Friday, June 15, 2012

Another victory for democracy, transparency in the Democratic Party—this time in the Pennsylvania Democratic party!

Some friends of mine who are very disillusioned with the Democratic Party and see little hope for improvement ask me why I bother working within the Democratic Party. Every once in awhile something happens which makes me think it might be worth it after all.

Progress shouldn’t be this painfully slow, but the determination and persistence of Tracey Gordon and Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus has finally paid off. The Philadelphia Democratic Party finally acknowledged that Tracey Gordon won election as committeeperson in 2010 and seated her. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Pennsylvania Democratic Progressive Caucus, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party is becoming more democratic, more transparent.

On June 9 a resolution initiated by the PA Democratic Progressive Caucus was passed unanimously by Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. The resolution stated:

Whereas, that in all 67 counties in the State of Pennsylvania there is only one process in effect for the election of Democratic Committee people and that the Committee person election process has guidelines set forth by the Pa. Dept. of State and State election laws; and

Whereas, we recognize that that all 67 Democratic County Committees are obligated to have rules and by-laws that are consistent with our State Party by-laws; and

Whereas, it should only be practical, that in all 67 counties that there is only one process in effect to remove an elected county committee person from office within the Pennsylvania Democratic Party;

Therefore, be it resolved, that we the elected committee people of the Democratic State Party respectfully request that the leadership of the State Democratic Party commission the state by-laws committee to establish a review and recommendation process for a due process procedure of the removal of county committee people and to submit a draft to all state committee members for the Jan./Feb. 2013 30 day call.

Last Fall the Philadelphia Democratic Progressive Caucus asked the PA Democratic Progressive Caucus to bring the Philadelphia Democratic Party’s refusal to seat Tracey Gordon to the PA Dem. Party Executive committee and seek a remedy. Initially there was reluctance to deal with this issue but the Progressive Caucus persisted and the July 9 resolution was the result. Special thanks to Bruce Slater, Chair of the PA Democratic Progressive Caucus who made many, many phone calls to state committee members all around the state getting their support for this issue. That outreach will no doubt pay off in many other ways.

The By-laws Committee will have a draft of new by-laws consistent with the resolution by the next State Committee meeting and Party Chair Jim Burn made a public commitment that this would be done. I have seen a change in Burn. I think he now recognizes that the PA Democratic Progressive Caucus is a force to be reckoned with and Burn is now talking about making the Party more democratic, more transparent.

Also two additional resolutions initiated by the PA Democratic Progressive Caucus, support for same sex marriage and for women’s rights, were passed at June 9 state committee meeting. The women’s rights resolution was passed unanimously; the same-sex marriage resolution passed by an overwhelming margin. The energy in the Pennsylvania State Democratic Party is with the Progressive Caucus.

Irv Acklesberg and the ACLU intend to pursue legal remedies and are currently considering options which could result in a ruling enjoining the Phila. Democratic Party from ever again nullifying the results of a democratically conducted election for a county or committeepersons.

Of course it shouldn’t be so hard to get the Democratic Party to conduct its business in a fair, democratic manner. And some times I question whether it’s worth working within the party , BUT at this point I think a reformed, revitalized Democratic party is the only option for keeping an energized, well-funded radical right at bay and creating some space for progressive politics.

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