How I’m voting as the OH-15 Sanders delegate to the Democratic National Convention

Note: I sent this message to Our Revolution Ohio supporters in OH-15 to explain my vote since I am representing them as the only remaining Bernie delegate from our Congressional district.

Greetings! Many of you I know, and some of you I don’t know, but I am sending this message to everyone on the Our Revolution Ohio list in Ohio’s Congressional District 15. Many of you turned out back on January 7 to vote for delegates to represent Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention this year.

It feels like a lifetime ago now — Bernie suspended his campaign in April, and we’ve been hit by a pandemic and economic recession — but that day was hopeful as you can see from the faces of the OH-15 delegates in the photo above — from left to right, Cynthia Vermillion, Brian Meyers, Portia Boulger, Michael Grom, Cathy Cowan Becker (me), Drew Ullman, and Brittany Alexander.

Out of all of us, I am the only delegate from OH-15 left standing for Bernie at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which officially starts next week. Across the state Bernie garnered only 13 elected pledged delegates, 5 at-large delegates, and 3 party leader delegates. By contrast, Biden got 76 pledged delegates, 24 at-large delegates, and 15 party leader delegates.

The good news is, even though we are vastly outnumbered by the Biden folks, Bernie delegates are activists, and we are punching above our weight. Nowhere is that more evident than the votes we are casting at the DNC. Although the virtual convention starts next week, voting has been going on since last Monday, August 3. And today, hundreds of us are coordinating to cast our votes at 3 p.m. That’s what I am writing to you about.

Here are the votes that I and almost 800 other delegates will cast today:

Ballot #1 — Nomination for the Democratic Candidate for President

The choices here are Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Abstain. I am voting for Senator Bernie Sanders as I was elected by you all to do and I am pledged to do. Although Bernie suspended his campaign, he did not drop out as the other candidates did, but kept his name on the ballot. I am fulfilling my pledge to vote to nominate him for president.

Ballot #2 — Approval of the Democratic Party Platform

The choices here are Yes, No, and Abstain. I am joining almost 800 other delegates from around the country to vote NO on the Democratic Party Platform. Although the platform did include some good things to address climate change, it failed to include Medicare for All. The Platform Committee would not even vote to extend Medicare to people age 55 and older, a policy that Hillary Clinton supported in 2016.

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Instead the DNC platform calls for a public option — but here is the problem with a public option. As soon as we have a taxpayer-funded option, but private insurance is still allowed to exist for profit, the private corporations will dump their oldest and sickest patients into the public system. Then the public system will go bankrupt trying to pay for a disproportionate amount of care, while the private corporations continue to make a profit. Eventually the case will be made that public health care doesn’t work, and it will be defunded.

When we say we need Medicare for All, we mean ALL. The entire point of insurance is that it covers everyone. That allows the majority of people who are healthy to cover the minority of people who are sick. It also incentivizes preventive care and healthy lifestyles, including cleaning up the environment, so people don’t get sick in the first place. This is how it works in many other countries.

The United States is the only major country on earth without a publicly funded health care system. Why? Medicare for All would cover a lot more people for a lot less money. With a single-payer publicly funded health-care system, people can go back to school or start a new business without having to worry about getting sick or hurt. They can spend the money they would have been forced to pay to insurance and pharma executives on family necessities.

Most important, we are the only major country on earth where 40,000 people die per year due to lack of health care and 650,000 people go bankrupt each year due to medical costs. It is wrong and immoral that we as a country tolerate this, and it has to stop.

Historically the Democratic Party has fought for universal health care, from Harry Truman to Teddy Kennedy, and even Hillary Clinton in the 90s. We must become the party that fights for people and not corporations again. It’s time to take our party back, and that’s what this vote is about. Look on social media for the hashtags #M4AllNow and #DrawTheLine for more.

Ballot #3 — Approval of a Resolution Recommended by the Rules Committee

The choices here are Yes, No, and Abstain. I am voting YES. This vote pertains to the proposal by the Rules Committee for the selection of the Democratic nominee in upcoming elections. As you may know, progressives fought hard to remove superdelegates from the DNC nomination process. I went to the DNC meeting in Chicago where this decision was made, to lobby DNC leadership (see photo below). Superdelegates — or automatic delegates who can vote for whoever they want and are not pledged to any candidate — were created in 1982. There are 764 superdelegates, or about 16 percent of all DNC delegates who choose the nominee. If a primary is close, they could end up choosing who the Democrats nominate for president.

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In 2018, the Sanders members of the Rules Committee fought to eliminate superdelegates altogether. We were basically asking them to remove themselves from the nominating process. We didn’t get that, but we did get the stipulation that superdelegates could not vote in the first round of the primary unless their share of the vote would make no difference in the outcome — and even that reform was put into the “Call for the Convention,” which sets the rules for the 2020 convention but would lapse after that if not extended.

So the task of the Sanders delegates on the Rules Committee in 2020 was to get that reform made permanent. We did not get that, but we did get it extended to the 2024 convention. Thus, by voting on YES on the Rules Committee resolution, we are preventing superdelegates from returning to the first round of the Democratic primary in 2024. We are preventing a scenario where the media counts superdelegate votes before the votes are cast, as they did in 2016 when they continually made it look as if Bernie had no chance against Hillary, when clearly he did. We do not want that to happen again. Although no one wants to abolish superdelegates altogether more than I do, that proposal is unfortunately not on the table right now. But at least I can vote to vote to keep superdelegates from coming back again in 2024.

Moving forward

I know this isn’t the DNC convention we were hoping to have as Bernie delegates. 2020 has been a topsy-turvy year with developments no one could have foreseen, such as a $61 million bribery scandal at the Ohio Statehouse in which the House speaker was arrested on evidence gathered by a Koch brothers-affiliated Republican operative wearing a wire for the FBI. I don’t know about you, but I did not have THAT on my 2020 Bingo card!

But the fact is, our movement is making progress. Look at our recent elections. People like Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, and Cori Bush are joining the Squad in Congress, and current Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib have been re-elected by wide margins. Our movement isn’t going anywhere, and is in fact making progress. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we must build the world we need from the ground up. It won’t be done overnight, but it will be done. I know that from the incredible spirit and will of the Bernie delegates and progressive candidates from around the country that we have at the table now.

I encourage you to stay involved. Please consider joining any of the progressive organizations working to advance our issues and elect our candidates in Ohio. Theses include Our Revolution OhioDemocratic Socialists of AmericaSunrise Movement, and more. Because when we organize, we win!

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