Ted Kennedy Remembers the 1980 Democratic Convention
In 1980, Senator Ted Kennedy ran against incumbent Jimmy Carter. Kennedy lost to Carter and he went to the convention.
From our Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project, Kennedy reflected back on that convention. His speech was well remembered, including the awkward moment of a handshake.
Kennedy: . think going into the convention, the focus was on what they call “the faithful delegate.” We had been doing better across the country, and the Democrats seemed to be increasingly interested in our candidacy. One of the things was that some of the delegates selected and pledged to Carter early appeared to have been willing to support my candidacy later in the process, but there had been a change in the rules put in by Carter that said that once a delegate was selected as pledged, they had to stay that way. They call it the “faithful delegate rule,” which means that if they pledged, they couldn’t change their mind. That caused resentment with the delegates, just generally was not popular. So we made that our principal target: the platform on issues of the economy and health and other domestic and foreign policy issues, and to change the faithful delegate rule.
We had an outside chance of changing the faithful delegate rule, and it needed to have the combination of—I remember Cyril Wecht of Pennsylvania having 15 or 20 votes, and then there were some blacks in South Carolina who were prepared to go. Others were prepared to go—Louisiana and some of the others—but all of them wanted to be the ones who put us over. They didn’t want to be the base group. We couldn’t get some to be willing to be the base group to start the vote to change the rule. All of them wanted to be the ones to put them over. And so finally Paul Kirk just said, “We can’t do it. We can’t put those numbers together.” Even though I’d gone around and spoken in a lot of these caucuses, even in the caucuses that had not had overwhelming Kennedy support, and we got a great reception in those caucuses.
I had a meeting with Carter before the convention. We had challenged him to a debate and indicated that if we had the debate, I might be willing to withdraw. He was giving that consideration, and then he said that we’d express our views through the platform committees.
Things about the speech that were very important are that every night when I got back to the hotel at 10:30, my sisters were there. All of my sisters: Jean [Kennedy Smith], Pat [Kennedy Lawford], and Eunice [Kennedy Shriver] were there. And they would come in the room, and they would work for a couple of hours on the talk. The beginning part was authored and suggested, and other parts were done by [Robert] Shrum, but the part that bothers me and troubles me is the box that had all of these changes is gone. Someone stole it out of my office. So I don’t have the record from the very earliest copies to the very end.
That speech was completely altered and completely changed. We laid it out on the floor, put all of it out on the floor, and I can always remember being upstairs, and all my sisters were reading different parts of it, saying, “Look, Teddy, you have this part here. ” They have very good judgment and very good political sense and are really good editors. Pat reads it, and used to read everything, and is very good, and Jean as well, and Eunice has a lot of common sense. And they all were very sharp. They’re still sharp, but they were particularly sharp then, and they had all been a part of the campaign. They had a very important impact. I remember that, and that’s never gotten out, but every night from about ten to one—we weren’t doing anything in the evenings, but every night we came back there and worked on it and made changes. They’d redraft that part in the second, and incorporate that thing, and it would be there again the next night.
Dr. Stephen Knott: We really should get on the record the handshake lore.
Kennedy: Well, after my speech, there was a wonderful reaction and a great reception for it. We stayed there for some time, and then went back to the hotel. I was there the next day. The next day, actually, at lunch, I went with my sisters to P.J. Clarke’s. I remember having hamburgers and stuff like that coming back.
I can’t remember. Was mine Tuesday night? And then we had the platform, I think this was Wednesday? And then he spoke Thursday night? Was that what it was? They were there Wednesday, and they were doing the platform. I couldn’t believe that we were still battling and fighting over the platform. We were getting calls all afternoon and through the evening about, “We will take this we won’t take that. ” And someone said, “Well, they have the votes to vote it, but we could have minority reports,” so the people were going to be able to still speak about these things, which drove the Carter people crazy, too.
We had all of this tension going all the way through, and I had a very substantial group of supporters who said they would be very offended after all of this battle on the platform if I even went on the stage with Carter. There was a very substantial group. And then there was another group who said, “You should.” But I think it was very disputed—very good people, too.
The Carter people weren’t really sure whether I was going to stay, but they didn’t make any effort. I was there all day Wednesday and all day Thursday, as I mentioned. He could have said, “Well, you come down I’d love to see you, and bring your family down. Rosalynn [Carter] would love to thank you.” They could have gotten all the pictures in the world at that place, and, “I’d like to ask you if you can come on up.” I’d have to say yes, or done it on Thursday. Or come up to my place! That would have been gracious, to come up and say, “Can I come by and congratulate you?” That’s what I thought probably he’d do. You think in your own mind that’s probably what you’d do.
But they were continuing to fight on these things. We were still fighting with them on it. And then there was a question whether we would go, but I had told them that we felt that I would go, and that’s when I told the Secret Service we’d leave at night afterwards. I had to go back, because that’s when Secret Service leaves you. They leave you off at home that night, and boom, they’re gone. And so, I said, “Well, where will we be?” And they said, “You can stay in a hotel, because your reception will run 25 minutes, and his will go 25-35.” I said, “That’s fine.”
So, boom! His speech ended down we went. We had an escort down there. For 15 minutes, 17 minutes, it was silent in that place. The whole thing was all over. And so, instead of going to the holding room, all I heard was, “Come on up! You’ve got to run up! Everybody’s worrying, wondering, ‘Where the hell have you been?’” They were bitching because I was late. It’s unbelievable because when I said I’d stay there, it was fine with me. I didn’t care. “No, no. You don’t have to.”
And then, as you saw, when I went on the platform, they had a whole series of other people who went on. I shook his hand, shook Rosalynn’s hand. And right behind me was Tip O’Neill, and right behind him was the party—Bob Strauss, and a whole series of party leaders all crowding in there. You look at the picture of that podium, there are 30 people there, and not just me and him, and me over on the side. You could see all the other people who were going there. Mondale was on that. Joan Mondale was there. We had the one picture facing the crowd where Carter was on the one side, and I think it’s Bob Strauss and Mondale, and then me, and then next to me is, I think, Mrs. Carter. I think she came over, pulled me on in.
I must have shaken hands with him two or three times. But I didn’t elevate his hand he made no effort to elevate mine! I thought it was proper enough. But, as the press pointed out, there wouldn’t be any pictures of me raising his hand, which I had not expected to do, but if he had raised both of our hands, I would not have resisted it, certainly.
We had a conversation some time afterward. I’m amazed that we don’t have the notes, because I always remember writing notes every time I’ve sat down with a President about what we were going to do, or what I was going to do in the campaign. I asked him for some help on a couple of dinners, and he said he would help, and he asked me to go to some of the places, and I said I would.
Bryan Craig is a Senior Researcher for the Presidential Oral History Program and has worked on the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project
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Thanks very much, Barbara Mikulski, for your very eloquent, your eloquent introduction. Distinguished legislator, great spokeswoman for economic democracy and social justice in this country, I thank you for your eloquent introduction.
Well, things worked out a little different from the way I thought, but let me tell you, I still love New York.
My fellow Democrats and my fellow Americans, I have come here tonight not to argue as a candidate but to affirm a cause.
I'm asking you -- I am asking you to renew the commitment of the Democratic Party to economic justice.
I am asking you to renew our commitment to a fair and lasting prosperity that can put America back to work.
This is the cause that brought me into the campaign and that sustained me for nine months across a 100,000 miles in 40 different states. We had our losses, but the pain of our defeats is far, far less than the pain of the people that I have met.
We have learned that it is important to take issues seriously, but never to take ourselves too seriously.
The serious issue before us tonight is the cause for which the Democratic Party has stood in its finest hours, the cause that keeps our Party young and makes it, in the second century of its age, the largest political Party in this republic and the longest lasting political Party on this planet.
Our cause has been, since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the cause of the common man and the common woman.
Our commitment has been, since the days of Andrew Jackson, to all those he called "the humble members of society -- the farmers, mechanics, and laborers." On this foundation we have defined our values, refined our policies, and refreshed our faith.
Now I take the unusual step of carrying the cause and the commitment of my campaign personally to our national convention. I speak out of a deep sense of urgency about the anguish and anxiety I have seen across America.
I speak out of a deep belief in the ideals of the Democratic Party, and in the potential of that Party and of a President to make a difference. And I speak out of a deep trust in our capacity to proceed with boldness and a common vision that will feel and heal the suffering of our time and the divisions of our Party.
The economic plank of this platform on its face concerns only material things, but it is also a moral issue that I raise tonight. It has taken many forms over many years. In this campaign and in this country that we seek to lead, the challenge in 1980 is to give our voice and our vote for these fundamental democratic principles.
Let us pledge that we will never misuse unemployment, high interest rates, and human misery as false weapons against inflation.
Let us pledge that employment will be the first priority of our economic policy.
Let us pledge that there will be security for all those who are now at work, and let us pledge that there will be jobs for all who are out of work and we will not compromise on the issues of jobs.
These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition, and they have been the soul of our Party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.
We dare not forsake that tradition.
We cannot let the great purposes of the Democratic Party become the bygone passages of history.
We must not permit the Republicans to seize and run on the slogans of prosperity. We heard the orators at their convention all trying to talk like Democrats. They proved that even Republican nominees can quote Franklin Roosevelt to their own purpose.
The Grand Old Party thinks it has found a great new trick, but 40 years ago an earlier generation of Republicans attempted the same trick. And Franklin Roosevelt himself replied, "Most Republican leaders have bitterly fought and blocked the forward surge of average men and women in their pursuit of happiness. Let us not be deluded that overnight those leaders have suddenly become the friends of average men and women."
"You know," he continued, "very few of us are that gullible." And four years later when the Republicans tried that trick again, Franklin Roosevelt asked, "Can the Old Guard pass itself off as the New Deal? I think not. We have all seen many marvelous stunts in the circus, but no performing elephant could turn a handspring without falling flat on its back."
The 1980 Republican convention was awash with crocodile tears for our economic distress, but it is by their long record and not their recent words that you shall know them.
The same Republicans who are talking about the crisis of unemployment have nominated a man who once said, and I quote, "Unemployment insurance is a prepaid vacation plan for freeloaders." And that nominee is no friend of labor.
The same Republicans who are talking about the problems of the inner cities have nominated a man who said, and I quote, "I have included in my morning and evening prayers every day the prayer that the Federal Government not bail out New York." And that nominee is no friend of this city and our great urban centers across this nation.
The same Republicans who are talking about security for the elderly have nominated a man who said just four years ago that "Participation in social security should be made voluntary." And that nominee is no friend of the senior citizens of this nation.
The same Republicans who are talking about preserving the environment have nominated a man who last year made the preposterous statement, and I quote, "Eighty percent of our air pollution comes from plants and trees." And that nominee is no friend of the environment.
And the same Republicans who are invoking Franklin Roosevelt have nominated a man who said in 1976, and these are his exact words, "Fascism was really the basis of the New Deal." And that nominee whose name is Ronald Reagan has no right to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The great adventures which our opponents offer is a voyage into the past. Progress is our heritage, not theirs. What is right for us as Democrats is also the right way for Democrats to win.
The commitment I seek is not to outworn views but to old values that will never wear out. Programs may sometimes become obsolete, but the ideal of fairness always endures. Circumstances may change, but the work of compassion must continue. It is surely correct that we cannot solve problems by throwing money at them, but it is also correct that we dare not throw out our national problems onto a scrap heap of inattention and indifference. The poor may be out of political fashion, but they are not without human needs. The middle class may be angry, but they have not lost the dream that all Americans can advance together.
The demand of our people in 1980 is not for smaller government or bigger government but for better government. Some say that government is always bad and that spending for basic social programs is the root of our economic evils. But we reply: The present inflation and recession cost our economy 200 billion dollars a year. We reply: Inflation and unemployment are the biggest spenders of all.
The task of leadership in 1980 is not to parade scapegoats or to seek refuge in reaction, but to match our power to the possibilities of progress. While others talked of free enterprise, it was the Democratic Party that acted and we ended excessive regulation in the airline and trucking industry, and we restored competition to the marketplace. And I take some satisfaction that this deregulation legislation that I sponsored and passed in the Congress of the United States.
As Democrats we recognize that each generation of Americans has a rendezvous with a different reality. The answers of one generation become the questions of the next generation. But there is a guiding star in the American firmament. It is as old as the revolutionary belief that all people are created equal, and as clear as the contemporary condition of Liberty City and the South Bronx. Again and again Democratic leaders have followed that star and they have given new meaning to the old values of liberty and justice for all.
We are the Party -- We are the Party of the New Freedom, the New Deal, and the New Frontier. We have always been the Party of hope. So this year let us offer new hope, new hope to an America uncertain about the present, but unsurpassed in its potential for the future.
To all those who are idle in the cities and industries of America let us provide new hope for the dignity of useful work. Democrats have always believed that a basic civil right of all Americans is that their right to earn their own way. The Party of the people must always be the Party of full employment.
To all those who doubt the future of our economy, let us provide new hope for the reindustrialization of America. And let our vision reach beyond the next election or the next year to a new generation of prosperity. If we could rebuild Germany and Japan after World War II, then surely we can reindustrialize our own nation and revive our inner cities in the 1980's.
To all those who work hard for a living wage let us provide new hope that their price of their employment shall not be an unsafe workplace and a death at an earlier age.
To all those who inhabit our land from California to the New York Island, from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf stream waters, let us provide new hope that prosperity shall not be purchased by poisoning the air, the rivers, and the natural resources that are the greatest gift of this continent. We must insist that our children and our grandchildren shall inherit a land which they can truly call America the beautiful.
To all those who see the worth of their work and their savings taken by inflation, let us offer new hope for a stable economy. We must meet the pressures of the present by invoking the full power of government to master increasing prices. In candor, we must say that the Federal budget can be balanced only by policies that bring us to a balanced prosperity of full employment and price restraint.
And to all those overburdened by an unfair tax structure, let us provide new hope for real tax reform. Instead of shutting down classrooms, let us shut off tax shelters. Instead of cutting out school lunches, let us cut off tax subsidies for expensive business lunches that are nothing more than food stamps for the rich.
The tax cut of our Republican opponents takes the name of tax reform in vain. It is a wonderfully Republican idea that would redistribute income in the wrong direction. It's good news for any of you with incomes over 200,000 dollars a year. For the few of you, it offers a pot of gold worth 14,000 dollars. But the Republican tax cut is bad news for the middle income families. For the many of you, they plan a pittance of 200 dollars a year, and that is not what the Democratic Party means when we say tax reform.
The vast majority of Americans cannot afford this panacea from a Republican nominee who has denounced the progressive income tax as the invention of Karl Marx. I am afraid he has confused Karl Marx with Theodore Roosevelt -- that obscure Republican president who sought and fought for a tax system based on ability to pay. Theodore Roosevelt was not Karl Marx, and the Republican tax scheme is not tax reform.
Finally, we cannot have a fair prosperity in isolation from a fair society. So I will continue to stand for a national health insurance. We must -- We must not surrender -- We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family's health shall never depend on the size of a family's wealth.
The President, the Vice President, the members of Congress have a medical plan that meets their needs in full, and whenever senators and representatives catch a little cold, the Capitol physician will see them immediately, treat them promptly, fill a prescription on the spot. We do not get a bill even if we ask for it, and when do you think was the last time a member of Congress asked for a bill from the Federal Government? And I say again, as I have before, if health insurance is good enough for the President, the Vice President, the Congress of the United States, then it's good enough for you and every family in America.
There were some -- There were some who said we should be silent about our differences on issues during this convention, but the heritage of the Democratic Party has been a history of democracy. We fight hard because we care deeply about our principles and purposes. We did not flee this struggle. We welcome the contrast with the empty and expedient spectacle last month in Detroit where no nomination was contested, no question was debated, and no one dared to raise any doubt or dissent.
Democrats can be proud that we chose a different course and a different platform.
We can be proud that our Party stands for investment in safe energy, instead of a nuclear future that may threaten the future itself. We must not permit the neighborhoods of America to be permanently shadowed by the fear of another Three Mile Island.
We can be proud that our Party stands for a fair housing law to unlock the doors of discrimination once and for all. The American house will be divided against itself so long as there is prejudice against any American buying or renting a home.
And we can be proud that our Party stands plainly and publicly and persistently for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Women hold their rightful place at our convention, and women must have their rightful place in the Constitution of the United States. On this issue we will not yield we will not equivocate we will not rationalize, explain, or excuse. We will stand for E.R.A. and for the recognition at long last that our nation was made up of founding mothers as well as founding fathers.
A fair prosperity and a just society are within our vision and our grasp, and we do not have every answer. There are questions not yet asked, waiting for us in the recesses of the future. But of this much we can be certain because it is the lesson of all of our history: Together a President and the people can make a difference. I have found that faith still alive wherever I have traveled across this land. So let us reject the counsel of retreat and the call to reaction. Let us go forward in the knowledge that history only helps those who help themselves.
There will be setbacks and sacrifices in the years ahead but I am convinced that we as a people are ready to give something back to our country in return for all it has given to us.
Let this -- Let this be our commitment: Whatever sacrifices must be made will be shared and shared fairly. And let this be our confidence: At the end of our journey and always before us shines that ideal of liberty and justice for all.
In closing, let me say a few words to all those that I have met and to all those who have supported me at this convention and across the country. There were hard hours on our journey, and often we sailed against the wind. But always we kept our rudder true, and there were so many of you who stayed the course and shared our hope. You gave your help but even more, you gave your hearts.
And because of you, this has been a happy campaign. You welcomed Joan, me, and our family into your homes and neighborhoods, your churches, your campuses, your union halls. And when I think back of all the miles and all the months and all the memories, I think of you. And I recall the poet's words, and I say: "What golden friends I had."
Among you, my golden friends across this land, I have listened and learned.
I have listened to Kenny Dubois, a glassblower in Charleston, West Virginia, who has ten children to support but has lost his job after 35 years, just three years short of qualifying for his pension.
I have listened to the Trachta family who farm in Iowa and who wonder whether they can pass the good life and the good earth on to their children.
I have listened to the grandmother in East Oakland who no longer has a phone to call her grandchildren because she gave it up to pay the rent on her small apartment.
I have listened to young workers out of work, to students without the tuition for college, and to families without the chance to own a home.
I have seen the closed factories and the stalled assembly lines of Anderson, Indiana and South Gate, California, and I have seen too many, far too many idle men and women desperate to work.
I have seen too many, far too many working families desperate to protect the value of their wages from the ravages of inflation.
Yet I have also sensed a yearning for a new hope among the people in every state where I have been.
And I have felt it in their handshakes, I saw it in their faces, and I shall never forget the mothers who carried children to our rallies.
I shall always remember the elderly who have lived in an America of high purpose and who believe that it can all happen again.
Tonight, in their name, I have come here to speak for them. And for their sake, I ask you to stand with them. On their behalf I ask you to restate and reaffirm the timeless truth of our Party.
I congratulate President Carter on his victory here.
I am -- I am confident that the Democratic Party will reunite on the basis of Democratic principles, and that together we will march towards a Democratic victory in 1980.
And someday, long after this convention, long after the signs come down and the crowds stop cheering, and the bands stop playing, may it be said of our campaign that we kept the faith.
May it be said of our Party in 1980 that we found our faith again.
And may it be said of us, both in dark passages and in bright days, in the words of Tennyson that my brothers quoted and loved, and that have special meaning for me now:
"I am a part of all that I have met
To [Tho] much is taken, much abides
That which we are, we are --
One equal temper of heroic hearts
Strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end.
For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
As we know only too well, getting the support of political parties for LGBT rights can be (and has been) a long and arduous process. Such was the case with the United States Democratic Party, which had debated the issue for a number of years before finally incorporating LGBT rights into its political platform in 1980.
The first signs of movement were in 1972 when openly LGBT speakers Madeline Davis and Jim Foster were allowed to address the Democratic National Convention. The mere fact that this happened is a reflection of the increasing levels of LGBT political organisation across the country.
In the 60s and 70s, for example, LGBT political candidates were largely restricted to local campaigns in areas with high queer populations, such as San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. But it soon became clear to both the candidates and the Democratic Party that LGBT voters could have significant political clout. In consequence, LGBT rights moved increasingly onto the national political agenda.
Of course it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Despite Davis and Foster’s ground-breaking speeches in 1972, there were still many in the Party who feared that LGBT rights would be a vote-loser. For example, another speaker at the 1972 convention – Kathy Wilch – made a particularly hostile speech and this resulted in LGBT rights being kept off the Democratic political agenda.
Whilst Wilch’s speech served to delay the Democrats commitment to LGBT rights, it also served to galvanise LGBT activists within and outside of the Democratic Party. And Davis and Foster’s speeches did manage to flag up to non-LGBT politicians the importance of the LGBT vote. So much so, that Democrat Presidential candidate George McGovern quickly issued a statement distancing himself from Wilch’s position.
Four years later, Jimmy Carter also pursued the LGBT vote during his Presidential campaign and met with LGBT community leaders following his election. (Sadly, he failed to deliver on his election promises).
And so the momentum continued to grow and LGBT rights were again brought to the Democratic Convention in 1980 this time with considerably more success. In practice this meant little more than amending their anti-discrimination statement to include sexual orientation. But it was at least a starting point upon which to build.
Tv The Presidency Jimmy Carter 1980 Democratic National Convention CSPAN August 23, 2020 10:21am-11:15am EDT
President Jimmy Carter (D) accepted his party's presidential nomination for a second term at the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York City. In his speech, President Carter called the ideas of his opponent Ronald Reagan "fantasy America," and attacked Mr. Reagan's defense spending and tax cut plans.
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The Craziest Convention Moments You’ve Never Heard Of
Convention history is dotted with dramatic, even farcical, events that have changed the course of politics.
Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network television analyst and author.
A legion of political journalists is heading to Cleveland this month with a sense of anticipation that’s been absent for decades: at long last, a national convention with the prospect that something unexpected might actually happen.
After decades of suspenseless, pro forma conventions where the identity of the party’s nominee has been known for months in advance and every moment has been as scripted as a corporate product launch, the Republican National Convention at least holds out the possibility for something approaching unpredictability.
Will Trump face a delegate walkout? Will Ted Cruz’s army whip together the votes to change convention rules and unbind delegates? Will the party, in a wild election season, find some way to break out of the droning, made-for-TV coronation that the conventions have become?
Boring conventions weren’t always the norm. Throughout most of American history, in fact, raucous and mercurial gatherings were the rule rather than the exception. The unexpected was routine—grand speeches, lost battles, dragged-out fights with meaningful implications for the course of the country.
Now, as Donald Trump seeks to finally and officially win the nomination of a party that his candidacy has badly fractured, there’s at least a chance that some of that old high drama could return.
And if not, there’s still a chance that something meaningful will happen. History is dotted with less-famous convention moments that have provided the drama—even farce—that added spice to what has become a diet of gruel. And sometimes they, too, changed the course of politics.
FDR and the Voice From the Sewer
In 1940, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was halfway through his eighth year in office and at pains not to be seen breaking the “no third term” tradition that had been recognized by every president since George Washington. Roosevelt himself had often expressed his wish to retire, but with Europe engulfed in war and a strong isolationist movement resisting any attempt to help beleaguered Britain, the absence of Roosevelt could prove decisive for both party and country.
There were big-name Democrats eager to succeed him for the nomination, including Vice President John Nance Garner, and longtime FDR aide James Farley. But one question loomed over Democratic convention-goers in Chicago: What were Roosevelt’s real intentions?
The answer to that key question became even more uncertain after Kentucky Senator Alben Barkley read a message from Roosevelt to the assembled convention: “[The president] wishes in earnestness and sincerity to make it clear that all of the delegates in this convention are free to vote for any candidate.”
Any candidate? Did that include Roosevelt himself? In the confusion, before a debate could break out in the convention hall, a voice suddenly roared over the loudspeakers: “Illinois Wants Roosevelt! Ohio Wants Roosevelt! We All Want Roosevelt!”
Delegates quickly joined in on the chant, and “We Want Roosevelt!” echoed through the Chicago Stadium rafters.
And whom did that voice on the loudspeakers belong to? None other than Thomas Garry, superintendent of Chicago’s Department of Sanitation and—more importantly—boss of the 27th Ward and a loyal footsoldier of Chicago Mayor Ed Kelly, a New Dealer and an FDR loyalist.
History does not reveal whether this “voice from the sewers” was Kelly’s brainchild or was inspired by people inside Roosevelt’s inner circle. What is clear is that the rallying cry helped stampede the convention into nominating FDR for a third term in office. Garner and Farley, who had entered the convention as the most popular declared candidates, each ended up with less than 7 percent of the vote. The unexpected intervention over the P.A. system made a decisive difference in who led the nation through the Second World War.
Reagan’s “Co-Presidency” Tease
Ronald Reagan had locked up the 1980 Republican nomination long before the party gathered in Detroit. But two days into the convention, an incredible story was spreading: Reagan was seriously considering naming former President Gerald Ford, the man he had nearly unseated four years earlier, as his running mate. Ford more or less confirmed the rumors in a series of TV interviews. CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite pinned down Ford, asking whether he and Reagan were considering a “co-presidency.” Ford didn’t shoot down the rumors and, as the interview progressed, displayed a deep knowledge of the constitutional complications that such an arrangement would produce.
Allies of the two men were meeting to discuss the terms of such a deal. Would ex-President Ford be given “portfolios” to manage—say, foreign policy? Would Henry Kissinger return to power under a President Reagan, who had for years denounced Kissinger’s foreign policy approach? Late into Wednesday night, the convention came to a standstill, and delegates on the floor were buttonholing TV reporters to ask about the latest rumors (it was a pre-cellphone age).
The expectations turned to near certainty—Reagan and Ford were heading to the convention! And then Reagan himself, in a sharp break with tradition, came to the hall, unaccompanied, to say that the much-discussed “co-presidency” would not happen. He had chosen a running mate: his rival during the primary campaign, George H.W. Bush.
It was in political terms, a near-escape for Reagan. That year, the Democrats’ chief critique of Reagan was that he was in over his head. The specter of a nominee turning to a defeated ex-president for gravitas would not only have fed that narrative, but validated the accusation.
Two Speeches That Launched Presidencies (And Two That Didn’t)
The best-known convention speech in American history is almost surely the fiery attack that 36-year-old former Nebraska Congressman William Jennings Bryan made on the gold standard at the 1896 Democratic Convention. “You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns!” he thundered. “You shall not crucify mankind upon a Cross of Gold!” The speech propelled Bryan into the first of three losing campaigns as the party’s presidential nominee.
Bryan, however, never won the White House. By contrast, look at what happened after a far less memorable speech at the 1924 Democratic National Convention in New York. A promising political figure, Franklin D. Roosevelt, had served as assistant secretary of the Navy during the Great War, and in 1920, was the Democratic candidate for vice president. A year after that campaign, he was disabled by polio. It was certain that this disability would sideline his designs on running for a higher office. But in 1924, the 42-year-old Roosevelt maneuvered himself up to the rostrum at Madison Square Garden and entered New York Governor Al Smith’s name into nomination. It marked Roosevelt’s return to politics. Four years later, he succeeded Smith as governor of New York eight years after that, he won the presidency in a landslide election.
Decades later, another promising 42-year-old Democrat gave a more memorable though equally historic speech. In 2004 in Boston, Democratic convention-goers listened to an obscure Illinois state senator with an odd name enrapture delegates with his assertion that “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.” Barack Obama’s introduction to a national audience was a powerful tutorial on how you can tell if a convention speech is truly memorable: the delegates stop cheering every 10 seconds, and actually begin to listen.
At the other end of the spectrum, Texas Senator Phil Gramm was picked to keynote the 1992 GOP convention in Houston. Gramm was a man of high intelligence, undisguised presidential ambitions, and minimal people skills (“even his best friends can’t stand him,” according to one popular gibe). A few minutes into his address, Gramm was talking about President Bush unveiling a new commemorative postage stamp. It was clear that Gramm was not connecting with his audience: The delegates weren’t cheering, and they weren’t really interested in listening to him, either. He continued to speak for a half hour more. It was an early clue that Gramm’s 1996 presidential bid would not end well.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter limped into the New York convention after a bruising primary battle with Senator Ted Kennedy. After an effort to “unbind” the delegates failed, Kennedy conceded to Carter in a lofty, moving speech with a rousing conclusion: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”
The bar was high for Carter’s acceptance speech: It needed not only to inspire a divided convention but also deliver an image of unity to viewers in the hall and watching at home: The president needed a friendly Carter-Kennedy embrace, and a festive post-speech celebration.
It didn’t quite happen like that. In his acceptance speech, Carter tried to pay tribute to liberal champions of the past, including “a great man who should have been president, who would have been one of the greatest presidents in history: Hubert Horatio Hornblower—Humphrey!”, thus conflating the name of Minnesota’s progressive champion with that of a fictional British naval officer.
But the “Hornblower” flub was a mere prelude to twin disasters at the end of his address.
First, when his defeated primary foe, Kennedy, came to the platform, Carter desperately wanted the “arms raised in victory” photo shot Kennedy offered only a tepid handshake. Second and simultaneously, the obligatory balloon drop became snarled in the rigging of Madison Square Garden instead of the anticipated blizzard of red, white and blue, there came a pathetic dribble of occasional balloons, as though the convention hall had become afflicted with an enlarged prostate. (In 2004, the same thing happened to the balloons in Boston after John Kerry’s acceptance speech CNN somehow managed to broadcast it with audio of the increasingly frenetic and obscenity-laced demands of a convention logistics manager, who likely knew full well how the news media would seize on the incident as a symbol of a faltering campaign.)
The “Undermine the Catholic” Plan
There was a time when newspapers would print “scorecards” so that radio listeners and TV viewers at home could watch how candidates’ fortunes ebbed and flowed through several convention ballots. They haven’t done it in a while, probably because the last time any major-party national convention went past a first ballot was in 1956—and it wasn’t to choose a presidential nominee.
After winning the presidential nomination for the second time, former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson jolted the delegates by throwing open the vice-presidential contest—in effect, letting the delegates decide who his running mate should be. It was designed to provide a dramatic contrast to Vice President Nixon, who was far less popular than incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Through two ballots, Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver and Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy staged a back-and-forth race, with Tennessee’s other Senator, Al Gore Sr., providing the difference. Following the second ballot, JFK was only a handful of delegates away from victory (he had 618 votes out of the required 687), and state delegations clamored for the recognition of the chair so that they could switch their votes. It was up to the convention chair, House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, to decide which state would be called upon first. Rayburn, fearing the presence of a Roman Catholic on the ticket, recognized Tennessee—whereupon Gore withdrew from the race, threw his support to Kefauver, and the stampede was on.
In one sense, it made little difference: There was no way Stevenson was going to deprive Eisenhower of a second term. In another sense, what did not happen proved to be a godsend: As Kennedy himself later observed, if the Democrats had lost in a landslide with JFK on the ticket, it would have been “proof” that a Catholic was still politically unacceptable to the American electorate—prematurely derailing his victorious presidential campaign just four years later.
Will we see anything in Cleveland that approaches such genuinely unpredictable and historic levels? If the 2016 GOP convention—with all of the passions surrounding the impending nomination of Donald Trump—winds up being a by-the-numbers infomercial, maybe it’s time to give up on conventions and take a lesson from the Democratic Party in 1872.
When Democrats met in Baltimore that year, they were so bereft of viable presidential candidates that they simply decided to nominate Horace Greeley, the candidate of a breakaway Republican faction opposed to GOP President Ulysses Grant, and a journalist, no less.
Carter: Kennedy was drinking before 1980 snub
By Steve Kornacki
Published September 20, 2010 7:12PM (EDT)
Jimmy Carter, left, shakes hands with Sen. Edward Kennedy on the podium at the Democratic National Convention in 1980.
This week marks the publication of Jimmy Carter's private journal of his presidency, "White House Diary." The entries are often brief, but Carter does offer an interesting account of one of the most widely discussed moments of his doomed 1980 reelection effort: Ted Kennedy's apparent snub of him on the final night of the Democratic convention in New York, just after Carter had delivered his acceptance speech.
"Afterward," Carter writes in his diary, "Kennedy drove over from his hotel, appeared on the platform along with a lot of other people, seemed to have had a few drinks, which I probably would have done myself. He was fairly cool and reserved, but the press made a big deal of it."
They sure did -- and for good reason. Kennedy's challenge of Carter for the '80 nod was unusually bitter and protracted. Even though Carter won twice as many delegates in the primary and caucus season, Kennedy fought all the way to the August convention, attempting to convince delegates to support a rule change that would have allowed them to vote their conscience on the first ballot -- instead of being forced to cast a ballot for the candidate they'd been pledged to during the primary season. Only when this effort failed did Kennedy back down and end his campaign (with what was probably the best speech of his career). So it was only logical that the press would watch the body language closely when the two men came together onstage after Carter's acceptance speech two nights later -- and Kennedy's discomfort was obvious. As the Washington Post reported it:
When Kennedy did arrive, wearing that familiar tight-lipped smile his traveling press corps has come to call "the smirk," he strode into the crowd of Democratic officials already on the podium, gave Carter a perfunctory shake of the hand, and walked away to the side of the platform.
There followed a comical ballet in which Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter and House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (Mass.) all tried futilely to lead Kennedy back to center stage for an arms-up pose with the president.
When Kennedy went to the left side of the platform to raise a fist toward his Massachusetts delegation, Carter made a beeline to join him and struck the same pose. But Kennedy's arm had come down a split-second before Carter's shot up.
You can watch some of Kennedy's snub of Carter in this video:
Carter has already rasied eyebrows while promoting his diaries. In a "60 Minutes" segment that aired over the weekend, he told Lesley Stahl that "we would have had comprehensive healthcare now, had it not been for Ted Kennedy’s deliberately blocking the legislation that I proposed" as president. "It was his fault," Carter added. "Ted Kennedy killed the bill."
Steve Kornacki is an MSNBC host and political correspondent. Previously, he hosted “Up with Steve Kornacki” on Saturday and Sunday 8-10 a.m. ET and was a co-host on MSNBC’s ensemble show “The Cycle.” He has written for the New York Observer, covered Congress for Roll Call, and was the politics editor for Salon. His book, which focuses on the political history of the 1990s, is due out in 2017.
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1980 Democratic Convention - History
The Democrats Abroad Charter outlines the rules that our party follow as an organization. Changes in the charter are voted on by the voting body of the organization during annual general meetings.
American Democrats living and working abroad have contributed to the political life of the United States since its very beginning. The first famous Democrat, Thomas Jefferson, drafted the Bill of Rights while in Paris, France. Since then, many other Democrats residing in foreign countries have participated in U.S. politics. In the 1960s, Democrats living overseas began to organize themselves into a group, and Democrats Abroad was born.
Creation of Democrats Abroad
During the 1960 Presidential campaign between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, Democrats in Paris and London began discussing ways they could help the Democratic Party. Four years later, they were ready.
Democrats Abroad first organized simultaneously in Paris and London in 1964, when Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater. Democrats in each of those cities formed committees and elected officers. Under the leadership of Toby Hyde (London) and Al Davidson (Paris), Democrats held parades and raised funds. The nascent committees also solicited votes, but few were cast from abroad because in 1964 U.S. citizens living overseas did not have a federal right to an absentee ballot.
The activities of Democrats Abroad in 1964 were the first U.S.-style political campaigns ever mounted in foreign countries they aroused considerable local interest and generated wide publicity in France and England.
Democrats Abroad also attracted interest in the United States. John Bailey, the Chairman of the Democratic Party, on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, recognized the Paris and London committees, and the White House appointed James Rowe, a well-known political figure in Washington, as the liaison with President Johnson.
After the 1964 victory, Democrats Abroad continued to grow. In 1968, they campaigned for the Humphrey-Muskie ticket against Nixon and Agnew. Between the two elections, the leaders of Democrats Abroad started another campaign, one that would last twenty years and have a significant impact on all U.S. citizens living overseas: the campaign for full voting rights for U.S. citizens overseas.
The Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act of 1975 & The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 (UOCAVA)
In the 1960s, Democrats Abroad were able to raise funds and generate publicity. Getting out the vote was another matter, since U.S. citizens overseas did not have the right to an absentee ballot. The issue was complicated by the state-based nature of voting regulations, even for voting in federal elections. Providing a federal right to vote required modifying all state voting systems.
The first demands for the right to vote by absentee ballot had been made more than 100 years earlier, in the 1860s, when Union soldiers fighting in the Civil War who wanted to vote had to return to their States for the election. In World War II, the issue of absentee ballots was raised again.
A century later, U.S. voters in the United States could vote by absentee ballot if they were unable to get to the polls on election day. It was not so easy for U.S. voters living overseas. To remedy the injustice, leaders of Democrats Abroad formed the Committee for Absentee Democrats Abroad Voting, a bi-partisan group with the Republicans, and began a ten-year struggle to expand the franchise to overseas U.S. citizens.
Hubert Humphrey and Bob Strauss were early supporters. In the Congress, Senator Claiborne Pell and Representative Thompson were formidable leaders in the campaign to end the disenfranchisement of U.S. citizens living and working all over the world.
During the final days of the 94th Congress, House Majority Leader Tip O'Neill engineered the passage of "The Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act of 1975" through a crowded calendar. President Ford signed the Act into law in January 1976. Many Americans, however, refrained from voting while overseas because they feared tax consequences. In 1977-78, Dean Ferrier and Peter Alegi led the efforts to resolve this problem. In November 1978 Congress modified the Overseas Citizens Voting Rights Act to make clear that exercising a vote in a federal election would not by itself cause any state, local or federal tax consequences. With this solid base, Democrats Abroad then helped convince Congress to pass the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) of 1986, which laid the legal basis for a vast expansion of access to voting by Americans residing abroad. Each year more local barriers are removed as the federal legislation is enforced at the state and local level. This breakthrough legislation has swept away almost all important legal obstacles to absentee voting by Americans abroad.
In 2001, following major election irregularities in Florida, Democrats Abroad began a campaign to amend the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to remove further obstacles to overseas voting. Chair Smallhoover and Executive Director Fina hired a Republican lobbyist to help gain access to members of the then-Republican majority. Many, but not all, of our proposals were embodied in the Help America Vote Act of 2002. These included permanent registration for two full federal election cycles (rather than one previously) and the collection of statistics on overseas absentee voting never before available.
Democrats Abroad also began to play a major role in the inclusion of overseas Americans in the decennial census. Chair Smallhoover and Executive Director Fina, with the support of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, won the agreement of the Bureau of the Census to begin a series of trial counts after the completion of the 2000 Census to determine whether the inclusion of overseas Americans would be feasible for the 2010 Decennial Census. This trial period was begun in 2004.
The Democratic Party was far ahead of its Republican rivals in understanding and recognizing the potential political power of political rights of U.S. citizens overseas. Chairpersons of the Democratic Party since 1964 have granted increasing recognition to Democrats Abroad. John Bailey, Larry O'Brien, Bob Strauss, Chuck Manatt, Don Fowler, Ron Brown, David Wilhelm, Steven Grossman, Joe Andrew, Howard Dean, Tim Kaine and Debbie Wasserman-Schulz have all shown support for Democrats Abroad.
As a result of the view taken by the Democratic Party and its successive chairpersons, Democrats Abroad has made steady progress achieving official status within the organizational framework of the Democratic Party. Each year brought new advances:
1972: Chairman O'Brien grants nine non-voting delegates to Democrats Abroad for the National Convention in Miami. Nine Democrats Abroad from four countries attend.
1973: Chairman Strauss gives Democrats Abroad representation on the Democratic Charter Commission, a group of 160 leading Democrats from all States in the Union.
1976: Eight Country Committees form the Democratic Party Committee Abroad (the DPCA) and the DPCA's by-laws are filed with the DNC in Washington, D.C.
1976: The Party Call to the 1976 National Convention gives Democrats Abroad voting delegates, enabling us to participate directly for the first time in the selection of the Party's presidential nominee.
1976: Committees in Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland and the United Kingdom hold an election for delegates to the National Convention New York City. A delegation of nine Democrats Abroad attends. International Chair Toby Hyde casts the final votes in the roll call to nominate Jimmy Carter.
1976: Democrats Abroad begins its campaign with members of the Democratic National Committee (the DNC) for an amendment to the Charter of the Democratic Party in order to give Democrats Abroad membership on the DNC.
1977: Bob Strauss, the Chairman of the Democratic Party, grants time to the DPCA Chair, Toby Hyde, to persuade the full DNC to grant DNC membership to Democrats Abroad. The DNC amends the Charter of the Democratic Party and gives the DPCA four members on the DNC, having one aggregate vote.
1977: FEC Advisory Opinion (AO 1976-112) finds that Democrats Abroad is a party committee and that transfers of funds between party committees are not subject to contribution limits. But, the FEC also found that Democrats Abroad cannot be granted the status of a state party committee but must be a subordinate of the national party committee. (See also 13 July 1990 opinion of Patton, Boggs.)
1978: Democrats Abroad is given six voting delegates to the National Party Conference, and the DPCA holds its third international election to choose delegates.
In the 1980s, Democrats Abroad continued the progress of the 1970s and expanded the activities of Democrats Abroad within the organization of the Democratic Party, particularly in the Association of State Democratic Chairs:
1980: More than 1900 Democrats participate in the Democrats Abroad Worldwide Postal Primary and elect 4 delegates and alternates to the National Convention in New York City. The delegation's Tshirts and political songs are a big hit and generate publicity.
1981: Washington Liaison position created by DPCA Chair Andy Sundberg Martha Hartman was first appointee.
1982: A Democrats Abroad delegation of 12 (consisting of the DPCA Chair and Vice-Chair, the DNC members-at-large, and eight voting delegates and alternates) attend the Party Conference in Philadelphia.
1982: DPCA sponsors the first overseas political seminar in Brussels for Democrats Abroad, covering fundraising and public relations.
1983: Democrats Abroad is granted one voting representative on each of the four regional caucuses of the DNC.
1984: More than 2500 Democrats participate in the Democrats Abroad Worldwide Postal Primary, a 20% increase. The primary receives broad press coverage because its unique timing provides results ahead of the primaries occurring on the same day in the United States.
1984: A Democrats Abroad delegation of 20 attends the National Convention in San Francisco. DPCA Chair Andrew Sundberg casts the delegation's five votes in the roll call on behalf of the "more than 2,000,000 U.S. citizens living and working outside the United States."
1985: Democrats Abroad absorbs the Latin American Democratic Party (LADP), thus becoming the only entity at the DNC representing Americans residing outside the U.S. and its territories.
1985: Eugene Theroux appointed Exec Director and Thomas Fina Deputy Exec Director by DPCA Chair Dean Ferrier.
1986: Membership on the DNC and the number of delegates to the Democratic National Convention allocated to Democrats Abroad are doubled as a result of the merger with LADP.
1985: Thomas Fina appointed volunteer Executive Director.
1986: Monthly “Letter from Washington” begun by Executive Director Fina.
1986: First direct mail fund raising campaign run by the Executive Director, with DNC.
1986: DPCA Chair Dean Ferrier testifies before the House Subcommittee on Elections on behalf of amending the Voting Rights Bill to provide for the Write-in Ballot.
1987: The Democrats Abroad by-laws are amended to provide for increasing the numbers of electors eligible for electing members to the Democratic National Committee. Democrats Abroad Handbook 35 May 2012 1987: DPCA registers with the Federal Elections Commission.
1988: After an energetic effort, the Democrats Abroad primary is recognized as a state primary. As a result, all U.S. consular posts are ordered to distribute primary ballots to those Democrats residing overseas who wish to participate in the overseas primary.
1988: First international meeting held outside Europe. 55 overseas Democrats from 12 countries attend a DPCA meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, before the Democratic National Convention.
1988: Barbara Mellman and Robert Bell cofound Democrats Abroad Canada.
1989: The number of country committees reaches 20.
1990: Democrats Abroad discusses plans for the method of selecting delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Chair Sam Garst, a native Iowan, creates a caucus system used in several subsequent elections. 1990: Patton, Boggs & Blow memorandum of 13 July, 1990, advises DPCA and DNC of the legal status of Democrats and Republicans Abroad and explained that both must register with the FEC. Basis for our later forcing Republicans Abroad to register.
1991: Democrats Abroad adopts caucus system to elect Convention delegates.
1992: Democrats Abroad launches first international coordinated campaign. First ad campaign in major international newspapers supporting Democratic candidates cost $26,000.
1992: Democrats Abroad successfully carries out a caucus system for the selection of our presidential preference and our delegates to the New York Convention. Members gather in local, regional, and global caucuses to cast their votes in an outstanding example of global democracy.
1993: Representatives from fifteen country committees attend President Clinton's inauguration.
1993: November: Chairman Peter Alegi launches campaign to include overseas Americans in President Clinton’s universal health care system.
1993: On advice of the Executive Director, the DPCA hires former Republican Chief of Staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to lobby for inclusion of overseas Americans. Country committees around the world contribute to funding.
1993: Democrats Abroad begins quarterly electronic publication in Paris of theOverseas Democrat under the editorship of Lois Grjebine and with technical support from Tom Fina. This is the first DPCA newsletter designed to provide country committees with ready-made text for local mailings.
1993: By unanimous vote, Democrats Abroad revises its bylaws in accordance with the changed political and administrative needs of a truly global organization. An Executive Committee is created to streamline management. DNC membership positions reserved for election by each of major world regions: Europe and Middle East, Asia, the Americas.
1994: Clinton Health Care legislation defeated in October, but our efforts had gotten overseas Americans included in drafts before the debacle.
1994: Democrats Abroad testifies on reform of citizenship legislation, suggesting "one-stop shopping," i.e., allowing applications to be filed abroad. The House sub-committee immediately accepts this idea and incorporates it into the bill, which becomes effective March 1, 1995.
1995: Executive Director arranges first time visit by delegation of Democrats Abroad to Oval Office led by Chair Peter Alegi to meet individually with President Clinton.
1995: Alice Lauthers succeeds deceased husband to be volunteer Assistant Treasurer in US.
1995: Incoming Chair Sally McNulty arranges successful European tour of Democrats Abroad by immediate past DNC Chair, David Wilhelm, who visits London, Paris, and Heidelberg.
1996: First non-European officer elected to DPCA— Carolyn Hansen from Taiwan.
1996: First non-European DNC member elected— Maureen Keating Tsuchiya from Japan.
1996: Executive Director negotiates procedure with Clinton White House to include Democrats Abroad in Presidential visits abroad. Democrats Abroad Handbook 36 May 2012
1996: Creation of first Democrats Abroad website by Executive Director (www.democratsabroad.org ) in Washington overseen by Vice Chair Joe Smallhoover with webmaster in US the site includes links to country committee websites. This made Democrats Abroad the first State Party to have a website.
1996: In order to make distribution of Overseas Democrat more rapid and less costly, operation shifted to Ruth McCreery in Yokohama who prepares page layouts that are transmitted as pdf files to web master who up-loads them to Democrats Abroad website for instant downloading and printing by country committees.
1996: DPCA Secretary takes over keeping of records of DPCA and Country Committee officer directory.
1996: DPCA convention in Toronto adopts resolution asking for inclusion of overseas Americans in census.
1996: E-mail begins to supplant fax as predominant communications medium with significant reduction in communications cost despite increased volume of communication.
1997: Sally McNulty leads Democrats Abroad in successful effort to maintain Section 911 of the tax code, the $70,000 exclusion of earned income from U.S. federal income tax.
1997: Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Richard C. Holbrooke attends gala Democrats Abroad fundraiser in Paris. 1998: US funds transferred from Citibank, NY, to Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust, Alexandria, VA for better and more economical service as volume of income increased.
1999: June: Chairman Smallhoover testified before House Committee on Census in support of inclusion of overseas Americans in 2010 Decennial Census.
2000: In January, Andrew Goldberg is appointed Deputy Executive Director. First paid DPCA employee.
2000: DPCA spends $115,000 for 2000 campaign advertising in Israel, Mexico, Canada,Stars & Stripes, USA Today and the International Herald Tribune.
2000: DPCA spends $115,000 for 2000 campaign advertising in Israel, Mexico, Canada, Stars & Stripes, USA Today and the International Herald Tribune.
2000: Executive Director creates Emergency Committee to Reform Overseas Voting (ECROV) to provide proposals to reform Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Voting Act (UOCAVA) in light of 2000 election irregularities.
2001: DPCA hires lobbyist to help win changes in overseas absentee voting legislation.
2001: Executive Director testifies before House Committee on Census in support of inclusion of overseas Americans in decennial census of 2010. 2001: Help America Vote Act (HAVA) becomes law in October it embodies important proposals made by ECROV. 2001: Andrew Goldberg becomes Executive Director upon the retirement of Thomas Fina, who becomes Executive Director Emeritus.
2004: At the National Convention, Democrats Abroad is moved forward in the roll call to its proper alphabetical order.
2005: Michael Ceurvorst elected first Democrats Abroad International Chair from the Asia-Pacific Region
2008: The voting weight of Democrats Abroad is increased at the National Convention.
2008: Regional caucuses held to elect DNC regional representatives and delegates to the 2008 DNC Convention in Colorado. Global meeting held in Vancouver to elect further delegates and DNC members.
2008: Autumn meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, results in the creation of a formalized Resolution process and Resolutions Committee.
2009: The MOVE Act is signed into law by President Obama, written specifically to address problems encountered by overseas voters. Democrats Abroad quickly adopts new voter registration procedures and begins monitoring states’ compliance with the law.
2010: International meeting in Florence, Italy. The DPCA Bylaws Committee presents the first draft of improvements to move towards proportional representation worldwide.
2010: Tim Kaine, DNC Chair, visits Paris.
2011: Tim Kaine, DNC Chair, visits London.
2011: International meeting in Seoul, Korea. Bylaws passed unanimously. The Czech Republic joins Democrats Abroad as an official country committee. Autumn meeting in Washington DC includes Doorknocks, which result in the formation of the FBAR/FATCA Taskforce. Democrats Abroad Handbook 37 May 2012
2012: First Global Primary held in May 2012. Number of delegates from Democrats Abroad to the DNC Convention increases. The number of Country Committees reaches 51. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz distributes a video thanking Democrats Abroad members.
2014: 50th Anniversary of Democrats Abroad celebrated in Washington DC.
2016: Second Global Primary held in March 2016. Ecuador joins Democrats Abroad as an official country committee.
2017: China joins Democrats Abroad as an official country committee. Global Black Caucus and Global Hispanic Caucus founded.
2018: Tom Perez, DNC Chair, visits Geneva and London. Nicaragua, Haiti and Romania join DA as official country committees. Global Progressive Caucus founded.
2019: Finland joins DA as an official country committee. Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus founded.
2020: Global AAPI Caucus founded.
The following have served as Chair of the DPCA since it was first granted membership in the DNC in 1977:
4 Memorable Fiascos from Past Democratic Conventions
Will the socially distanced convention of 2020 rob America of a chance to cringe in unison?
Tim Dickinson's Most Recent Stories
Vice President Al Gore kisses his wife Tipper Gore after accepting the democratic nomination for President of the United States on the the fourth and final night of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, CA, August 17, 2000.
Robert Nickelsberg/Liaison/Getty Images
The socially distanced Democratic National Convention is sure to give us some high-tech bloopers. <<I’m sorry Governor Cuomo, you’re going to need to take yourself off mute.>> But without live delegates, in a physical stadium, with actual balloons and streamers, and politicians trying to project the best (if not most authentic) versions of themselves, Democrats will be missing something, namely a chance to broadcast cringeworthy flubs, mishaps, and miscalculations to millions across the country.
Here four moments from past DNC conventions that went sideways, and live on in infamy (or at least hilarity):
When Democrats Booed Carter
Nothing like bringing out the boo birds at your own convention. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter was going up against Ronald Reagan who promised a confrontation with the Soviet Union. Carter, eager to project his own strength on a national stage, began a simple recitation of the actions he’d taken after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. But number two on his list &mdash calling for draft registration &mdash did not hit right with Democratic delegates, in an America still reeling from its bloody and senseless misadventure in Vietnam. The leader of the Democratic party got an earful from those who ought to have been his heartiest backers:
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CONVENTION THROWBACK:#OTD August 14, 1980 — Pres. Jimmy Carter is booed during his nomination acceptance speech at Democratic Convention when he says, "I called for draft registration"
&mdash Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) August 14, 2020
The Clinton Macarena
Long before online memes and TikTok teens performing the Renegade, there was the Macarena, the Latin dance sensation that went viral the old fashioned way &mdash awkwardly, at weddings, and birthday parties, and family reunions. To the pain of modern eyeballs, the Macarena infected the 1996 convention in Chicago, where then first-lady Hillary Clinton clapped off the beat, as convention delegates swung their hips and flailed their arms, giving alegría to the cuerpo of absolutely nadie.
The Gore Kiss
Running in 2000, Al Gore had relatability problems. The Tennessee technocrat had a reputation for being a stiff, wooden politician with little of George W. Bush’s common touch. At the convention in Los Angeles, Gore’s advisers had plainly advised him to go out and show a little passion, a little simmer with wife Tipper, who was then known as America’s scold, a crusader against the coarseness of popular music. But as an awkward technocrat, Gore tended to over-correct when given this kind of stage direction. Instead of a spontaneous-seeming display of marital bliss, what ensued was “the kiss” (followed by an equally lamentable bear hug).
CONVENTION THROWBACK …#OTD August 17, 2000 …
Al Gore and Tipper Gore, on stage, on national TV, with soaring music. pic.twitter.com/OdyuZYQfHQ
&mdash Howard Mortman (@HowardMortman) August 17, 2020
The Balloon Drop that Wasn’t
Conventions are all about the pomp and circumstance, and the culmination of the week-long party is the balloon-and-confetti drop to mark the official nomination of the party’s candidate for president. But at the 2004 convention at the Boston Garden, the most of the balloons somehow got stuck up in the rafters. It’s not that balloons didn’t drop. They just didn’t create the spectacle planners were hoping for. This is the kind of small anticlimax that most viewers at home would never notice. But CNN somehow had the fortune to be plugged into the profane backstage feed of the convention director progressively losing his shit as the red-white-and-blue balloons he so anticipated showering John Kerry and John Edwards failed to fall from the ceiling, finally screaming, “WTF are you guys doing up there.”
So what should we expect this year?
History would suggest that whoever goes into the convention with 1,991 delegates is pretty much assured the nomination.
True, delegates are not robots, as Mr. Kennedy tried to argue in 1980, and party rules allow them to switch allegiances. The rules say delegates “shall in all good conscience reflect the sentiments of those who elected them.” This gives wiggle room to a delegate who may be worried that Mr. Sanders’s objectives are too far out of the mainstream to make him electable in the fall.
“Sanders is a very polarizing candidate, and as we learn more about him we’ll have to see if people develop buyer’s remorse,” Ms. Kamarck said.
It was the same dilemma Republicans faced in 2016 when Donald J. Trump became the nominee.
But like Republicans, Democrats are unlikely to overrule voters and create a situation where candidates and party operatives begin wheeling and dealing, Professor Williams said.
“Brokered conventions are a bad thing for the health of the party and democracy,” he said. “Now it’s not the voters making a choice, but the candidates or party insiders making the choice.”