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Special Interests Controlling Montgomery County Democratic Party Suppress Expansion Of Participation

The leadership of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, it appears, is really not much interested in expanding the Party’s membership. It is all about control. It is all about maintaining the status of special interests.

Last night I attended the January meeting of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. I asked our chairperson, Mark Owens, about publicity for the upcoming Reorganization Meeting. His answer — There has been no publicity, so far. Mark said he had sent out one News Release, but, neither the DDN nor any other news media had reported it.

At the December meeting, I made a motion that the Party spend $500 in advertising to attempt to inform Montgomery County Democrats about our big Reorganization Meeting this Spring. My motion went nowhere, but Mark, at that time, indicated that he would take action to publicize this important event. But, nothing.

The deadline for potential delegates to the Reorganization Meeting to file with the Board of Elections is soon upon us — February 18.

I pointed out to Mark that information about this deadline is not even on the Party’s local web-site. Mark indicated, however, that he intended on putting a notice on the web-site very soon. Yesterday, I posted, “To Reform Our ‘Political Class’ System, We Need A Grassroots Movement To Reform Our Political Parties.” The current leadership of the Montgomery County Democratic Party shows no interest in motivating such a grassroots movement.

At the start of the Central Committee Meeting, as people were milling about, I pointed out to Gary Steiger that, likely, most of those present were earning their personal income via their political efforts. There was an unusual number of elected officials in attendance — because the all important Screening Committee, of which they are members, had met prior to the Central Committee Meeting.

Those who might be thought of as “regular Democrats,” last night, I’m guessing, were outnumbered by Democratic elected officials and Democrats who earn their income via patronage jobs provided by the Party. These vested Democrats control the local Democratic party.

Mark Owens, himself, is an elected official, and makes his income as Clerk of Courts. At least one of Mark’s employees, I know, is very active in the County Party organization, and probably more. This seems typical. Employees of elected Democratic officials make up an important part of the local party organization.

The Democrats who control the local Democratic Party organization, it seems, are in one of two special interest groups:

  1. Individuals who make their income via their political connection, with the chair, Mark Owens, the model for this group.
  2. Individuals who feel that because of their longevity and service to the Party, they are entitled to special privilege.

Individuals in both groups are likable and well meaning. But they are mistaken, because they have no interest in the Party operating democratically, no interest in expanding the group to include a lot of “regular Democrats.”

Mark defends the policies and practices of the current leadership and asserts that a majority of Montgomery County Democrats agree with the current leadership. I believe, absolutely, he is wrong. Mark is not taking a chance. He is not using the opportunity of the coming Reorganization Meeting to invite “regular Democrats” to meaningful participation within the local party.

The antidemocratic policies of the current party leadership, that focuses on advancing the special interests of the current leadership, mean that it is impossible for the Party to do a good job. The inertia of the group is overwhelming. The group is stuck in the old ways — including topdown boss management — from 50 years ago.

The internet makes it possible to form active meaningful communities in which individuals are empowered with shared information and empowered to make meaningful participation. But empowering regular Democrats to full participation in the Party seems risky to those individual who already enjoy special privileges — so the Montgomery County Democratic Party falls far short of accomplishing what it should and could accomplish.

The Party’s failure is seen in the fact that it is not advancing good candidates. It has not prepared for the future. It has failed over the years to groom and inspire good candidate prospects. As of last night, there is no Democratic candidate to take on Republican Mike Turner in the 3rd U.S. Congressional District. There are no candidates to challenge Republican Peggy Lehner in the 37th OHD, nor Republican Terry Blair in the 38th OHD.

This lack of good candidates — the lack of any candidates — is pathetic, a missed opportunity. A vigorous Montgomery County Democratic Party would be a community of Democrats encouraging and challenging each other and forging effective leadership as part of that community. But, as it is, nothing.

The only hope for the Party’s future is that the Party begin to act as a meaningful democratic community — infused with new blood, new ideas, new commitment. The requirement written into state law that political parties must organized according to democratic principles, through free elections, is very wise. We simply need to see that this law is effectively followed — regardless that the special interests are now in control of the local party.

Political parties are essential to our democracy. For our democracy to have any chance of working, political parties must themselves be democratic. We now have less than four weeks to alert and involve Montgomery County Democrats — before the February 18 deadline.

The application to have your name put on the ballot is simple — it only requires your signature. You can download a copy here. Precinct names have changed and I have the voter list in my computer. Send me an e-mail at mbock@att.net, and I will send you your precinct name and number.

You are invited to join my Dayton Democrats group on Facebook.

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