When the Democratic National Committee dropped the word “God” from their platform ahead of this week’s convention, Republicans capitalized on the exclusion. Now a last minute attempt to reverse that measure may have made matters worse.
The delegation at day two of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte was split on Wednesday after a motion was approved to recognize God’s role in the party and affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — two issues that are often brought into political debates on both sides of the aisle yet had been removed from this year's official platform, despite being included during the 2008 presidential election. All that changed on Wednesday, when a motion proposed by former Ohio governor Ted Strickland was approved by delegates participating in a voice vote, a contest that was quickly contested by members of the Democratic Party.
Although the motion ended with the committee declaring it approved, the vote and the method in which it was conducted were challenged by delegates in the immediate aftermath.
Convention chair Antonio Villaraigosa asked the audibly divided delegation to participate in a voice vote inside Time Warner Arena, informing them that a two-thirds majority would be needed to approve any motion introduced to the committee. Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, was unable to assess the crowd’s response, although it was clear that he was not met with a two-thirds opinion from either side. The mayor was prompted to ask the delegates to vote either for or against the motion three separate times before deciding. Following the third and final vote, Villaraigosa declared that the motion was approved, despite rampant disapproval from opposed members of the Democratic Party.
Even though two-thirds majority was needed to have the motion passed, broadcasts of the vote seem to show that roughly half of the delegates were still opposed to the motion. When Villaraigosa discounted this and approved the motion much to the chagrin of critics, those in disagreement returned his decision with a refrain of audible booing.
The first amendment presented altered the wording of the 2012 campaign to reaffirm religion’s connection with the DNC, changing the provision to read, “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the change to make the most of their God-given potential.”
The second amendment was offered as being consistent with US President Barack Obama’s own stance, although not one formally adopted by the country as a whole yet remains a critical issue in regards to America’s international relations. “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel,” the second amendment would update the platform to read. “The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”
After Mayor Villaraigosa asked the delegates to respond three time, he determined that the motion had passed and that both changes would be adopted by the DNC. In direct response, the delegation erupted with boos and hisses to oppose the chair’s interpretation of the vote.
"Widespread boos for Jerusalem and God in the convention hall,” RNC spokesman Tim Miller tweeted in the aftermath.
Sources speaking with the Huffington Post say on condition of anonymity that US President Barack Obama had personally intervened in the drafting of the motion to strengthen its language. Two separate sources claim that the amendments were written with the assistance of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
"The platform is being amended to maintain consistency with the personal views expressed by the President and in the Democratic Party platform in 2008. Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel. The parties have agreed that Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. It should remain an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths," DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says in a statement released this week.
Before Wednesday’s vote, President Obama himself spoke out on the omission of “God” from the party’s platform, allegedly telling one senior official, "Why was it changed in the first place?"
President Obama will deliver an address from Charlotte to the delegation on Thursday night when he formally accepts the party’s nomination.