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From The Vaults

Democrats Should Challenge Republicans To A Get Out The Vote Contest

I’d like to see the Montgomery County Democratic Party challenge the Montgomery County Republican Party to a Get Out The Vote contest. I’m working on drafting a proposal for the Central Committee to consider that outlines a contest between the 75 precincts in Montgomery County with the highest percentage votes for Hillary vs the 75 precincts with the highest percentage votes for Trump.

The competition would focus on increasing voter turnout as compared to the 2014 rates.

  • The 75 Hillary precincts had a turnout in 2014 of 31.7%. Amazingly, there were 50,301 registered voters in these 75 precincts who failed to exercise their right and responsibility as a citizen to vote.
  • The 75 Trump precincts had a turnout in 2014 of 43.3%. There were 43,610 registered voters in these precincts who failed to vote.

Think of it, in these 150 precincts there were 93,911 citizens who failed to honor their duty as a citizen to vote. Wouldn’t it be great if all of those citizens voted in 2018?

Of course a effective system of representative democracy requires more than simply voting. It requires for citizens to take seriously the office that they hold — the office of citizen — and to work to be well informed and meaningfully connected with other citizens. Rather than a GOTV, what would be better is a GOTICV — Get Out The Informed Citizen Voter. I’m trying to think through a contest design that rewards participants for efforts to inform and engage citizens.

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At The MCDP Reorganization Meeting, The Central Committee Votes To Make No Change In Endorsement Policies

Last evening was the quadrennial MCDP Reorganization Meeting. My five proposed changes to the MCDP Constitution (see below) received strong support by some members, but in the end all proposed changes were all handily defeated.

The most revealing part of the evening happened when a long-time member of the Central Committee said that she was insulted that anyone would dare to take away her right to a secret ballot. She had quite a head of steam expressing her indignation. She said that she was totally opposed to requiring her to sign a ballot. In the discussion that followed, several members reminded her that the Central Committee is a representative body and the Democrats in her precinct who elected her to the Committee have a right to know how she votes.

This member is mistaken, because the Central Committee must abide by the rules stated in the Ohio Revised Code. But it is understandable, however, why she feels she had a right to a secret vote. That’s the way the MCDP operates. I made a motion to make a roll-call vote for proposed changes to the constitution. I had prepared a handy ballot that required a signature — a roll-call ballot — and my motion was to use this ballot.  (The ballot the Chairman Owens approved whited out the “Reasons.”) My motion to have a roll call vote was defeated, but a good number, I’d say a least one-third, of those voting supported the motion.  Voting to not make the Reorganization Meeting transparent meant that the constitution amendment to require transparency concerning endorsements also would surely fail.

These proposals to change the MCDP Constitution stem from the disastrous decision of the party to make an endorsement in the Rev Ward vs Rev Fairchild contest. This endorsement needlessly divided Democrats, needlessly divided the party, needless spent money.  This audacious decision on the part of the Screening Committee and the rubber stamping of this decision on part of Central Committee follows an established history of unwise and unproductive endorsements. I believe if transparency concerning endorsements was required by the MCDP Constitution, many unwise endorsements would be avoided. Secrecy empowers bad decisions. In practical terms, the Ward / Fairchild endorsement decision was a secret vote — there was no record kept of who voted for endorsement, who voted against and who didn’t vote — and, as the indignant Central Committee member pointed out, some members of the Central Committee feel pretty entitled to secrecy.

PREAMBLE: “We the Representatives of the Democrats living in Montgomery County — in order to form a strong party organization that empowers representative democracy within our party and throughout the county — do establish the Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution.”

If I could have a do-over for the evening, I would ask for a separate vote on this preamble. I wrote this preamble as a proposal for discussion — I circulated it in a letter to Central Committee members, but there was never any discussion. These words were approved as written at the short meeting of the “Constitution Committee.” The words were highlighted in the xerox of the revised Constitution that everyone at Reorganization received, indicating that it was new text, but nobody at the Reorganization Meeting suggested the preamble should be discussed. I should have pressed the point. This preamble advances a point of view that contradicts the POV of a Central Committee that would reject a motion for roll-call vote. A debate likely would have resulted in tabling the preamble or referring it to a committee, so I said nothing. That was a mistake. The preamble should have been debated.

The underlying premise of the Preamble is that when the party empowers representative democracy and when it holds itself to the high standards of transparency expected of a representative body, it is a stronger party. This premise is the crux of what the Democratic Party should be debating. I don’t think that the Democratic Party can become the strong party it must become — unless it changes its ways and commits to operating as a small-d democratic organization that is responsible to its constituents. The place for the transformation needed in the Democratic Party to begin is at the county level. The Reorganization Meeting demonstrated how difficult it is to start the process.

The outcome of quadrennial Reorganization Meetings depends on who shows up. First of all, over 60% of the precincts in Montgomery County failed to elect a member on the Committee, so if everyone elected showed up at this Meeting, the Central Committee would not come close to representing the county’s 60,000 Democrats. As a representative body, it is a failure from the get-go because of this lack of numbers. Of the 93 people at the meeting (26% of the total precincts in the county), a big part were old-timers but there were a lot of new people. I’m guessing at least one-half of the group was new.

The argument for voting “No” that prevailed was that the proposed changes to the constitution dealing with endorsements are not needed — after all, the MCDP operates according to Roberts’ Rules — and that a constitution should not needlessly constrict the options available to the organization.  I argued that history shows that the MCDP needs a constitution that will establish guardrails to prevent big endorsement mistakes. Requiring transparency on endorsement votes would provide the needed guardrails. I was glad that a number of members rose to emphasize the same or similar points. By big majorities — there is no record of how each member voted, of course — the Reorganization Meeting agreed to give the MCDP the option of continuing these past bad practices:

  • Central Committee members may be expected to ratify or reject endorsement recommendations the same evening they are made. (No time to consult with constituents.)
  • The Central Committee may continue to make endorsements for the Democratic Primary contests two months before the deadline for candidates to file with the Board of Elections. (Deliberately suppressing primary participation)
  • The Central Committee may choose to not keep a record of how members vote on endorsement motions  (making endorsement in practice a secret vote).

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Republican National Committee Letter Seeking New Donors Says Democrats Are Focused On Vicious Personal Attacks

A friend, who has never voted in a Republican Primary, is baffled why the Republican National Committee would send him a letter asking for money. I ventured a guess that maybe it’s just the fact of his financial status. I’m wondering if, maybe, this is a fishing letter that everyone in the top 5% of incomes received.

The RNC is looking for new donors and it is interesting who they are appealing to and what they are pitching.  They are looking for people who agree with Trump that Democrats are engaging in “vicious personal attacks, insults, fabrications and accusations.” They are looking for people who like to think that the Republicans are driven by the core principles of, “small government, individual freedom and strong national security.”

2018 ELECTION YEAR AFFILIATION CONFIRMATION

… We sent this to you because the Trump Administration’s historic effort to reverse the liberal tide of expanding government, high taxes, weak borders and socialized medicine has triggered one of the most aggressive attacks on our Party in memory. The Democrats campaign of vicious personal attacks, insults, fabrications and accusations is unprecedented.

And they’re now focusing 100% on the fast-approaching 2018 midterm elections. With the help of the so-called “mainstream media” and the Hollywood liberal elite, Democrats are raising huge sums to find and register record numbers of new voters for one purpose: TO STOP PRESIDENT TRUMP COLD by electing a Democrat Congressional Majority to derail everything we’ve been fighting for to Make American Great Again — from dismantling Obamacare to slashing taxes and red tape to protecting jobs to safeguarding our borders.

We CANNOT let them win. So we MUST match them voter for voter, dollar for dollar. And with the election season just months away, NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT … As a freedom-loving American who shares our core Republican principles of small government, individual freedom and strong national security, you are our Party’s foundation. So please tear off and return the attached Republican Affiliation Confirmation Card today. And include your 2018 contribution …

Ronna McDaniel

Chairwoman, Republican National Committee

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To Become A Strong Organization, The MCDP Central Committee Must Commit To Acting As A Representative Body

I recently got a scalding email from a Central Committee member who had attended the meeting that approved the Rev. Ward endorsement. He was indignant that I had written: “Nobody in that group wanted the vote concerning Ward / Fairchild to be on record and to be made public.” He wrote: “I was in that group, and your assessment of my motives is simply incorrect.  What proof do you have to back up your claim?”

I replied that the proof of such a claim starts with the fact that not one person in the group called for a roll-call vote. The Rev. Ward endorsement amounted to a secret vote, because there was no record kept. For this bonehead decision there is no accountability. There is no way to discover who voted to endorse, who voted to not endorse and who failed to vote.

But, I’ve thought it over, and I can see that the complaining Central Committee member makes a good point. He’s right: I really can’t know the motives of the people who were in the room. The group was simply following its usual pattern. There may have been members very concerned about the lack of transparency in this endorsement decision, but who didn’t realize that making a motion for a roll-call vote was even an option. Maybe there were those who wanted a roll-call, but realized that a majority of the group would never support such a motion. In the eight years I served on the Central Committee, from 2006-2014, I didn’t make such a motion for a roll-call vote in any meeting either and I can’t recall there ever being a roll-call vote.

My thinking has changed. Thank you Donald Trump. I’m gripped by the conviction that we are in desperate need of a strong Democratic Party. We need a sense of urgency that maintaining the status quo is not good enough — doing more of the same, but with greater enthusiasm, is not good enough.We need a vision of a twenty-first century Democratic Party.

We need to have a debate about what a strong twenty-first century Democratic Party would look like. I’ve come to the conclusion that only democracy can save the Democratic Party, and that only a Democratic Party committed to democracy can be saved. A commitment to democracy must begin in the party. We must walk the walk. The Central Committee must come to grips with its responsibility to act as a representative body.

Endorsements require a super majority — a two-thirds vote — in the Central Committee. Some endorsement votes would not clear this high bar — if there was opposition whipping a “No” vote. The problem is, the MCDP Central Committee doesn’t have a history of seeing itself as a legislative body. By long tradition, it sees itself as a rubber stamp to the actions of the Executive Committee and the Screening Committee. It’s my conclusion: To Become A Strong Organization, The MCDP Central Committee Must Commit To Acting As A Representative Body.

I’ve had a couple of good discussions with other Central Committee members about the proposed change to the Constitution calling for  roll-call vote for all motions concerning endorsement. I agree, in a political party our obligation is to be transparent to our constituents, not to the whole world, so I’ve revised my proposed amendment (#9 below).

See: Montgomery County Democrats Should Debate Competing Visions Of The Future of The MCDP Organization

 

Proposed Changes to the MCDP Constitution

  1. PREAMBLE: “WE THE REPRESENTATIVES of the Democrats living in Montgomery County — in order to form a strong party organization that empowers representative democracy within our party and throughout the county — do establish this Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution.A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  2. A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  3. A New PURPOSE: “In accordance with the provisions of Section 3517 of the Ohio Revised Code, this organization shall be the “Controlling Committee” of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County. The purpose of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to represent and to serve Montgomery County Democrats. The MCDP advances this purpose: by connecting Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community where every member has a voice, by advancing candidates of the people who are dedicated to public service and whose principles align with those of the Democratic Party.
  4. An expansion of MEMBERSHIP: “The MCDP welcomes all Democrats registered in Montgomery County to become a member of the MCDP organization.”
  5. Endorsement recommendations by the Screening Committee shall be announced at least three days prior to the Central Committee meeting at which the recommendations will be acted on.
  6. Central Committee members may register their vote with the MCDP Secretary at any time during the three days prior to the Central Committee meeting.
  7. During the Central Committee meeting, any endorsement recommendations made from the floor, and seconded, will be communicated to Central Committee members not attending the meeting. Voting on these recommendations will occur via communication with the MCDP Secretary and voting will be concluded after 48 hours.
  8. The endorsement of Democratic Primary candidates shall occur after the Board of Election deadline for Democratic candidates to file for the primary.
  9. Central Committee votes on all motions for endorsements shall be by roll-call or by paper ballot with the member’s signature, or by registering the vote with the MCDP Secretary. For each endorsement, a record showing each Central Committee member’s vote shall be made available to all members of the MCDP organization.
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At the MCDP Reorganization, Amending The Constitution To Nullify “One Must Be Present To Vote” Rule Will Initiate Needed Debate In The DNC

One proposed change to the MCDP Constitution nullifies the “one must be present to vote” rule. Change #6 (see below) allows a Central Committee member three days to contact the Central Committee Secretary to register his or her vote on endorsements.

An administrator at the Ohio Democratic Party has ruled that this proposed change in the MCDP Constitution is inconsistent with ODP policy and, as such, is not allowable. If the Central Committee at the Reorganization ratifies a rule that allows remote voting, then the MCDP will need to appeal to the ODP Executive Committee to overturn the administrator’s ruling. If the ODP Executive Committee rejects the appeal, then the MCDP can appeal to the Democratic National Committee.

The ODP administrator explained to me that in all representative assemblies, a member must be present in the room in order to vote. Regardless of his state of health, for example, in order for John McCain to cast a vote in the U.S. Senate, he must travel from Arizona to Washington. I replied that the “must be present to vote” rule contributes to inefficiency. Why should we model the Central Committee after a U.S. Congress that is infamous for its dysfunction?

The “must be present to vote” rule is out of date. Requiring MCDP Central Committee members to travel to downtown Dayton to the MCDP Headquarters in order to register a vote, needlessly diminishes the number of members who participate in important questions. It’s like saying one must be present in a bank building in order to do banking business.

By voting “yes” to allow remote voting, the Central Committee will initiate a discussion and review and appeal process within the Democratic Party that is long overdue. The DNC should not put prevent a county group, like the MCDP, from making changes to its procedures that will empower it to move into the twenty-first century.

 

Proposed Changes To The MCDP Constitution

  1. PREAMBLE: “WE THE REPRESENTATIVES of the Democrats living in Montgomery County — in order to form a strong party organization that empowers representative democracy within our party and throughout the county — do establish this Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution.
  2. A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  3. A New PURPOSE: “In accordance with the provisions of Section 3517 of the Ohio Revised Code, this organization shall be the “Controlling Committee” of the Democratic Party of Montgomery County. The purpose of the Montgomery County Democratic Party is to represent and to serve Montgomery County Democrats. The MCDP advances this purpose: by connecting Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community where every member has a voice, by advancing candidates of the people who are dedicated to public service and whose principles align with those of the Democratic Party.
  4. An expansion of MEMBERSHIP: “The MCDP welcomes all Democrats registered in Montgomery County to become a member of the MCDP organization.”
  5. Endorsement recommendations by the Screening Committee shall be announced at least three days prior to the Central Committee meeting at which the recommendations will be acted on.
  6. Central Committee members may register their vote with the MCDP Secretary at any time during the three days prior to the Central Committee meeting.
  7. During the Central Committee meeting, any endorsement recommendations made from the floor, and seconded, will be communicated to Central Committee members not attending the meeting. Voting on these recommendations will occur via communication with the MCDP Secretary and voting will be concluded after 48 hours.
  8. The endorsement of Democratic Primary candidates shall occur after the Board of Election deadline for Democratic candidates to file for the primary.
  9. Central Committee votes on all motions for endorsements shall be by roll-call or by paper ballot with the member’s signature, or by registering the vote with the MCDP Secretary. For each endorsement, a record showing each Central Committee member’s vote shall be posted online
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