State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, will be in Philadelphia this week to attend the Democratic National Convention as a member of the convention’s Rules Committee.
“I was quite honored to be asked by the Clinton campaign to serve on the rules committee,” he said. “And unfortunately a lot of seats go to those in the metro areas. So I thought it was important and it was significant that as a … semi-rural legislator, I was appointed to this job.”
The Rules Committee is a significant part of the convention process because it establishes the rules that govern everything that happens during the event.
“All of the rules that govern the smooth movement of the convention will be presented by the Rules Committee,” Williams said. “We say who’s eligible to vote, we talk about who can be heard from the floor, how we will vote and when we will vote.”
By serving on the Rules Committee, Williams said, he will have “all the rights and privileges of a delegate.”
The 2016 Democratic National Convention will be Williams’ sixth — his first was in 1972 — but also possibly his last.
Williams said he was the first African-American from Liberty County to be a delegate at the convention since Reconstruction and the first to be a member of the Electoral College from Liberty County in 1977.
“I find it extremely fascinating. We had a very contentious election in 1972. Rules became vitally important,” he said.
Williams said that the party’s platform and the rules for the convention this year will be in part influenced by the Democratic presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
But Williams believes this convention will show a unified party.
Voting for this year’s nominee may be similar to the convention in 2008, according to Williams. That year, Hillary Clinton, after an unsuccessful bid for president, asked for a unanimous vote for Barack Obama.
“And so I think we’ll see the spirit of unity this year, and I would not be surprised if Vermont is not given the honor of asking for a unanimous vote,” he said, in order to honor Sanders and again show unity.
The convention will also address certain issues affecting the nation, some that have been prevalent in the headlines for the last few weeks, Williams said, such as the shootings of African-Americans and police officers in Minnesota, Louisiana and Dallas.
“I’m looking forward to this because I think it is so crucial at such a crucial time in our nation,” he said.
“We’re at quite a junction (in) America, that we’ve got to get it right,” Williams added.
After the convention, Williams believes Clinton will continue to be a centrist, although she has leaned more to the left because of Sanders.
“She has a much shorter trip to the center than Donald Trump has. He’s got a mountain to climb,” Williams said.
Williams will also be busy after the convention with travel, speeches and campaigning for Clinton.
Williams thinks Clinton will be a good president because of “her experience, her temperament. You see, you can’t just sit down at a table with a bunch of world leaders and say, ‘You’re fired,’ and walk out the door. This ain’t reality television.”
He said Trump does not have “a clue about where we are in foreign policy,” and called him an “egomaniac.”
“And this is a country that requires someone that even those that are against you, you’ve got to learn to love them. You’ve got to deal with them,” Williams said. “You don’t have to necessarily agree with them, but this country was built on coming back together.”
For those watching the convention for the first time, Williams says to enjoy it.
“Whether you’re a Republican or whether you’re a Democrat, concentrate on what’s being said, what’s being done,” he said. “Enjoy the beauty of democracy. Bathe in how a democracy operates. And love it no matter what your political persuasion.
“Because no matter who wins, we’re still going to be the United States of America,” he added. “And believe me, we don’t have to make America great again. America is great now.”