By Dawn Gable
HAVANA TIMES — Every four years in the United States, the two main political parties convene to formally nominate their presidential candidate and ratify their party platform. The Republicans are scheduled to meet up in Tampa, Florida this weekend and the Democrats will follow suit the first week of September in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Havana Times will be on the scene in Charlotte to take in the speeches, enjoy the entertainment, and witness the votes. But more importantly, we will focus on the 6,000 Democratic delegates from around the country.
What exactly is their role? What influence do they have on the outcome of the party platform? Is this simply a theatrical ceremony to ratify a document already decided upon by an elite commission?
In early August the Democratic Platform Committee met to finalize the draft platform that was drawn up by a drafting committee in July.
For the first time ever, the platform contained language supporting gay marriage. The pro-choice abortion stance drew fire from a tiny faction of Democrats who are against a women’s right to determine her reproductive activities, but their concerns were overshadowed by the vast majority.
Similarly, earlier this week, controversy swirled around the Republican’s proposed platform, which contained language against abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the pregnant woman.
Although Republican Senator Brown of Massachusetts, has come out against this language and Romney himself has not taken this extreme stance, it is unlikely any modifications will emerge from the convention.
In comparison, last year the Cuban Communist Party ratified its first new platform in 15 years. The process began in November 2010 when the draft platform, popularly known as “the guidelines”, was made public. For the following three months, several million Cubans participated in discussions about the draft and more than 780 thousand recommendations were submitted.
In April 2011 the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party was held during which 997 delegates, working in commissions, took these recommendations into account and the 291 original guidelines were modified (16 merged with others, 181 language changed, and 36 new) resulting in a new total of 311 guidelines that were ratified by the delegates.