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At MCDP Reorganization Meeting I Will Propose A Change In By-Laws To Prohibit Primary Endorsements

Tonight is the big Reorganization Meeting for the Montgomery County Democratic Party.  Those Democrats elected in the May 4 Democratic Primary to the Central Committee will be the voting delegates.  A county chairperson will be selected for a four year term, ward leaders will be selected via caucus, and a constitution and by-laws will be approved.

At this meeting, only a majority is needed to ratify new by-laws and I am proposing a big change — that the MCDP stop its practice of endorsing candidates seeking nomination in a Democratic Primary.  The point of a Primary is to empower regular Democrats, and, it seems to me that the current endorsement practice of the MCDP is anti-democratic.

According to Ohio’s Revised Code, each precinct may elect one member to the Central Committee, but of the 360 precincts in Montgomery County, only 186 precincts had any Democratic candidate.  This weak showing is not accidental, as I write here:  Special Interests Controlling Montgomery County Democratic Party Suppress Expansion Of Participation.

I first became involved in the Montgomery County Democratic Party in 2006, when I volunteered to become a delegate for the Kettering precinct (4-K) where I live.  I’ve been surprised to learn that the MCDP operates as a very anti-democratic boss driven system.

It took me a while to catch on.  In October, 2007, I made a motion that the Central Committee should make no endorsement of Primary candidates prior to the deadline for submitting petitions.  I thought this motion might get support.  After all, how does it make sense to endorse without knowing who all of the potential candidates might be?  See: Montgomery County Democrats Defeat Endorsement Motion

The point of the endorsement process, as traditionally practiced by the MCDP, I discovered, is to suppress primary participation.

I was enlightened about what MCDP is all about during the short debate that occurred in response to my motion.  One insistent person demanded that the discussion be stopped and the question called.  I thought there was a lot more to discuss about the whole matter of MCDP endorsement policies and didn’t appreciate the steam roller parliamentary action to suppress discussion.  The chairperson of the MCDP, Mark Owens, is an elected official, the Clerk of Courts.  My Aha moment occurred only later, when I learned that the insistent person demanding discussion be stopped is an employee in Mark Owens’ office.

At a later Central Committee meeting, as I looked around at the small group in attendance, I realized that,  at its core, the MCDP is a small clique of elected officials and Democrats with patronage jobs. It is the self interest of this group that drives MCDP actions and policies, and this small group is very unrepresentative of Montgomery County Democrats, in general.

At this evening’s Reorganization Meeting, of the 186 elected delegates, maybe 100 will show up for the meeting. The small number of precincts represented will mean, I’m sure, that the controlling clique will get its way. A central question for this Reorganization Meeting should be:  What are the organizational policies that we should consider adopting that could make us act as a more vigorous, more fully engaged, and more successful organization?  The secret, it seems to me, is that we should implement policies that will make us, as an organization, a more vigorous democracy — the that encourages meaningful participation.  We should find ways to use technology, for example, moving toward web-based meetings, rather than insisting that members each month drive down down to party headquarters.  And we need to change our endorsement policy.

Here is the motion I will offer. I do have a second.

Whereas, Thomas Jefferson said that we “are naturally divided into two parties: Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes [and] Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe ….”; and

Whereas, The Montgomery County Democratic Party identifies with the people and believes the best leadership is found through vigorous democracy; and

Whereas, The Montgomery County Democratic Party seeks to encourage grassroots participation where all citizens are encouraged to participate in the political process; and

Whereas, The Montgomery County Democratic Party seeks to strengthen all of our communities by connecting people to the political process; and

Whereas, The Montgomery County Democratic Party seeks to be the Party “of the people, by the people and for the people”; therefore,

Resolved: The constitution and by-laws of the Montgomery County Democratic Party shall include this provision:

The Selection Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party and the Central Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party in a Democratic Primary may endorse only those Democratic office holders seeking reelection to the same office.

The Selection Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party and the Central Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, in those Democratic Primary contests where no current Democratic office holder is seeking reelection to the same office, are prohibited from endorsing any Democratic Primary candidates.

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