Delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston last week were not chosen by strictly democratic means. A state-by-state quota system was used to ensure “diversity.”
The national Democratic Party requires state delegations to be approximately half female (or more). It also requires state parties to have diversity plans, but the nature of the plan beyond the gender quota is up to each state. States are not penalized for not reaching their diversity goals. When Democrats (and Republicans) vote in presidential primaries and caucuses, they usually do not vote for a candidate but for a slate of delegates pledged to support a particular candidate.
State Democratic Party diversity plans vary widely. Alabama has only one goal: Its delegation should be 35.4% black. Florida has a wider range of goals: 21.9% for blacks, 10% for homosexuals of either sex, 7.6% for Hispanics, two Native American delegates (which is less than 1% of the delegation), and two Asians or Pacific Islanders. California’s is even more complicated: 26% Hispanic, 16% black, 10% disabled, 9% Asian or Pacific Islander, 7% under age 30, 5% homosexual men, 5% homosexual women, and 1% Native American.
The Michigan Democratic Party seeks to pick Arab-Americans for 3% of its delegates. Fourteen states (and Puerto Rico) specify the percentage of delegates that should be homosexual.
University of Virginia Prof. Larry Sabato, a political expert who has attended seven Democratic conventions, told HUMAN EVENTS, “If the goal is 53 women, it’s okay if there’s only 50.” He said meeting the goals is easy because the state party leaders are able to augment delegates elected by localities with statewide delegates they pick themselves.
The Democratic National Committee reported that it came close to hitting its “diversity” goals for this convention. Delegates were 20.3% black, 11.3% Hispanic, 3.9% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.7% Native American, and almost half women. Statistics on sexual orientation were not available.
Sometimes state parties must scramble to meet their goals. The Tallahassee Democrat reported that the erroneously listed race and sexual orientation of some potential delegates caused last-minute difficulties in firming up the Florida delegation. “The [state party] executive committee met at Tallahassee Community College to elect 23 party officers and elected officials, plus 39 at-large delegates,” the paper said. “Contenders for those seats were listed by race, gender and sexual orientation, and [a party official] explained how many had to be picked to meet ‘goals’: a delegation 20% black, 50% female and 10% gay.”