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The Transformation Needed In The Democratic Party Is Starting Here In Montgomery County

The Democratic Party needs transformation — one from a political boss structure to a representative democracy structure, from rule by clique to rule by representative body, from a party of the few, to the party of the people.

Of the 40,000 Democrats in Montgomery County, only a handful have a voice in the local party organization. The MCDP has operated with a “political boss” structure stretching back to its beginnings. This structure is consistent throughout the party. For example, David Pepper, the ODP Chairperson, was chosen to be the leader of Ohio’s 1.4 million Democrats by a committee of only 148 members. Only 66 of these individuals were elected during a Democratic Primary, the other 82 are party insiders.

David Esrati writes: “The Ohio Democratic Party needs to have a housecleaning — as does the Montgomery County Democratic Party who have let our county go from Blue to Red over the last 10 years thanks to their protection of the ‘Friends and Family’ plan.”

Rather than “housecleaning,” I’d say, a better term is “house restructuring.” We need a house restructuring. The foundation for such restructuring was established in the revised MCDP Constitution approved at the June MCDP Reorganization Meeting. (The MCDP website is not up-to-date. It shows only the expired 2014 document, not the approved 2018 Constitution.) The elected delegates approved a new preamble and new statement of purpose (see below) that state three goals:

  1. Empower representative democracy within our party.
  2. Empower representative democracy throughout the county.
  3. Connect Montgomery County Democrats within an extended MCDP community where every member has a voice

To accomplish these goals will require a restructuring of the MCDP. Coming up with a plan to advance these goals should be the focus of discussion and debate in the MCDP Central Committee. The big news is that largely because of the efforts of Tim and Alison Benford, the membership of the Central Committee has almost doubled in size — roughly from 130 to 250 (I don’t have the latest number) — a great influx of new energy and new ideas. There is reason to believe that the transformation needed in the Democratic Party is starting here in Montgomery County.

Proposed Changes to the MCDP Constitution

At the June, 2018 MCDP Reorganization Meeting, the first four of these proposed changes to the MCDP Constitution were approved with no debate. All of the proposed changes concerning endorsement policy (5-9) were debated and defeated.

  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 made available to all members of the MCDP organization.
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Democrats Should Fight A Contest We Can Win — Not One We Are Doomed To Lose

As Democrats, we should acknowledge that we can’t out-polarize the Republicans. We can’t be more divisive than they are. The battle of partisanship is not a battle we seem to be able to win. We should fight a battle we can win. We need to capitalize on our big advantage.  Our big advantage is the system itself — if it is a system that works as it should. If the system was fair — if our system of representative democracy worked to produce a government for the people — Democratic candidates would be elected in droves, Democratic policies would be enacted.

To be the party of the people, the Democratic Party must change. We now are the party of a Democratic oligarchy.  Of 1.4 Million Ohio Democrats, for example, David Pepper was chosen to be the ODP Chairperson by a committee of only 148 — only 66 elected during a Democratic Primary, the other 82 party insiders. Of the 40,000 Democrats in Montgomery County, only a handful have a voice in the local party organization. The MCDP has operated with a “political boss” structure stretching back to its beginnings.

Hopefully things are changing for the MCDP. This past June at the MCDP Reorganization Meeting several changes to the MCDP Constitution were approved that, if implemented, would mean a big change in the organization. The new MCDP Preamble says: “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.”

Strengthening representative democracy sounds great — it is easy to talk the talk. The challenge for Democrats in Montgomery County is to transform the MCDP so that it does the following:

  1. Empowers representative democracy within our party and
  2. Empowers representative democracy throughout the county.

The MCDP Central Committee historically has simply been a rubber stamp. But, constitutionally, the Central Committee is empowered to act as a deliberative body, governed by Robert’s Rules. The Central Committee members simply need to step up to the challenge. My hope is that the influx of new members — from the efforts of Tim and Alison Benford — will be fully engaged in the Committee.

The Reorganization Meeting also approved this statement of purpose for the MCDP:

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.

Imagine the strength of the party if we could engage even 5% of Montgomery County Democrats — 2000 individuals — in a connected and caring community where everyone has a voice.

The Preamble to the MCDP Constitution calls not only for empowering representative democracy within the MCDP, it also calls for empowering representative democracy “throughout the county.”  Again, the Central Committee should agree to a plan.

As Democrats we must shift our understanding of the contest we are in. We are distracted when we focus on the Democratic Party winning. We need to look deeper and see that the central contest of politics today is the contest to make our system of representative democracy work as it should. The Republicans seem to realize that if the system worked as it should, the public policies they advocate would not have a chance. It’s to their advantage to aggravate polarization, to advance misinformation and to repress voting. It’s to the advantage of Democrats to do the opposite.

We need to focus of the contest we can win. Democrats will gain respect and support for our brand when we do the hard work needed — in our organization and in politics in general — to truly act as the party of the people.

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In Montgomery County, Democrats Lose The Contest To Get Out The Vote

Lots of competition to Get Out The Vote and in this election every precinct in Montgomery County showed an increase in voter turn-out compared to 2014, the last election for governor. The average increase in voter turn-out in the county, compared to 2014, was 13.6%. This increase, however, was not shared equally between Republican and Democratic precincts. Republican precincts — that already, historically, have a bigger turn-out than Democratic precincts — got a lion’s share of the increase.

For each precinct, I calculated the difference between the 2018 turn-out and the 2014 turn-out. The 180 precincts with the biggest improvements in turn-out voted 47.18% for Richard Cordray. The 180 precincts that had the lowest improvement in turn-out voted 54.7% for Cordray.  The precincts with the most improved turn-out tended Republican, the precincts with the poorest improvement of turn-out tended Democratic.

  • There were 133 precincts, out of 360, that voted for Richard Cordray, with a combined vote of 74.1% for Cordray. Those Cordray precincts showed a turn-out of 46.4% (a 12.6% increase over 2014)
  • There were 227 precincts that voted for Mike DeWine with a combined vote of 62.5% for DeWine. These Dewine precincts had turn-out of 57.7% (a 14.2% increase over 2014)

Comparing the top 18 Republican precincts to the top 40 Republican precincts, this chart shows that the more partisan that Republican precincts become, the more that turn-out increases. The opposite is true for the Democrats. The top 18 Democratic precincts, have a decrease in turn-out compared to the top 40 Democratic precincts.

  • The top 40 Democratic precincts voted 92.8% for Cordray — with a turn-out of 44.1% (a 13.2% increase compared to 2014))
  • The top 40 Republican precincts voted 74.3% for Dewine — with a turn-out of 60.7% (a 14.5% increase compared to 2014)

 

  • The top 18 Democratic precincts voted 92.9% for Cordray, but had a turn-out of only 35.6% (an 11.1% increase from 2014)
  • The top 18 Republican precincts voted 78.4 for DeWine and had a turn-out of 60.5% (a 12.4% increase from 2014)
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In Montgomery County 21.3% Of Registered Voters NEVER Vote; 43% of Registered Youth NEVER VOTE

Amazing the number of citizens who never vote. Only 70% of eligible voters are registered to vote. But surprisingly, many citizens who are registered to vote NEVER do so. In Montgomery County, of those who are registered, 21.3% NEVER turn out to vote — NEVER — not in non-presidential years and not in presidential years, either.

In Montgomery County 43% of the youth ages 18-30 who are registered to vote, NEVER vote.

The percentage of registered citizens not voting, particular the high percentage of registered youth in both Republican and Democratic precincts who never vote, is shocking.

Meanwhile the percentage of citizens ages 65 and older who are registered to vote, but who NEVER vote, is only 6.3%

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The MCDP Should Target These Forty Precincts For An Intense GOTV Effort

To generate the list of Top forty precincts for a proposed Montgomery County Democratic Get Out The Vote effort, I manipulated a matrix that contains a lot of voting data for each of Montgomery County’s 360 precincts. I loaded this data by hand from the Board of Elections webpage some time ago.

First, I sorted the 360 precincts to find all of those precincts that voted for Hillary Clinton by a rate of 65% or more. This produced a list of 77 precincts. On this list of 77 strong Democratic precincts, the highest percentage that a Montgomery Count precincts voted for Hillary is an amazing 98.4% voting, and the lowest is 67.5%. The average for the group is 90.6%

Next, of these 77 strongly Democratic precincts, I found the 40 that had the lowest voting rates in 2014 — the election that parallel’s this year’s election. The turn-out for these 40 precincts in 2014 was a measly 25.2%. Think of it, only one-fourth of registered voters in these heavily Democratic precincts exercised their right to vote. This was even worse, much worse, than the anemic turn-out for the whole county which was 39.9%. (The lowest percentage of turn-out in this list is a shocking 16.7% !)

These 40 precincts with their 36,000 registered voters have the potential of producing a lot of Democratic votes. But, the problem is, if these precincts vote as the same rate as they did in 2014, about three-fourths of the registered voters — 27,000 — will not vote. If all of these 27,000 missing voters actually voted, however, about 10% or 2700 would go Republican and about 90%, or 24,300, would go Democratic — a net gain for Democrats of a whopping 24,300 votes !

Using data not shown in this graph, it looks like about 67% of registered Democrats in these 40 precincts voted in 2014 — a big improvement overall turn-out rate of 25.2%, but this means that in 2014, about one-third of registered Democrats stayed home !  This failure of Dems to vote meant that in just these 40 precincts, the Dems lost 2468 votes.

The challenge is to create a strong GOTV plan.

This shows the last few lines of the graph with the summation. :

The headings to the columns are: Precinct Name, Ohio House District, Precinct Leader, Roll in 2012, Vote in 2012, % in 2012, Roll in 2016, Vote in 2016, % in 2016, Dems registered in precinct in 2016, % of vote for Hillary 2016, Roll in 2014, Vote in 2014, % vote in 2014, % of voters who are Dems, % vote for Obama in 2012

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