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Forcing a Rainbow

February 25, 2012 - Joselyn King
It's commendable the Belmont County Democratic Party this spring is hosting the 6th Congressional District's delegate selection event for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. The selections are to take place April 12 at Martins Ferry High School.

The thought is that local delegates will be selected to attend the DNC convention -- set for Sept. 3-7 in Charlotte, N.C.

But I'm not so sure the local demographic fits the criteria for the delegation as set by the Ohio Democratic Party, which has a focus on making sure the delegation is representative of the state as a whole.

The party has set affirmative action goals for its convention delegation based on 2010 U.S. Census figures and exit polling data from previous elections.

In total, 113 delegates and 11 alternates will be selected at 18 pre-primary caucuses to happen across Ohio on April 12.

And the party stipulates Ohio's delegation must consist of the following - 43 African-American delegates and three alternates; seven Hispanic delegates and one alternate; four Asian Pacific American delegates; one Native American delegate; 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender delegates and one alternate; and 20 young Democrats, ages 18-35, and one alternate.

It's unclear how Belmont County and the 6th District fit into this formula.

County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Good said he expects at least one man and one woman to be selected in the 6th District, and perhaps a young Democrat.

That makes three delegates -- at most -- from East Ohio. To me, that doesn't seem representative in a state as large as Ohio.

In theory, having a delegation reflecting Ohio's diverse population might seem the right way to achieve representative democracy.

But wouldn't it be wonderful if people were simply selected on the merits they have to offer -- and I'm guessing the result would still be a cultural rainbow.

The idea is to find people who can represent their party, state and the nation as a whole.

Why should the Democratic Party "pigeonhole" and reduce their individual members to representing a specific demographic?


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