubled by it before being told by the parliamentarian that "you gotta let them do what they're going to do."

"They" do know how to get things done, don't they?


Mr. D said...

Now I know what you were talking about over at my place. Looks like both sides have teleprompter parliamentarians.

Brian said...

Yeah, sorry... my comment this morning was fast and cryptic (morning web surfing while gulping coffee).

Barry (the author of the piece) had just pointed out on his Facebook page that the DNC had vote results on their teleprompter as well...I had posted this update just before going to your page and seeing the same video.

Gino said...

yeah, GOP not so pure. who knew?

i do add: it is a far greater offense to democracy to disqualify an entire delegation (an elected one, i may add)... than pass a platform plank that was intended to be consequentially meaningless.

i saw this type of shit in 96. it is why i have not been a Republican since then...

Brian said...

Gino, I agree completely.