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From The Vaults

Imagining The Montgomery County Democratic Party as “The Party Of The People”

I’ve met and interviewed only one “great man” — W. Edwards Deming, when he was in his ninety’s. The “Deming Prize” is a yearly award that is a big deal in Japan. Deming was an early leader in understanding how organizations can be successful. He helped Japan rebuild after WWII. Deming taught that successful organizations and businesses are mission driven. He emphasized that business leaders must have a clear understanding of the mission of their company.

The goal of business is to make a profit — but making a profit is a poor mission. A successful business is customer-centered. An automobile company wants to make money, but it defines its mission as producing high quality automobiles at a competitive price. By centering its attention and resources on advancing a customer-centered mission, it achieves its goal.

For political parties, the mission has come down to winning. This is like a business being all about making money. The customers are not fooled. The cynicism and apathy of the electorate is a logical response to a political system that is all about winning. What animates our political process, with the help of hate radio and propagandized TV, are wedge issues that divide and polarize voters. Harsh partisan divisions empowered Trump.

What would the Democratic Party look like — if it saw its mission as acting as the party of the people? A party of the people would:

  • Empower all interested Democrats within the Democratic Party.
  • Prepare and advance candidates who are “of the people” who are committed to being public servants.
  • Seek to win elections by creating unity — rather than through sowing discord.
  • Help build nonpartisan civic groups that center on advancing local civics education.

Each of Ohio’s 88 counties has a Democratic Party organization — each with its own constitution and bylaws. This means that each local organization can make its own rules. Each is in control of its own structure and processes. Every four years these county organizations are required by state law to conduct elections. This year’s May 8 Democratic Primary will determine the membership of MCDP Central Committee. Those chosen in this election will conduct a Reorganization Meeting where officers will be selected and a MCDP Constitution approved.

The Democratic Party at every level is in need of big improvements. The transformation that is needed must start at the grassroots level. The MCDP should seek to lead the building of a 21st Century Democratic Party that acts as the party of the people. I’m wanting to work with other Montgomery County Democrats to find consensus on possible changes to the MCDP Constitution that could be approved at the Reorganization Meeting.

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Only 114 of Montgomery County’s 360 Precincts Have Democrats Seeking Election To The MCDP Central Committee

There are 130 Montgomery County Democrats who met the deadline to submit petitions to seek election to the Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee. The petitions are not yet certified by the Board of Elections, but, as it stands now, of the county’s 360 precincts, 100 precincts have one candidate, 12 precincts have two candidates, and 2 precincts have three candidates.

Of the 130 Democrats who turned in a petition, 35 were elected to the Central Committee in 2014 and 18 were appointed to the Central Committee after the election. So there are 53 Democrats who are current members of the Central Committee who are seeking election and there are 77 Democrats seeking election who are not current members.

Seventy-three of the 132 Democrats elected to the Central Committee in 2014, failed to meet the deadline to turn in a petition. Of the 73 precincts, only 22 precincts have a Democrat seeking election to replace the exiting member. This means that, as of now, there are 51 precincts that are losing a precinct leader and that will have no replacement.

Some Democrats who failed to make the February 7 deadline for petitions are intending on making the deadline to be a write-in candidate. That deadline is February 26 at 4:00 PM to complete and submit Form No 13 to the Board of Elections. Meeting this write-in deadline means that the name of the write-in candidate will be on the accepted list. To be elected to the Central Committee, a write-in candidate must get at least five votes (the same as the number of signatures required for the February 7 petition).

Interesting that many Democrats seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for elected office seem to have no interest in being engaged in the local party organization. The following Democratic candidates live in one of the 246 precincts with no Democratic candidate for the Central Committee:

  • Walter Hickman — State Representative for OHD-39
  • Albert Griggs Jr — State Representative for OHD-40
  • Ryan Taylor — State Representative for OHD-40
  • Zach Dickerson — State Representative for OHD-42
  • Autumn Kern — State Representative for OHD-42
  • Daryl Ward — County Commissioner
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Does Humanity Have The Intelligence Needed To Survive?

The intelligence that humanity must develop, if it is to survive, is not math intelligence, or science intelligence. It is civic intelligence.

Douglas Schuler, a professor at college in Washington State, says that “civic intelligence is a little known term for an important concept.” “Civic intelligence,” Schuler says, “is directed towards the collective good.” He defines civic intelligence as “the capacity of collectivities – from small informal groups to humanity as a whole – to equitably and effectively address important shared problems.”

It makes sense that if humanity does cannot develop the capacity to come together and solve problems —we are doomed. We are lacking that capacity right now.

A political body can be full of “intelligent” people — according to their IQ scores and academic accomplishments — yet, as a body have little or no “capacity to equitably and effectively address important shared problems.” Our US Congress is full of intelligent people, but Congress, as a group, has little “civic intelligence.”

If we are to transform our US Congress so that it is known for its civic intelligence, a place to start is at the local level, at the grassroots. Our challenge as local communities is to create grassroots structures where civic intelligence can thrive. If civic intelligence would pervade our local communities, it would soon impact who we would elect to public offices.

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What Should Be The Role Of Government In Helping Citizens Achieve The American Dream?

Kettering Republicans are getting campaign literature with this theme: “Achieving the American Dream Starts With Protecting Our Conservative Values.” The literature is paid for by “Ohio Conservatives For A Change.” This PAC is trying to persuade grassroots Republicans to choose DeWine / Husted as the Republican candidates for Governor / Lieut. governor. The Republican Primary is May 8.

The literature says,

“The American Dream doesn’t have to be just a dream. That dream can become a reality for everyone who calls Ohio home. To make that happen, we need someone who will uphold our conservative values. Mike DeWine is that leader. The one who will fight for our shared values to keep the American Dream alive and well.”

The literature doesn’t explain how “Ohio Conservatives For A Change” defines “American Dream.” It does say, however, “Together Mike and Jon will get to work combating the issues facing the Buckeye state to put our families, our children and our grandchildren in a position to succeed.”

Wow. “Ohio Conservatives For A Change,” wants to elect government officials who will “put our families, our children and our grandchildren in a position to succeed.”  It makes me want to know more about the families paying for this literature. This PAC evidently believes it makes for effective propaganda to make the claim to Republican families receiving this literature — those likely to vote in the Republican primary — that electing Dewine / Husted will help advantage their children and their grandchildren. Of course it’s safe to assume that these Republican children are already advantaged by the current status quo — these children already are in a “position to succeed.” The message of this PAC is that Dewine / Husted will help maintain the status quo.

We need a good debate about what the “American Dream” means. Certainly it must mean much more that maintaining the position of the wealthy and powerful to succeed. It must include the dream of a republic where there is “liberty and justice for all.” Since there is no liberty nor justice without adequate income, an “American Dream,” worthy of the name, is one of a republic where all citizens have income adequate for a decent life. Our system of self-government, as it is, fails to deliver such a republic. On the contrary, it structures and empowers an economy where over 85% of new income goes to the one percent.  Protecting and advancing the status quo doesn’t seem a reasonable choice — if the goal is “liberty and justice for all.” Protecting the status quo is a logical goal if the whole point is “to put our families, our children and our grandchildren in a position to succeed.”

I’d like to see political campaigns this year center on answering these questions:

  • What is the American Dream?
  • What Should Be The Role Of Government In Helping Citizens Achieve The American Dream?

 

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

In the business meeting for the Montgomery County Democratic Party this evening, I’d like to see the formation of a committee that is charged with establishing a long-term plan for the vitalization of our local party organization. I’d like to see the coming Reorganization Meeting approve a six year plan — call it “Project 2024” — so that the culmination of the plan aligns with the Montgomery County’s total eclipse on April 8, 2024.

  • What would MCDP look like in 2024, IF we achieve our highest goal — our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)?
  • What is our year-by-year plan for achieving our BHAG?

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Democrats should have discussions and debates that will lead to consensus concerning what such a six year plan should contain. The goal is that the newly elected Central Committee will approve a new MCDP Constitution at the Reorganization Meeting that will formalize a consensus six year plan.

I’m writing a proposal for such a committee to discuss and improve. I’ll soon post it on DaytonOS and hopefully this will inspire some online discussion and debate.

In my view, the party needs a big reorientation of purpose.  In many ways the MCDP is stuck in the same thinking and organizational structures as at the time of the last total eclipse in Dayton in 1918.

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 Facts:

  • At present Montgomery County has about 58,000 voters who are designated as Democrats by the Board of Elections. This is 16% of registered voters. About 89,000 voters are designated Republican, about 24%. This means that 60% of registered voters never vote in Democratic or Republican Primaries. This non-involvement goes along with polls that show that 40% of voters now claim to be Independent or Nonpartisan.
  • In 2014, the newly elected MCDP Central Committee had only 132 members.  This is about 1/4 of one percent of Montgomery County’s registered Democrats.

 

Conclusions:

  • A vitalized MCDP must productively engage many more Democrats than are now engaged. In my view, rather than MCDP being an elite representative body, we need to structure MCDP to be a warm and inviting community where every participant has a voice and a vote.  Here is a mind experiment of sorts: Suppose in 2024 that 10% of registered Montgomery County Democrats — 5800 people — are active in the party. Suppose on average each person gives at least 20 hours per year in action. What is the motivation? What is the activity?
  • A vitalized MCDP must establish itself as a brand that appeals to Independents / Nonpartisans. In my view, our opportunity to appeal to Nonpartisans is by structuring MCDP as a connected and inviting deliberative democracy that is focused on preparing and advancing candidates dedicated to acting as public servants. Nonpartisans often say that they choose the person, not the party. It should be part of our brand that we are committed to processes where the cream can rise to the top and that the candidates chosen by our party came about through an admirable process.  We need to find venues to build relationships with nonpartisans. We need to build nonpartisan communities centered on civics education.

We need to build a local Democratic Party that is structured as a 21st century grassroots organization. Such an organization would effectively use technology to advance its mission. Its organizational structure would be flat rather than pyramidal. It would generously empower its members with leadership opportunities. It would re-frame its purpose and mission so that inspires and thrills the youth.

In my view, the party must put its confidence in this premise: When democracy wins, Democrats win.  We need to focus on democracy winning. Our purpose as a party should be defined as electing individuals to public office who are of the people and for the people.  As a party we need to walk the walk and structure ourself as an inviting deliberative democracy — the party of the people, the party that empowers the people, the party that works to build harmony and community.

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