The following commentary appeared Dec. 7 on CNN.com
By Tom Perez and Keith Ellison
Trust holds families together, and our Democratic family is no exception. As we enter the final meeting of the Democratic National Committee's Unity Reform Commission, where members will vote on proposals to reform the Democratic Party, we must focus on ensuring that voters across the nation trust our party.
As chair and deputy chair of the DNC, we are committed to ensuring that our party is inclusive, forward-looking and bold in prescribing an alternative to President Donald Trump's destructive policies and his politics of divisiveness and deception. We know Democrats can win big in 2018 and 2020, just as we did this year in New Jersey, Virginia and across the country -- but we know we can only do that by rebuilding trust with those who share our progressive vision for America and by addressing concerns many have raised in recent years.
Democrats can win big if we're united, and we know that can only happen by healing divisions that still linger from last year's bruising presidential nominating contest.
This has never been more important. This is one of the biggest stress tests our democracy has ever faced. Middle-class families and the working poor have not shared in the Wall Street boom. The Koch brothers and their band of ultra-conservative billionaire friends continue to assert an already outsize influence on our elections.
Republicans are leading a coordinated, nationwide effort of voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering, both of which threaten the right of the American people to exercise power over their government and hold their representatives accountable. And there is growing evidence that the Russian government and the Trump campaign may have conspired to interfere with the 2016 election.
We've made considerable progress over the past year, but there is no doubt that we have a long way to go. We believe Democrats can win everywhere if we organize and lead with our values. That's why we've implemented our "Every ZIP Code Counts" strategy and changed the DNC's mission so that we're no longer just focused on electing the president, but on electing all Democrats from the school board to the Oval Office.
Rather than spending money on TV, we've focused our efforts on organizing and connecting directly with voters. In fact, through our Resistance Summer program, the new Democratic Party knocked on more than 1 million doors to invite Americans of all walks of life to join us. We made historic investments in Virginia, New Jersey, and in mayoral and legislative races that helped pay big dividends with our major victories last month.
The challenge that lies ahead is to build on the successes of 2017 and continue the progress we're making to rebuild our party, organize, modernize and win. We have opportunities at every level in 2018. We can win back governorships and state legislatures. And we're looking to 2020 to make sure the process is as fair and transparent as possible.
In addition to our commitment and in advance of the Unity Reform Commission's report, we also want to express support for additional reforms that will help ensure the 2020 presidential primary is the most fair, transparent and successful in our history.
We will not win the future by re-litigating the past. But we do have to learn from our past mistakes. That's why we hope DNC members and our Unity Reform Commission will vote to pass the following reforms
Fair and transparent primary process
It's critically important that the DNC doesn't put its thumb on the scale -- in perception or reality -- or that any primary candidate has an unfair advantage. As chair and deputy chair we also believe that we must ensure:
• No party officer should be allowed to support, endorse or favor any candidate in the primary process.
• The debate schedule is decided in advance, instead of negotiating it after all our candidates have entered the race.
• Any and all joint fundraising agreements will be transparent and available to all official campaigns.
In addition, we need to give voters more opportunity to participate in our primaries. In too many states, deadlines to change one's party affiliation are months before voter registration deadlines. This doesn't make sense and only hurts voters by forcing them to choose their affiliation long before Election Day.
These reforms should be part of our broader efforts to make it easier for eligible people to vote. At the DNC, we've been hard at work challenging the Republican assault on voting rights across the country. But we must work with states to implement policies that make it easier to vote, including vote-by-mail laws, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, expanded access to the polls and more robust voter protection efforts.
Making caucuses more accessible
There are too many working people, members of the military, older Americans and students who are left out and not able to make their voices heard at their caucuses because of work, child care or other obligations. That's unacceptable. We can and we must do better. That is why it's critical that the Unity Reform Commission provide recommendations that acknowledge the grass-roots benefit of the caucus process while also finding ways for those who have been excluded on caucus nights to have their votes counted.
'Super delegate' reform
In 2016, unpledged delegates, or what some call "super delegates," made up almost 15% of all delegates at the national convention. To create a fairer process for all candidates and empower grass-roots voters, it is critical that the Unity Reform Commission provide recommendations that uphold the mandate passed by the 2016 Democratic National Convention and provide for a significant reduction in the number of unpledged delegates. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders both agreed on this mandate.
Reforming our party
If we want Democrats to win and stay in power, we have to reform our party in ways that rebuild it from the ground up. A unified Democratic Party is a party that understands that every ZIP code counts and there's no such thing as an off-year. We've already begun making new investments in our state parties and down-ballot races, and our efforts have helped Democrats secure critical victories -- from Virginia and New Jersey to Oklahoma and New Hampshire.
In addition, we must continue to empower diverse grass-roots Democrats at the leadership table. We will build on our recent successes with small-dollar fundraising. And we changed our rules in October to ban corporate donations from political action committees whose goals conflict with our platform. We look forward to finding new ways to make sure we are supporting candidates and state parties across the country in order to succeed in 2017, 2018, and beyond.
The DNC has come a long way since the 2016 election, but we know we have much further to go to earn the trust of voters and bring more people into the electoral process. We have our values and the support of the vast majority of the American people by our side. And when we lead with those values, we win.
The Unity Reform Commission is making our nomination process fairer for all. This work is critical to empowering voters, strengthening our party, and ensuring that Democrats are successful in 2018, 2020 and beyond.
om Perez is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Keith Ellison is the US representative for Minnesota's 5th Congressional District and the deputy chair of the DNC.
ALBANY – Dr. Mike Huntington will speak in support of Ballot Measure 101 at the monthly general meeting of the Linn County Democrats on Thursday, Dec. 7, in the Albany Public Library Meeting Room, 2450 14th Ave. S.E.
The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. A social time with light refreshments begins at 6.
Ballot Measure 101 is a critical and immediate issue, as it will impact the availability of health care for 350,000 Oregonians, including 66,000 children. Measure 101 will be the only item on the Jan. 23 ballot. At stake is the full funding of Medicaid in Oregon.
Mike brings special expertise and knowledge to this discussion on Measure 101.
“It continues,” he said, “what has helped 350,000 or more Oregonians under the Medicaid Expansion Act. I’ve seen the effects of people being prevented from getting the care they need.”
Mike is a graduate of Oregon State University and the University of Oregon Medical School, now Oregon Health Sciences University. He was an Army flight surgeon in Vietnam in 1969.
He was a radiation oncologist for 35 years, and was medical director of the Radiation Oncology Department at Samaritan Regional Cancer Center in Corvallis from 1984-2006.
Since his retirement in 2006, he has joined with physicians and other activists in Corvallis and Oregon to engage colleagues and the public in discussions about the urgent need for healthcare reform.
The group has co-sponsored public forums and given talks to mid-valley civic groups overs the past eight years. In 2007 this group became the Oregon Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. He was president of Health Care for all Oregon in 2012.
Mike lives just north of Corvallis with his wife, Carol, a violinist and retired music teacher. They have a daughter Sara, who is a nurse, and son Tom, who works in construction.
For more information, contact Linn County Democrats Co-chair Graham Kislingbury, 541-974-2075.
Democrats chalked up two big gubernatorial victories Tuesday, with Ralph Northam winning in Virginia and Phil Murphy victorious in New Jersey. See the CNN story
Politics is not a baseball game, and it is not a soap opera.
People are hurting in this country, and our job is not to be distracted by political gossip and Donald Trump's tweets. Our job is to revitalize American democracy and bring millions of people into the political process who today do not vote and who do not believe that government is relevant to their lives. Our job is to create an economy and government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent and wealthy campaign contributors.
Here's the problem: the strategy the Democratic Party has been pursuing in recent years has failed. Since 2009, Democrats have lost more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures across the country. Republicans now control the White House, 34 out of 50 governorships as well as the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. In dozens of states, the Democratic Party is virtually non-existent. Too much is at stake for our country and our people for us not to learn from our past failures and move forward in a way that makes the Democratic Party stronger so we can take on and beat Trump and the right-wing Republican agenda.
What the recently released book excerpt from former interim DNC Chair Donna Brazile made clear is that unless we get our act together, we are not going to be effective in either taking on Donald Trump or in stopping the extremist right-wing Republican agenda. We have to re-establish faith with the American people that in fact we can make positive changes in this country through a fair and transparent political process that reflects the will of voters across this country.
In order to do that, we need to rethink and rebuild the Democratic Party. We need a Democratic Party that opens its doors to new people, new energy and new ideas. We need a Democratic Party that is truly a grassroots party, where decisions are made from the bottom up, not from the top down. We need a Democratic Party which becomes the political home of the working people and young people of this country, black and white, Latino and Asian and Native American ... all Americans.
And we need to make it abundantly clear that the Democratic Party is prepared to take on the ideology of the Koch brothers and the billionaire class – a small group of people who are undermining American democracy and moving this country into an oligarchic form of society. YES. We will take on the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of Wall Street, corporate America, the insurance industry, the drug companies, and the fossil fuel industry.
Now, what the Establishment (political, economic and media) wants us to believe is that real and fundamental changes in our society are impossible.
No. We cannot guarantee health care to all as a right. No. We cannot revitalize the trade union movement, raise the minimum wage to a living wage of $15 an hour and provide pay equity for women. No. We cannot effectively compete in the global economy by making public colleges and universities tuition-free. No. We cannot lead the world in combatting climate change and transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels. No. We cannot reform our broken criminal justice system or finally achieve comprehensive immigration reform.
They want us to think that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, a nation which has more income and wealth inequality than almost any nation on earth, the best that we can do is to accept tiny, incremental change.
I could not disagree more.
Right now, a Democratic National Committee Unity Reform Commission, comprised of people who supported our campaign, people who supported Secretary Clinton's campaign, and people appointed by DNC Chair Tom Perez are working on a set of policies that will determine the future direction of the Democratic Party. In many ways, this Unity Commission will determine whether the Party goes forward in a dynamic and inclusive way, or whether it retains the failed status quo approach of recent years. It will determine whether the Party will have the grassroots energy to effectively take on Donald Trump, the Republican Party and their reactionary agenda or whether we remain in the minority.
In my view, this Commission must:
* Make the Democratic Party more democratic and the presidential contests more fair by dramatically reducing the number of superdelegates who participate in the nominating process. It is absurd that in the last presidential primary over 700 superdelegates (almost one-third of the delegates a candidate needed to win the nomination) had the power to ignore the will of the people who voted in the state primaries and caucuses.
* Make primaries more open by ending the absurdity of closed primary systems with antiquated, arbitrary and discriminatory voter registration laws. Republicans are the ones who make it harder for people to vote, not Democrats. At a time when more and more people consider themselves to be Independents our job is to bring people into the Democratic Party process, not exclude them. It is incredibly undemocratic that in some states voters must declare their party affiliation up to six months before the primary election.
* Make it easier for working people and students to participate in state caucuses. While there is much to be said for bringing people together face-to-face in a caucus to discuss why they support the candidate of their choice, not everybody is able to attend those caucuses at the time they are held. A process must be developed that gives everyone the right to cast a vote even if they are not physically able to attend a state caucus.
* Make the DNC's budget and decision-making processes more open and transparent. If we are going to build a Party that relies on working people who are willing to give $5, $10 and $27 donations, they deserve to know where that money is going and how those decisions are made.
I look forward to following the progress of the Unity Reform Commission, and I urge Chairman Tom Perez and the entire Democratic National Committee to develop policies which move the Democratic Party forward in a very different direction – a direction that will lead us to national and statewide victories. It's important that you do the same:
Please sign the petition calling on the Democratic National Committee and Chairman Tom Perez to accept, support and implement policies which make the Democratic Party more inclusive, more democratic and more transparent.
Right now, our job is to come together, and not be distracted by the political gossip and drama of the moment. We must fight President Trump's destructive efforts to divide us up by the color of our skin, our gender, our religion, our sexual orientation or our country of origin. We must rally the American people to oppose Trump's proposal to provide massive tax giveaways to billionaires while taking away the health care that millions now have.
But we must also make it clear – if we are going to elect Democrats who will move us forward as a country – that we must institute long-needed reforms in the Democratic Party. When we do that, we will not only create a dynamic and progressive party, we will be able to transform our nation and create a government that represents all of us, not just the people on top.
Like most of you, I found Donna Brazile’s book excerpt released yesterday, distressing and very hard to swallow.
Whether you were a Hillary supporter or a Bernie supporter or just a committed Democrat fighting for the election of Democrats up and down the ticket I’m certain that you were profoundly disappointed to learn that our national party had become so financially weak as to be completely dependent on one candidate for its survival.
For some of our troops, the narrative of how this crisis led to a quiet arrangement for control of the DNC immediately became a validation of their long-held beliefs about dishonesty at the center of the Party. For others, it was a deep and confusing shock – quite simply a heartbreaking revelation. Judging from commentary on Facebook, still others feel that nothing has changed; that although the DNC members were kept out of the loop it was legal and therefore a non-event.
I disagree that it’s a non-event. The ground has shifted in the debate that has dogged the Party for more than a year. To be clear, not all accusations that have been made have been validated, but in reality this report from a credible source confirms that, in at least one case, a basic commitment to open processes was ignored. And that the opportunity to misuse leverage was granted.
In addition to its impact on people’s belief in the fairness of our processes in 2016, this brings to a head long-standing concerns about Presidential campaigns taking center stage for the Party every four years with pretty regular negative results -- even when we win. Non-swing states (like our own) get left behind; and too often in the end the national party is left with no cash (and possible debt) to start the next cycle.
It’s clear that we need a permanent infrastructure to support a wide range of Democratic candidates that does not depend on the charisma and fundraising capacities of a national candidate.
Even before these revelations, we are witnessing the beginnings of a new Party orientation. A commitment of funds is in place to provide resources to all 57 state and territorial parties. The DNC is avoiding the mistake of focusing only on Presidential races by engaging in races all around the country at the Congressional level, state legislative levels, and even local races. Even more critically, in the attached message, Chair Perez commits to the outcomes from the Unity Commission and a fair process for the next Presidential candidate selection.
While his statement may be missing what some want more than anything – an apology on behalf of the previous leadership – it does give us something to measure future actions against and to press our Party leadership to assure the future is different from the past.
I came into this office hearing a myriad of accusations and counter accusations, about what happened nationally and locally in 2016. Today, I have a specific reason to express my own regret at what our party leaders did and how they did it.
While your officers were not involved or aware of this situation until now, we absolutely share an institutional sense of responsibility for both the past and the future. I believe I can fairly say that all of us have a renewed commitment to transparency, accountability, and fairness in our own processes, and for advocating for those values at the national level.
I am proud that the Democratic Party of Oregon’s partnerships over the years have been with a whole coalition of Democratic groups, candidates and elected officials. No one candidate pulls this Party’s strings. We will continue that tradition going forward, while looking for still more ways to live our values of inclusion and transparency. We also will not lose focus on developing additional strategies for accomplishing our mission: making Oregon and the nation a place where everyone has a fair shot at a decent life through the leadership of Democrats.
As we make our way forward, let us pledge to listen carefully and seek to be persuasive, not accusative, to one another. Our work has never been more important and our dependence on each other is irreplaceable. I look forward to seeing many of you in two weeks for our 4th quarter SCC meeting.
As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.
Thank you for all you do.
State Party Chair
Valdez Bravo, first vice chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon, gave a great presentation Thursday at our monthly Linn Dems meeting. After the meeting, Valdez and a few Linn Dems stopped at Elmer's. From left are Valdez, Jeannie Hiebbert, Graham Kislingbury and Steven Hiebert. It was the first Linn Dems meeting for the Hiebberts, who live in Lebanon.
Valdez Bravo, first vice chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon, will be the guest speaker Thursday, Nov. 2, at the monthly general meeting of the Linn County Democrats.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Albany Public Library, 2450 14th Ave. S.E. A social time starts at 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
Bravo is expected to talk about campaign finance reform, Ballot Measure 101 and his takeaways from the Democratic National Committee Fall Meeting, held Oct. 18-21 in Las Vegas. He’ll also field questions from the audience.
“I mostly look forward to hearing what’s on the minds of Linn County Democrats,” he said.
Bravo, 40, a native Oregonian, has spent his life in public service. After serving eight years in the Army, including a deployment to Afghanistan, he returned home and went to work at the Portland VA Hospital. He continues to work there as a healthcare administrator.
His volunteer efforts have centered on veterans, education, and health care.
A lifelong Democrat, Bravo was elected as the state party’s first vice chair in March. He also serves on the Portland Community College Board of Directors.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Portland State University and a master’s degree in health administration and an MBA from Baylor University.
Bravo lives in Portland with his wife and daughter.
Also on the agenda Nov. 2 will be a discussion and vote on a draft resolution supporting Ballot Measure 101, which will appear on the Jan. 23 mail ballot. Measure 101, if approved, would affirm the Healthcare Protections Bill passed by the Oregon Legislature earlier this year.
Bravo said he supports Measure 101. “Anything we can do to fund health care we have to do, he said. “Health care is a human right.”
For more information, contact Linn Dems Co-Chair Graham Kislingbury, 541-974-2075.
Crazed Weasel – Linn Dems Judy Arter and Loren Ford – will perform during another bad-moon-rising-esque Halloween party at the Downtown Dog, Friday, October 27, 6-8 pm, Grant and Main, Lebanon.
Songs about ghosts, murder, monsters, and disasters. Plus old favorites like Monster Mash, Purple People Eater, Long Black Veil, and Love Potion #9. (They'll bring song sheets so folks can sing/read along.)
Costumes are encouraged. (Judy and Loren will bring a variety of extra hats and masks to help out those who are costumely-challenged.) They'll also have costume prizes. They might also have a supply of aluminum foil for those all-important alien mind control deflector helmets.
So grab your masks and join Crazed Weasel at the Dog.
Linn Dems Genny Lynch, Wendy Nilsen and Janet Quinn pose Sunday afternoon on Short Bridge in Cascadia. Janet, our Precinct 20 (Cascadia area) PCP, organized a two-hour gathering at adjacent Short Bridge Park. Despite the light turnout, everyone had fun, with good conversation and snacks, along with an abundance of brilliant foliage. And no rain! Thank you, Janet!
The three-day Oregon Summit starts today (Friday, Oct. 20) and the Democratic Party of Oregon will be livestreaming every event!
Click here to sign-up and receive instructions on how to access our interactive Summit Livestream.
From engaging workshops to inspiring speakers, there will be plenty of exciting content to take in. Be sure to tune in for our Keynote Speaker Congressman Ted Lieu on Saturday night!
Click here to see a full schedule of events and be sure to sign-up for the livestream!
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