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From The Vaults

Democrats Should Write A New MCDP Constitution That Envisions And Structures A Strong Twenty-First Century Party

The Montgomery County Democratic Party’s quadrennial Reorganization Meeting scheduled for June, 2018, will give local Democrats the opportunity to reimagine the party and to re-write the current MCDP Constitution. Democrats need to discuss the future of their local Democratic party organization. What should the party look like in five or ten years? How can we organize to best take advantage of communication technologies?

A good place to start the discussion is to consider the purpose of the Democratic Party. We want to elect a lot of Democrats, but why? What is our purpose? Is it all about passing progressive laws like “Medicare for All”? It seems the main message that the party seeks to deliver is: Vote for Democrats because we advocate for public policies that benefit you. Of course, the Republican Party has the same message, different policies. Campaigns come down to merchandizing.

To imagine the Democratic Party of the future, we need to respond to the fact that, when polled, over 40% of voters now claim to be Independent. There is growing cynicism and distrust within the public about political parties. More and more voters claim they vote for the person — not for the party. Moving forward, MCDP needs to answer these two challenges:

  1. How do we conduct ourselves as a party to establish a brand that will attract Independent voters?
  2. How do we nurture and identify outstanding candidates for public office?

I’m thinking that the brand the party needs to develop is one focused on process and accountability. As a political organization we need to conduct ourself as a model of deliberative grassroots democracy that encourages initiative and leadership in its members. We need to establish a record of holding our candidates, when elected, to a high standard of transparency and accountability.

Here is the message I believe the party should strive to deliver: Vote for Democrats because we are committed to making our system of representative democracy work as it should. Actions, of course, speak louder than words and to deliver this message the party needs transformation. I’m working on a proposal for a new MCDP Constitution that structures MCDP as a grassroots democracy. Here is how it my first draft starts:

 

The Constitution Of  The Montgomery County Democratic Party

The MCDP mission: To prepare, to elect, and to sustain leaders who are of the people.

A vital republic requires talented leaders “of the people” dedicated to advancing the general good. This constitution declares that the mission of the MCDP is to generate and empower such leaders, to shepherd their election to government, and to encourage and support them once elected. It outlines structures and strategies to advance this mission based on the premise that outstanding leaders are not made, but under the right conditions they can be discovered and developed. This constitution structures MCDP as an inviting grassroots organization, a deliberative democracy, a network of local communities where there is a place for everyone to be meaningfully engaged. It offers many opportunities for the expression of creativity and the development and practice of leadership.

This constitution outlines opportunities meant to energize and greatly expand MCDP’s base of active Democrats. The goal is that by 2022 the MCDP will have at least 5000 active members connected and working productively together.

Some Features Of This Proposal:
  1. The membership of the Central Committee will consist of all individuals elected as precinct captains at the Democratic Primary. In addition membership of the CC will include any loyal Democrat living in the county who has voted in at least two of the last four Democratic primaries, who applies for membership, and who agrees to the terms of membership.
  2. The membership of the Executive Committee will consist of all individuals elected as precinct captains at the Democratic Primary.
  3. The Chairperson of the Central Committee and the Executive Committee will be the same person and will be elected at the quadrennial Reorganization Meeting.
  4. Only those Democrats elected as precinct captains at the Democratic Primary will have voting rights at the Reorganization Meeting.
  5. All MCDP general meetings, as well all MCDP committee meetings, will be open to online participation by all qualified members of those committees and will follow the rules established by those committees.
  6. MCDP will be divided into five regional caucuses: OHD-39, OHD-40, OHD-41, OHD-42, OHD-43. Membership in each caucus will consist of Central Committee members who live within the geographic region of the given Ohio House District.
  7. Each OHD caucus will be a standing committee with its own officers, budget, and agenda. Each caucus will be reorganized every two years and leaders elected. The activities of these caucuses will be set forth in the constitution.
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Should Government Do More To Help The Needy? — Pew Study Shows Huge Partisan Divide 

Interesting article posted at Pew Research — “The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Wider” — reports on its findings about changing views of the citizenry on government aid to the needy. From the article:

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 10.53.33 AM“Over the past six years, the share of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents saying the government should do more to help the needy, even if it means going deeper into debt, has risen 17 percentage points (from 54% to 71%), while the views of Republicans and Republican leaners have barely changed (25% then, 24% today). However, Republicans’ opinions on this issue had shifted substantially between 2007 and 2011, with the share favoring more aid to the needy falling 20 points (from 45% to 25%).

The result: While there has been a consistent party gap since 1994 on government aid to the poor, the divisions have never been this large. In 2011, about twice as many Democrats as Republicans said the government should do more for the needy (54% vs. 25%). Today, nearly three times as many Democrats as Republicans say this (71% vs. 24%).”

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Imagining How A Local Democratic Party Organization Can Help Make Our System Of Democracy Work As It Should

Having read my thoughts on a 21st century Democratic Party, suppose the Democrats in Montgomery County rise up and agree that they want the local MCDP party organization to focus on making our system of representative democracy work as it should. Suppose they labor together, discuss and debate, cry and pounds their heads and suppose, finally, they make this report:

We’ve come to this agreement:

A system of representative democracy that works as it should has the following elements:

  • Nonpartisan civic groups dedicated to making the system work.
  • Transparency in politics and in government
  • A vigorous and open public square where issues are discussed and competing points of view are defended.
  • A citizenry well grounded in civics and well prepared and practiced in civic participation.
  • A competitive and broad-based system of finding the best representative “of the people, for the people.”
  • Political party organizations, structured as deliberative democracies, designed to empower the grassroots.

 

As a partisan political party organization, each of these elements offer a distinct challenge. Here are some of our thoughts:

  1. MCDP should encourage Democrats in Montgomery County who are active in the local party to also be active in helping to initiate and to support local nonpartisan civic clubs — with the goal of creating local clubs of Democrats, Independents and Republicans united in advancing a common mission.
  2. The mission of these civic clubs will be civics education, broadly understood. These clubs will engage school-age youth in after-school civics education projects aimed at increasing in-depth understanding of politics and issues — local to global. These clubs will be debating societies that will provide forums for research, discussion and debate. They will conduct town hall meetings. They will follow the work of elected officials, especially those locally elected, and make that work transparent and easy to understand by the general public
  3. One purpose of these nonpartisan clubs will be to nurture individuals, especially youth, who seek to serve the public in elected office. The goal is that these clubs, over time, will become local institutions of long standing and tradition and that leaders in these clubs will often be elected to public office.
  4. MCDP should establish standards of excellence for elected officials and should develop rubrics for evaluating the work of officials. Candidates who seek election under the party banner should pledge to strive for excellence as defined by the party and MCDP should hold Democratic elected officials accountable to honoring and practicing those standards.
  5. There are 50,000 voters in Montgomery County who consider themselves loyal Democrats. MCDP should engage at least 5% of these voters (2500 individuals) into active voting membership in the MCDP party organization.
  6. MCDP should conduct its general meetings and committee meetings so that they are open for online participation by all MCDP members.
  7. MCDP should encourage primary competition.
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Imagining A Twenty-First Century Democratic Party

Our hope for the future is not found in our current politics. We must do better. Our republic needs a politics of harmonization and unity if we have any hope to deal with the astonishing challenges that await us.

As the world’s oldest democracy with the most powerful economy and military, the future will bring great urgency for America to make its system of representative democracy work as it should. To imagine a 21st century Democratic Party is to realize that the Democratic Party has a huge responsibility to produce the leaders of extraordinary character and wisdom that will help bring us to our best future.

We need a 21st Century Democratic Party built on this mission: To prepare and to elect leaders who are of the people and who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills and civic virtue. 

  1. Such leaders emerge from a bottom-up, grassroots process, rather than a top-down hierarchical process.
  2. They are known by their connection and service to meaningful broad-based communities and by their capacity to deal with conflicting points of view to find an avenue for consensus.

I like the TV ads for “Buddy” the carpet salesman who declares, “We don’t want to make money, we just love to sell carpet.” The 21st Century Democratic Party we need is one that can say, “We just love to make the system of representative democracy work as it is suppose to work.” By focusing on making the system work as it should, Democrats will be elected in droves.

Each of Ohio’s 88 counties has an independent Democratic Party organization structured according to a locally developed and locally approved constitution. The first step to imagining a 21st century Democratic Party, with a mission as stated above, is to envision a Democratic Party in Montgomery County where that mission is a reality. The next step is to prepare a local Montgomery County Democratic Party Constitution that structures that vision into a doable and inspiring organizational structure.

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Two twenty-five year olds seek election In Kettering — They Want Citizens To Have More Say In Local Government

I had the pleasant experience this morning to meet Nuponu Gorneleh who is seeking election to  the office of Mayor of Kettering, and Griffin Derr, who is seeking election to the Kettering City Council. I am impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment of these two twenty-five year olds. I enjoyed their sense of humor.

Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr explaining their campaign to be elected to public office in Kettering

Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr explaining their campaign to be elected to public office in Kettering

Nuponu and Griffin have both lived in Kettering their whole lives and both graduated from Kettering High School. They say there is a tale of two Ketterings. In one there is the best of times and in the other, not so good. They want to help make a local government that serves the interests of both Ketterings and that cares for both Ketterings.

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Nuponu and Griffin are in general agreement with each other.

 

Nuponu and Griffin think that too many Kettering citizens — including millennials like themselves — feel they have no voice in the decisions of the community. They feel left out. These young men say they are seeking public office in Kettering because they want to live in a Kettering where more citizens can have a direct say in local government, where more citizens have a direct say in how the local government spends money. One idea they are kicking around is the notion of a citizen forum. To gain more public support, I am urging them to write a specific plan — that as elected officials they would advance — that would work to give more citizens a direct say in local government.

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It’s great to see young people who are making an effort to make a difference: Nuponu Gorneleh and Griffin Derr

 

I enjoyed talking with Nuponu and Griffin and I’m thinking of throwing the weight of a DaytonOS endorsement behind their candidacies. They would bring a new point of view in the discussion of the Kettering City Council. I think they would be a positive influence.

 

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