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Angry at the DNC?
How To Fix the Democratic National Committee

June 18, 2019
by William P. Meyers

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Lack of Democracy, or anger at a democratic result?

"Blame it on Cain
Don't blame it on me
It's nobody's fault
But we need somebody to burn"—Elvis Costello

A lot of people are angry at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or are being told they should be. This has happened at other times in the party's history, but ramped up to a fever pitch during the 2016 Presidential Primaries.

I'm going to tell you how to take over the DNC. If you can't be bothered with that, it is on you. I'm not expecting much. I know I am addressing people who can't face up to the facts, are lazy, and want to blame someone else for everything that is wrong. An example is the rabid Bernard Sanders supporters who can't admit he just plain lost the primaries in 2018, and that it had little or nothing to do with the DNC.

Still, if the Bernardettes or any other group wants to fix the DNC to their particular liking, the group needs to deal with reality. Whining won't work (though it might get you a hushpuppy in other situations).

The DNC is the central body of the Democratic Party of the United States of America. It is not the whole party, but it certainly is the national headquarters. Its decisions can affect the whole party, but it is not a dictatorship over the party. State and local party groups have considerable autonomy. As I will demonstrate, they ultimately have the real power.

There are typically four tiers to this system. The DNC is at the top. At the next level are the state parties. Then, depending on local circumstances, typically you have the county central committees and local committees. But in addition to that there are many groups that interact with the party, including elected officials and campaigns that are seeking to elect government officials.

Currently the DNC has over 300 members. Each state's (and some U.S. territories like Guam) chair and vice-chair is on the committee, plus each state gets apportioned additional members.

Members are not appointed by billionaires or even party insiders. Members are elected. But by who? It you want to change the party at the top, at the DNC level, you need to understand the lower levels.

I live in the state of Washington, a mid-sized state, population 7.5 million, which I will use as an example. The Washington State Democrats have a central committee. This committee is composed of " two state committeemembers elected by each county central committee and by each legislative district organization, with one (1) identifying as male and one (1) identifying as female. Members shall be elected to terms of two (2) years." In addition there are Special Members, including people who are elected to national offices, if they are Democrats. There are some restrictions on voting by Special Members.

Washington state has 39 counties and 49 legislative districts. So there are 196 members of the central committee. The setup tends to favor rural counties, since they get the same number of representatives as urban counties, most notably King County, which includes Seattle. The legislative districts tend to have relatively equal populations. Thus Seattle and King county encompass several legislative districts, including mine, the 46th.

So how does a county or legislative district choose its representatives for the state party, which in turn sends representatives to the DNC? We vote. I have been present at the 46th Legislative District's elections of its representatives to the King County Democrats and to the Washington State Democratic Party Central Committee. It is done like any other democratically run organization. People are nominated for the offices, and then everyone votes. Majority rule.

But you do need to be a member of the local Democratic Party organization which votes for the State Committee, which then selects its representatives to the DNC. What is required for membership? In my local organization you need to join, giving your personal information. You need to pay dues, which can be as little as $10 per year. Also, if you are new, you need to do this at least 21 days before the endorsement meeting.

So what are the Bernie supporters and others complaining about the DNC complaining about? The $10 annual dues? Well, they don't like particular decisions of the DNC, which is likely true of all of us from time to time. But what they really don't like is that they don't get to make the decisions they like, all of the time.

In other words, they don't like democracy itself. They think they are right, and they think they should be a ruling minority because they think they are right.

Bernard Sanders, the Senator from Vermont, has steadfastly refused to join the Democratic Party that his fans complain about not controlling.

But suppose that, like me, you want the DNC to be more progressive (however you define that) and less whatever you think it is as opposed to that, let's be polite and call it moderate.

We would need a majority on the DNC. That means we would need a majority for most of the state parties. In turn, within each state, that means majorities at local levels.

Which means showing up at meetings. It should mean actively participating, including helping to elect Democratic Party candidates.

A lot of progressives (and socialists) are already doing that. That includes me. It will likely take some time, and success is not assured. Moderation is favored by many people from the grassroots level all the way up the chain, and they often have good arguments, even facts that support their arguments.

What I hear a lot of is people, lets call them leftists, who are critical of the DNC, but can't be bothered to go to meetings.

I have seen this in other organizations I have been in, and in the 46th Dems since I joined soon after Trump was elected President. There were a lot of Bernie supporters coming to meetings then. I think we sometimes had over 100 people at meetings. But as time passed, people drifted away, particularly Bernie supporters. So now it is difficult to muster 50 people at a meeting. Meaning that Bernie supporters lost opportunities to elect people to the higher bodies that eventually send people who determine the fate of the DNC.

Of course, it should not be about a personality cult like the one Bernard built. It should be about issues and principles. It should be built to last.

I was left-of-Democrat from 1973 until 2017. There is nothing wrong with being in that space. It is a space that sometimes generates good ideas that percolate into the political culture. Over those decades I have seen the Democrats embrace some of those ideas and make them into national policy.

My assessment is that the Democratic Party has become, on the whole, very progressive. That means if we can capture the House, Senate, and Presidency at the same time, and get a couple of sane people appointed to the Supreme Court, we could address some of the serious problems that confront American, the human race, and indeed all life on earth.

Of course powerful economic and social interests also want to control the DNC. People with money can spend time on politics, or get hired help, in a way ordinary citizens cannot. But we outnumber them. We just need to make good decisions and be persistent.

Whining (on social media) and voting are not enough. Join the Democratic Party and participate. Or for that matter, join a socialist party or a single-issue group, and join the Democrats too. If you do nothing, or too little, Trump and his volunteers will continue to make a mess of things.

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