Charlotte, N.C. — The video of a large number of Democrat delegates voting no — three times in a row — on identifying Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and adding God to the platform has already gone viral. But on the ground here in Charlotte, the platform vote seems not to have been to the delegates.
Kathy Sullivan, a New Hampshire delegate, wasn’t present for the vote. (Many of the delegates I spoke to weren’t, suggesting that there was little messaging done to the delegates on the issue beforehand.) But Sullivan, who says she supported changes, remarks that it’s the media, not the delegates, who are obsessing over the vote.
“I haven’t heard anybody talking about it other than the press,” she says, commenting that the delegates are instead speaking about “how great” Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton were. “No one at all has been talking about the platform. No one.”
Jared Barrett, a Tennessee delegate who was present for the vote, feels it may have been a mistake for Democrats to have made delegates vote at the same time on the two different changes.
“I started to think, maybe they should have separated the two, and voted on each one separately, rather than both together,” Barrett says. “I think people were in favor of putting God back in the platform,” he continues, saying that he felt “the opposition was coming from” those who didn’t agree with the Jerusalem decision.
At the time, he didn’t expect a lot of people would vote “no.” “I was surprised,” Barrett remarks. “I looked around, and I said wow, there’s a lot of no’s.”
Pennsylvania delegate Brian Sims, who wasn’t present for the vote, says he only knows what his decision was on one of the changes. “I don’t know how I would have voted on Jerusalem,” Sim says. “I know that I would have voted to put God back in the platform.”
Rhode Island delegate June Speakman arrived at the floor just as the vote was ending. She said she ultimately favored the changes because she felt it was appropriate to heed Obama’s wishes on the Democratic platform. Still, Speakman, who is agnostic, would have personally preferred God remain absent from the platform.
“In my opinion, my political party should not determine my position on God. That’s a private decision that I make and I don’t want anyone dictating it to me, my party, my government, anyone,” Speakman says.
“I would prefer that the official platform of my political party not contain references to God,” she adds, “because I consider those to be private decisions.”
As far as the controversy over whether there was in fact, enough voting yes — two-thirds are required — for the changes to the platform to be made, Barrett says from the floor, he had trouble hearing, but the vote “seemed like it was split, honestly.” But Barrett is fine with the outcome. “He heard what he heard,” Barrett says of Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is chairman of the convention and declared that the “yes” votes had it. “So I agree with it.”
Danny Anchondo, a delegate from Texas, would have voted for the changes if he had been presebt, but said he wasn’t bothered by the fact that so many Democrat delegates had voted against it.
“That’s one of the things that the Democratic party stands for,” he says, “the freedom to choose how you’re going to vote one way or another, and that’s a good part about it.”