Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) issued the following statement on June 1, 2008 in response to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Rules and Bylaws Committee’s ruling to seat Florida’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention with only 1/2 of a vote per person.
“It is with reluctance and disappointment that I accept the DNC’s decision today. I do so not because I agree with the decision but because it is time for us to move on and focus on winning in November.
“I applaud Karen Thurman and the Florida Democratic Party, Robert Wexler, Bill Nelson and others who represented our state and the candidates for doing the best they could with a bad situation.
“Florida Democrats have been serially abused and the DNC is the latest of offenders. How the DNC has the authority to ignore the votes of ‘Jack and Jane Lunch Bucket’ is beyond my understanding. The insiders who actively sought to disillusion and disenfranchise the more than 1.75 million Florida Democrats who voted on January 29 give new meaning to collective arrogance.
“The DNC’s decision today ignores the core principle of our great democracy: the right to vote. I know that the 1.75 million Democrats who voted on January 29 count and don’t give a damn what the DNC rules pronounce.
“Going to a party’s convention is a privilege. Courts have said that political parties have a right to make their rules. In this case, the DNC has chosen to take away that privilege from people who I believe have earned the right to participate in the National Convention in Denver with a full vote. As Americans, we should never insinuate or give vent to taking away the constitutional, time honored, died for, and cherished rights of voters from any state. Yet that is what today’s decision has done to the people of Florida and Michigan.
“I suppose the DNC has the right to block Democrats in Florida from attending the National Convention. They also have the right to be stupid, and stupid they are.
“At the beginning of our great country’s history my ancestors were counted as only 2/3 of a person. Until passage of the 15th Amendment in 1870, they weren’t allowed to vote. During that same time and until 1920, women could not vote. White men who did not own property could not vote at one point in our history as well.
“Now, on May 31, 2008, a group of elitist insiders of the DNC have effectively said that some of my ancestors’ progeny equal only 1/2 and that men and women in Florida who voted on January 29th are 1/2 also. For a Party which will crown its historic nominee on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, the DNC’s decision today is tragically ironic.
“As a matter of protest, I do not intend to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
“Despite all of this, too much is at stake this November. I refuse to allow those who have done me and my constituents wrong to stop us from taking back our country. Together, we will do whatever it takes to increase our majority in the House and Senate and win the Presidency.
“While I cannot speak for others, I do not intend to take any further legal action against the DNC. If I believed that we could win, believe me, I would act and so would others. But based on case history, it is an uphill battle screaming for a change in federal law.
“I will, however, spend enormous energy on convincing my colleagues in Congress that we must create a rotating regional Presidential primary system. 30 political insiders – nearly all of whom ain’t ever been elected to a damn thing in their lives– must never again have the ability to reject the will of and unilaterally disenfranchise 1.75 million voters.
“This election is bigger than Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton. It is certainly bigger than the DNC. There are over 46 million Americans who are uninsured, gas and energy costs are spiraling out of control, America’s economy is faltering, and U.S. troops are dying nearly every day in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will take the energy and resources of all of us to fix these problems and the others facing our nation.
“As Florida voters have demonstrated time and time again, we will rise above those who have sought to silence our voices and vote big and win in November.”
Representative Hastings joined Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Representative Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) in suing the DNC in December 2007 on the grounds that the DNC’s decision to strip Florida Democrats of their votes at the DNC National Convention in Denver is a violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For the last six months, Representative Hastings has led efforts calling on the DNC to reinstate Florida’s 211 delegates to the National Convention. A leader in Congressional election reform efforts, Representative Hastings was the former Vice Chair of the Democratic Special Committee on Election Reform following the 2000 election debacle and recently authored bi-partisan, bi-cameral legislation establishing a rotating regional Presidential primary system.