It was a lovefest over the weekend in Spokane for Democratic party leaders and activists. In a show of party unity, Democrats reportedly passed the state party's platform in all of 10 minutes, following it with a quick approval of resolutions marked as "do pass" from the party's Platforms and Resolutions Committee.
According to Niki Sullivan at the News Tribune, day two "started out like a rock concert," and by most accounts the convention went swimmingly. Between cocktail hour, a salmon feed, banquets, and speeches from party leaders, the delegates couldn't wait to celebrate what they hope will be a banner year for Blues.
Sullivan also noted the Dems' convention was a little more laid back than the Republican convention two weeks ago.
There aren't as many security guards and we can walk wherever we want (even on the floor!) without supervision. Music (mostly 90s rock, it seems) is often played while candidates approach the stage.
Another difference: There are a lot more bloggers covering the event — including partisan bloggers. I'm still getting used to sitting at the press table and having my next-door neighbor clap and cheer during candidate speeches.
But other than that, things are similar. Lots of candidate speeches, lots of procedural maneuvers and lots of delegates with giant name tags.
Let's get into what was actually passed in the Democrats' platform [PDF].
First, there was the expected spiel in favor of exiting Iraq, along with the assumed calls for universal health care, immigrant-friendly reform, congressional representation for the District of Columbia, abolishing the Electoral College, and stepping up government spending for transportation improvements.
There were also some fun ones.
If you're a shy urinator, the Democrats have you covered. With their approval of the resolution to Help Shy Bladder Folks with Drug Tests [PDF], grassroots liberals hope to end employment discrimination against people with Shy Bladder Syndrome. The title of the resolution alone is worth a chuckle, though I doubt anyone who has the affliction would argue against the proposal. Or if you've always wanted to visit Cuba, this year's state Democratic platform is also your two-way ticket to Havana, with the passed resolution calling for "the end of the economic blockade and restrictions on travel" and "normalization of relations" with the country. If you're fed up with the Fed and its national security policies, the Democrats are still pushing for the creation of a Department of Peace and Nonviolence. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, penned the bill in 2001 and again in 2007, only to have it rushed to a subcommittee moratorium. Of the House representatives from Washington, only Jim McDermott co-sponsored the bill, while most Republicans had a field day with it.
The Democrats also penned an aggressive re-tooling of several international trade agreements, which would, in reality, be difficult to send through Olympia or Washington. As Wally Edge at PolitickerWA sarcastically wrote, "That should be easy ... Expect the cost of goods to quintuple immediately, and then watch as the cost of goods continues to rise faster than the cost of gas ..."
Many of the platform and party resolutions are, however, feasible ideas that could play both in Olympia and in Washington — especially if Barack Obama is elected in November. Other measures remain Democratic dreams and nothing more. As Eric Earling at Sound Politics notes, grassroots party members aren't often in step with candidates' views — or those of the general electorate. Still, the party base did send a loud outcry against certain party leaders' positions, namely opposing Gov. Christine Gregoire's support of the Washington Assessment for Student Learning (WASL). The delegates in Spokane didn't hesitate to accept the platform's call for "abandoning the WASL as a mandatory high school graduation requirement." The delegates also clashed with Gregoire's disapproval of Initiative 1000, or the "death with dignity" or "assisted suicide" ballot measure, approving the platform's stance in favor of it.
Still, the convention was, for the most part, a show of party unity for Democrats. Despite some quibbling over who gets to go to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the rallying cry was simple, writes Jim Camden of the Spokesman-Review:
The last eight years under George Bush have been bad. John McCain and Republican gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi agree with Bush on many things. Therefore, putting them in charge of the nation or the state for the next four years would be a bad idea.
More than a thousand Democrats from around the state spent much of Saturday listening to their party's elected officials and would-be elected officials deliver variations on those themes.
We know grassroots Democrats can rally together at the convention, but the question now is if they'll be able to come together in November — and not just nationally, but against an earnest Dino Rossi and Republican party ready for a duel to death against incumbents and challengers alike.