The DNC Unity Reform Committee Has Its Last Meeting This Week

At the 2016 Democratic Convention, there was a resolution proposed to the Rules Committee to establish a Unity Reform Committee after the election of the next DNC Chair. The Commission is composed of Appointees from the DNC, HRC supporters and Sanders supporters. It’s charter calls for the development of a Presidential nominating a process that is “more accessible, transparent and inclusive”. It’s main focus areas are: 1) Expand the use of primary voting, and where caucuses remain, make sure they are open, honest and non-burdensome to voters; 2) Figure out how to expand the voting pool by including Independent voters; 3) look at ways to make the Party move competitive down-ballot, how to get a better handle on redistricting, how to reduce reliance on corporate funding; 4) review of the role and necessity of superdelegates.

This Commission has been meeting for almost a year and is set to have its final meeting in December (this week!) to be ready to submit their recommendations in January. It is difficult to find news on the progress of these meetings, but the DNC website does provide some minutes and video updates. And there has been Twitter.  Boy has there ever been Twitter.

You may have seen some recent reporting on demands that Bernie Sanders is making of the commission — widely interpreted as a last-ditch effort to remake the rules to better suit him and his supporters. If you are following this argument on Twitter, multiple Commission participants look to be trying to find ways to avoid some of the directives of the Resolution to push for expansions of caucuses.

There’s a couple of key things on the table here and to watch for.  The Commission is specifically supposed to look to expand the use of primaries to select delegates to the convention and where not possible, review caucus rules to make caucuses more accessible to more voters.  To be able to include more Democrats to the process, cleaning up the primary process is the most inclusive path.  Caucuses, while they have some fans, are the least inclusive way of counting Democratic votes.  You can see this in the Washinton (state) process — where the state runs a normal primary and the Dem State Party runs caucuses to select delegates. The drop off in votes between the primary (660K voters) and the caucus (230K voters) is pretty big and should provide the answer as to which is more inclusive and has the better potential of representing the will of Democrats.  Still, if you are following some of the Sanders’ UFC members, you can see a discussion that wants to expand the use of caucuses, not cut them back.  Twitter is not an official conversation, though, but I am very concerned that there are members of this commission who are specifically interested in a voting process that works on disenfranchising so many.  Remember also that while the DNC can make many recommendations here, it is up to the states to implement any recommendations.

This effort also is meant to include recommendations to allow same-day registration or re-registration for new or unaffiliated voters.  No real objections to this, as long as the voters re-registered as unaffiliated.  There probably ought to be a time limit for changing after a primary, especially for states who may have multiple primary days.

The existence and the scope of voting automomy of Superdelegates are also up for discussion.  I’m agnostic on the existence of Superdelegates — mainly because among this group of people, the thing that they lend to any campaign is MUCH greater than their pledged vote.  Still, I am in favor of making this a much smaller group at minimum.

Other reforms the UFC are looking into include:

(1) how to make the party and its candidates more competitive in all regions of the country;

(2) how to make the DNC and state parties full and accountable partners in the process of mobilizing voters and winning elections at all levels;

(3) how to support and oversee Democratic efforts in legislative and congressional reapportionment and redistricting to ensure Democratic majorities in state legislatures and in Congress;

(4) how to broaden the base of the party and empower rank and file Democrats at the grassroots level; and

(5) how to expand the DNC’s donor base (a) to make it less dependent on large  contributions, (b) to get more people invested in the party, and (c) to enable the party to support important electoral programs.

As you might expect, other groups also have ideas that they want to be considered:

  • A rule that any Democratic candidate for President has to have been registered as a Democrat for the last 2 years, minimum,
  • All Primaries should be closed Primaries,
  • Complete elimination of the caucus process,
  • Require all Presidential candidates to release 10 years minimum of tax returns

All good ideas and all efforts Tom Perez has started implementing if what I saw from the Fall Meeting was any indication.  Item 3 I will note is never going to be more than an oversight function, since this is an action that is owned by states.  I would like to see ideas on how to connect the various redistricting reform efforts connected to states.

But to me, the real question is how we extend the success of Virgina and other off-season pickups to other states.  There was work and focus on those races (that was not just GRIFTUS aversion) that absolutely can be replicated everywhere.  If the DNC as any long-term role (other than Presidentials), they really need to be all hands in on supporting local organizing.  Current directive from Perez is that Democrats are organizing all year, every year and for races from school board to President.  And he is funneling money to State parties to support organizing efforts.

So keep watch on the news from DNC HQ this week.  It looks from here that Perez and Ellison are working at getting on the right track.  I just hope that this URC meeting and report doesn’t derail this good work.

You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. -- Shirley Chisolm

19 comments on “The DNC Unity Reform Committee Has Its Last Meeting This Week

  1. Delaware Dem

    I have long said I would trade the elimination of all Super Delegates for the elimination of all caucuses. And while I do not want fully open primaries, because I believe a party’s nomination process should be decided by those who either are or want to be Democrats (if only for this election). So for the primaries, have the registration deadlines as close up to the election date as possible (2 weeks maximum, but not straight up same day, so to dissuade cross party mischief) rather than some other examples we have seen, like New York State, where you had to be registered as a Dem nearly 6 months before the primary in order to vote in the primary. That is straight out vote suppression and dumb, because why would you want to dissuade new voters from joining the party?

    • cassandram

      As long as there is Iowa, I doubt that caucuses will go away. I’d like for the DNC to look at ways to incentivize the No Caucuses deal though.

  2. “Super Delegates” were a dumb idea to begin with for the party that stands for equality in all things. Completely against open primaries, it invites meddling by outsiders. The five suggested reforms all come under the heading of way weren’t we doing this all along? The DNC has been a negative for the Dems, an unwanted distraction and in the case of Wasserman -Schultz and Donna Brazile making the party look bad. Big fan of all the suggestions from “other groups”, especially the candidate must have been a registered Dem for two years. Love him or hate him Bernie damaged Clinton towards the end of his campaign, he’s not a Dem and never should have been treated as one.

    • “…Bernie damaged Clinton….”-wik’

      Clinton was already damaged goods when she lost against Obomba 8 years ago.

      • Gee, it would seem Reagan came back from losing to Ford in 1976 and went on to win two terms.

        • Reagan had qualifications other than being spouse of a two term president.

          • cassandram

            A B List actor married to another B List actor isn’t exactly the stuff to write home about, But it did give some credibility to the bamboozlement he was selling. Well, credible to the people who did not know any better, let’s say.

            • Well, he was also a two term governor of a state with a larger economy than all but a handful of countries.

          • Yes… Because Secretary of State and U.S. Senator are demonstrably less qualifications than starring in Bedtime for Bonzo and being a Governor.

            • Do you honestly believe she would have been either of those if she had not been married to Slick Willie?

              • cassandram

                Have you ever honestly seen her resume? Of course she could have.

              • xyz, do YOU honestly believe that dumb hill-Billy would have been able to determine a policy position from his arse if not for Ms Rodham? If they had never met, she would still be an important figure in public life and he would be just another gross trailer park inhabitant.

            • On her husband’s name, she made U.S. Senator, albeit she proved, at best, an unexceptional one. Now as Secretary of State, “unexceptional” would be a charitable understatement. So much for Clinton’s “qualifications”.

    • cassandram

      The creation of Superdelegates had some logic — as in the RNC wished they had them last cycle. Don’t care if they exist or not, while they may not be a public vote of support ahead of a convention, they can funnel other support to campaigns they like that is probably more useful. The people who think that Superdelegates are part of the problem don’t eliminate the real contribution that the most senior members and pols in the party can make to a national candidate. I am absolutely against an open primary, but would support an effort to encourage same day registration for states and allowing people who are unaffiliated with a party the ability to choose a ballot that day.

      • The D-party Superdelegates “real contribution” was to tilt the primary in favor of the one candidate that was sure to lose against the worst candidate the R-party could field.

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