To Become A Strong Organization, The MCDP Central Committee Must Commit To Acting As A Representative Body

I recently got a scalding email from a Central Committee member who had attended the meeting that approved the Rev. Ward endorsement. He was indignant that I had written: “Nobody in that group wanted the vote concerning Ward / Fairchild to be on record and to be made public.” He wrote: “I was in that group, and your assessment of my motives is simply incorrect.  What proof do you have to back up your claim?”

I replied that the proof of such a claim starts with the fact that not one person in the group called for a roll-call vote. The Rev. Ward endorsement amounted to a secret vote, because there was no record kept. For this bonehead decision there is no accountability. There is no way to discover who voted to endorse, who voted to not endorse and who failed to vote.

But, I’ve thought it over, and I can see that the complaining Central Committee member makes a good point. He’s right: I really can’t know the motives of the people who were in the room. The group was simply following its usual pattern. There may have been members very concerned about the lack of transparency in this endorsement decision, but who didn’t realize that making a motion for a roll-call vote was even an option. Maybe there were those who wanted a roll-call, but realized that a majority of the group would never support such a motion. In the eight years I served on the Central Committee, from 2006-2014, I didn’t make such a motion for a roll-call vote in any meeting either and I can’t recall there ever being a roll-call vote.

My thinking has changed. Thank you Donald Trump. I’m gripped by the conviction that we are in desperate need of a strong Democratic Party. We need a sense of urgency that maintaining the status quo is not good enough — doing more of the same, but with greater enthusiasm, is not good enough.We need a vision of a twenty-first century Democratic Party.

We need to have a debate about what a strong twenty-first century Democratic Party would look like. I’ve come to the conclusion that only democracy can save the Democratic Party, and that only a Democratic Party committed to democracy can be saved. A commitment to democracy must begin in the party. We must walk the walk. The Central Committee must come to grips with its responsibility to act as a representative body.

Endorsements require a super majority — a two-thirds vote — in the Central Committee. Some endorsement votes would not clear this high bar — if there was opposition whipping a “No” vote. The problem is, the MCDP Central Committee doesn’t have a history of seeing itself as a legislative body. By long tradition, it sees itself as a rubber stamp to the actions of the Executive Committee and the Screening Committee. It’s my conclusion: To Become A Strong Organization, The MCDP Central Committee Must Commit To Acting As A Representative Body.

I’ve had a couple of good discussions with other Central Committee members about the proposed change to the Constitution calling for  roll-call vote for all motions concerning endorsement. I agree, in a political party our obligation is to be transparent to our constituents, not to the whole world, so I’ve revised my proposed amendment (#9 below).

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


Proposed Changes to the MCDP Constitution

  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.A New Name: “The Montgomery County Democratic Party.”
  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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