Welcome to Nuts & Bolts. A few times a year, this series looks beyond campaigns and to the makeup of the party itself, the rules, resolutions, proposals and general outlook that shape what the party wants to be for the future. The Democratic Party, like everything in our life, will change and grow as our understanding and our society change and grows. It is a healthy and important part of making sure that we stay in tune with the voters we need every November. It is also an opportunity to look at our country in a moment and address new problems that may not have existed five, 10, 15, or 20 years ago.
There are a lot of items that come up at a DNC meeting, and this week, we’re going to talk about the proposals that came before the body and what they mean. Included, you’ll find links and some discussion about what comes next for the Democratic party! If you are in Washington, D.C., and want to attend, here is the schedule, and remember: Our party meetings are open to the public.
The Democratic Party Resolutions Committee
The Democratic party considered several resolutions. Resolutions are statements of values put forward by the members and regard general party positions on what we believe. Resolutions are not enforceable on any campaign or party, in general, but as a statement of belief, they provide people an understanding of where our membership wants the party to go.
This year, in resolutions, the party considered as always honoring those who have died but have provided a lifetime of service to the party, congratulations for President Biden’s successful passage of legislation, and statements of values around dark money.
Some resolutions succeed, while others will not. This year, resolution 19, regarding the use of “dark money” in Democratic primaries would be considered banned by the DNC. As a statement of values, there is a level of binding worth to the proposal. The proposal points out that the meddling of outside dark money into primaries has caused harm to our end goal of electing more and better Democratic candidates.
One problem, as addressed within the meeting and beyond, is whether or not the DNC or any organization actually has the power to ban such use. In other words, even if the measure passed it would not, in any real way, stop any candidate, donor, or dark money organization from spending on these primary races. They simply do not ask the party for permission before they get involved.
As a statement of values, however, can be important in allowing other candidates to point out when someone goes outside of what is an accepted party value, something that can matter in a party primary, especially a closed or tight primary.
The Rules and Bylaws Committee
With a Democratically held White House, the Rules and Bylaws committee took up making significant revisions to the general rules and bylaws that govern the national and state parties. Some of the changes made this year will be very significant and welcome.
Some of these rules changes are:
- Updating party documents to reflect gender expression
- Expand the understanding of the responsibilities the DNC has to the members of the party
- Changing terminology around Asian American and Pacific Islanders
- The allowance of non-in-person voting for those that need a proxy, especially in consideration of COVID and our own health
- The party will change that it seeks a job for all to a LIVING WAGE job for all; and that we are a party that stands for the living wage
- Updates to the rules to reflect the status of those who are gender-non-binary and consideration of sexual expression in all areas of our platform to match the expression of the individual.
These are considered significant movements within our party to modernize our documents and to continue to improve our party to reflect the desires of those involved.
However, along with these positive proposals, one proposal came forward and will likely pass, Amendment 16, which garnered a level of pushback from reformers. The proposal notes that any rule passed at the Democratic Convention, considered the highest rules creation body of our party until this weekend, will not be in force until it is ratified by the DNC. This has caused pushback by reformers who note that the call for the Unity Reform Commission, civil rights changes before that, and other convention-led proposals would be left dormant until months later under this condition. In the case of the Unity Commission, it would have allowed delegates to the convention to believe they had received some level of support while present, only to find that six months later, a vote of DNC members had stopped the commission from ever meeting.
As always, the party looks at these issues and takes them seriously; your DNC members from your state should be open to a discussion with you on how they voted, why, and if there are any issues they specifically supported.
Ask your DNC member to be involved! Work with them to advance resolutions you care about, and help them sign on to be active. I’ve often contended that you can work within the Democratic structure to make changes in the way the party works. You can decide to participate knowing that your participation means something and your voice matters!
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