Binding the Iowa Delegation

Iowa at the 2008 National Convention

Iowa at the 2008 National Convention

[Note: the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. For current information on delegate binding please refer to The Caucus and Delegates to the National Convention]

I am not going to re-visit the argument about how we got here. I am not going to discuss whether it is good or bad. But as chairman of the RPI’s Organization Committee, I want to take this opportunity to tell you what has happened at the national level and describe how the changes will affect the process here in Iowa.

After the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, the RNC Rules committee adopted a new rule on binding and allocating delegates. Under the new rule all delegates to the national convention will be bound. The rule also carved out four states (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada), allowing them to hold caucuses or primaries before March 1st preserving Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status. Iowa’s delegation at the RNC was split on the vote.  Iowa’s National Committeeman and RPI Chairman voted in favor of the rule, Iowa’s National Committeewoman voted against the rule.

The relevant part of RULE NO. 16 reads:

Any statewide presidential preference vote that permits a choice among candidates for the Republican nomination for President of the United States in a primary, caucuses, or a state convention must be used to allocate and bind the state’s delegation to the national convention in either a proportional or winner-take-all manner, …

So, for better or worse, every Iowa delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention will be bound beforehand to vote for a particular candidate. All that remains is to determine the mechanism. This Saturday at the State Central Committee meeting, we will be considering the following amendment to the RPI bylaws.

Amendment to add a new Article VII to the Bylaws and renumber accordingly.

Article VII – Binding of National Convention Delegates

The Iowa delegation to the Republican National Convention shall be bound on the first ballot to cast a vote that reflects the outcome of the Iowa Caucuses. The Chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, or his or her designee, shall cast the vote of the delegation on the first ballot, for those candidates who have been officially placed in nomination, in proportion to the statewide Iowa Precinct Caucus vote. The proportional delegate allocation shall be rounded to the nearest whole delegate. In the event that a delegate is unallocated due to mathematical rounding, the unallocated delegate vote shall be cast in favor of the candidate closest to the rounding threshold.

Under this proposed amendment, the RPI chairman will announce the vote of the Iowa delegation in the first round based solely on the math based on the outcome of caucus night. The chairman will not poll the delegation. All of Iowa’s votes will go to candidates who have officially been placed in nomination, so if a candidate drops out before the convention, the math is re-figured and Iowa’s votes are divided up among the remaining candidates. If there is a second (or further) round of voting, all delegates may vote for the candidate of their choice.

I would love to hear your input on this.


Living a Lie — I self-identify as White!

White David

The author as White

This week, I have realized that I have been living a lie — I self-identify as white. I came to this realization after reading about Rachel Dolezal. Dolezal is the former head of the Spokane NAACP who was born white but has been passing herself off as black. Dolezal apparently went so far as to invent an African American father and post pictures of him in place of her biological father. Like Dolezal, I began thinking of myself as white at a young age. There is a difference however, in my opinion, Dolezal’s actions seem to fall somewhere between mental illness and fraud. But Dolezal is right on one thing — racial identity is complex and multi-layered.

The author as an Asian Man

The author as Asian

My father was from Jamaica. Racially he was 1/2 Jamaican and 1/2 Chinese. The Jamaican half was almost certainly African courtesy of the slave trade. As a university professor, students would ask him about his racial background and he would tell them to guess. I suspect that it was his Chinese last name that threw them off because students never could seem to figure it out. To me, my father always looked black. He was a handsome man with dark skin and thick jet black hair. I always thought he looked a little like Harry Belafonte (also Jamaican). I couldn’t really see much hint of Chinese/Asian features. Today when I tell people that my father was Jamaican/Chinese they are surprised. Since Jamaica was a British Colony there were many immigrant from the British colonies, and later the commonwealth, in Jamaica.

The author as an Pacific-Islander

The author as Pacific-Islander

My mother is from Guam a small island in the Pacific. Guam is a US territory and part of Micronesia. The native people of Guam are called Chamorro though today many consider Chamorro to be the exonymic spelling and have adopted the endonymic Chammoru. [[Actually the word Chamorro comes from Spanish so Chammoru is the endonymic spelling of anexonymic name ;-)]] My mother has relatively light skin and black hair though many of her relatives have considerably darker skin. Guam was colonized and ruled by Spain until the Spanish American War so most islanders have Spanish surnames. (BTW having a Spanish surname is in many cases sufficient to call oneself hispanic). Since my mom is light skinned, it is difficult for people to visually discern her race. I suspect most people consider her Caucasian or white. Though I am guessing that on forms she classifies herself as Asian/Pacific Islander.

The author as Hispanic

The author as Hispanic

So given that my father was Jamaican-Chinese and that my mother is Chammoru — how is it that I have come to identify myself as white? It reminds me of Steve Martin’s character in The Jerk who says, “I was born a poor black child.” But in my case (or for that matter Rachel Dolezal’s) it would not be true. I was born to educated middle class parents whose racial backgrounds I have detailed above. My birth took place in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a small midwestern college town. Cedar Falls, like the rest of Iowa had a minority population of under 5%. When I was born in the early 1960’s that number was probably more like 2%. That number is not just blacks but all minorities combined. Since we were part of the university community, my parent’s circle of friends included more minorities than most. Growing up we were an active part of a small but vibrant Chinese community.

The author as Black

The author as Black

When I was growing up, I went to a laboratory school. This school was a part of the university and served as a teaching lab for the College of Education. The schools enrollment area was so white — that the university bussed in African American students from a nearby town to provide a more diverse student population. (This was long before forced bussing — the program was totally voluntary.) Therefore as a child, almost all of my friends were white. While I never drew pictures of myself with blond hair, all of the action figures I played with — GI Joe and Major Matt Mason (an astronaut) — were white. I watched white TV shows, listened to white music, played white games and grew up in a white world. It is no wonder that as a child I thought of myself as white.

The author as an Asian Man

The author as White Hispanic

In reality, I never thought of myself as being of any particular race. I did not (and still don’t) have a strong sense of racial identity. But I guess if I had thought about it at all, I would have self-identified with my peers who were almost all white. All of this changed in my early teens. After I finished fifth grade, my father took a sabbatical from the university and took a position at the University of Guam. We moved to Guam and I went to sixth, seventh and eighth grade on the island. Living on Guam made my racial identity much more complicated. Growing up in Iowa with all of my extended family on Guam or Jamaica — I never really felt connected to my larger family. Chammoru culture is very family centered and families are large and close. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by cousins, aunts, uncles, and various other relatives on a daily basis. It was a wonderful experience and played an important role in forming who I am.

The author's Caucasian father

The author’s Caucasian father

As for my racial identity, it became more complicated. All of those aunts, uncles and cousins were Chammoru, they were brown. Except for two of my female cousins who were light skinned with red hair — I was part of a brown family in a majority brown society. But in school, my closest friends were all haoles (a lovingly derogatory term like ‘cracker’ or ‘honky’). Today I understand that this affinity was more cultural than racial. The white kids (most from the mainland US) and I shared a common culture. We had significant shared experiences and we tended to stick together. My best friends had names like Browder and Chase not Lujan and Gutierrez.

On the other hand, when my father came to the US as a young man he went to the DOT and in those days they put race on the driver’s license. Being Jamaican and Chinese so puzzled the DOT employees that they decided to list him as Caucasian. So, if my father was Caucasian — I must be white, it’s not a lie after all!!!