The Democratic Party made a significant error that culminated during the Wednesday session of their national convention, in my estimation. For reasons inexplicable, the original draft of the Democratic party platform omitted all references to “God.” During the Wednesday session, the Democratic National Committee very publicly corrected this omission under suspended rules. Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio made the required motion before the assembled delegates to amend the party platform, affirming and attesting “that our faith and belief in God is central to the American story and informs the value we have expressed in our party’s platform.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles asked for a voice vote to amend the party platform, which requires a two-thirds majority of “ayes.” Unfortunately, all did not go as planned.
To my ears, and noticeably to the ears of Mayor Villaraigosa, the “nays” won – clearly and resoundingly. The Mayor looked flabbergasted and clearly confused. He said “let’s try that again,” and on the second vote the “ayes” were a bit more forceful, but the “nays” did not back down. On the third vote, the Mayor declared – in his opinion as chair of the Democratic National Convention – that the motion had passed, when it very clearly had not. I looked on in disbelief as jeers and catcalls rang throughout the convention hall. Did I really just witness delegates for one of the United States’ two major political parties boo the renewed inclusion of God into their party platform?
I do not believe for one second that the Democratic Party is a “God-less” party. I have Democrat friends whom I admire for their sincere belief in God. While the national party platform holds certain positions on social issues which I believe are incongruous with Christian principles, it also holds positions that harmonize with the same. For example, the platform calls for reclaiming the economic security of the middle class by “restoring the basic values that made our country great.” Surely all Americans can support this statement as a general principle. Republicans and Democrats have different philosophies about how to get there, but these are policy differences, not religious differences. We must be careful not to equate the two.
The omission of a “God” reference in the original Democratic party platform may or may not have been deliberate, and at this point we can only speculate. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz says the omission was a “technical oversight” because the party platform is “many pages long.” Whether deliberate or not, the omission can very likely be traced back to only a handful of people, and to the party’s credit the omission was corrected in the public forum of the Democratic National Convention, presumably at the instruction of President Obama. I was, however, disturbed by the reaction of the delegates during the vote.
It is possible that the most vehement jeers and catcalls were directed at the re-inclusion of a party affirmation supporting Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, which was addressed in the same motion and vote that dealt with the “God” omission. Whatever the case, the relatively small sample-size of Democrats in the convention hall, while clearly not reflective of the beliefs and values of the majority of Americans, nevertheless spoke loudly and resoundingly on behalf of the Democratic Party on Wednesday night, and thus, in my opinion, significantly diminished Barack Obama’s reelection chances. Surely the Democrats never expected their delegates to react and behave in such a manner.
In the coming weeks, look for the Romney campaign to use this error to their advantage to energize the Republican’s social conservative base and to convert socially conservative Democrats. The support of these two groups, along with Romney’s solid numbers among Independents, substantially increases the possibility of Romney becoming the next President of the United States.