It Takes A Village – VNV Tuesday: Deep into the Unity Weeds 4/25/17

Whether we’ve liked it or not, unity has become the Democratic buzzword of late.  The tour with DNC Chair Tom Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders has created waves on Twitter and in the press; the dismay, disarray, and disgust that have resulted are an unfortunate by-product of tone-deaf politicking. It occurred to me in the midst of my anger of the past week that I wanted to know more about where this emphasis on “unity” originated.  I did a deep dive into the background and what I found is both encouraging and cause for concern.  I am the first to recognize that this topic is a bit esoteric and wonky when resistance to the Republicans has to be our primary focus.  But I also hope that it will provide some helpful information about directions the Democratic Party is considering for itself.

Unity Reform Commission
At the July 2016 DNC convention, a proposal was made to the Rules Committee that a Unity Reform Commission be established. This proposal was sponsored by Wellington Webb, former mayor of Denver, and Michaeleen Crowell, Sen. Sanders’ Chief of Staff (and interestingly, a former staffer for Rep. John Lewis). The full text of the resolution can be found here, (http://s3.amazonaws.com/uploads.democrats.org/Downloads/Unity_Reform_Commission_Resolution.pdf), but the blockquotes below cover most of it:

…it shall consist of 21 members including a chair and vice-chair, all with the right to vote on Commission business. The chair shall be Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and the vice-chair Larry Cohen. Secretary Clinton shall appoint nine members of the Commission and Senator Sanders shall appoint seven members of the Commission. The remaining three members shall be appointed by the National Chair of the DNC. To the extent possible, its membership shall be equally divided between men and women and shall be geographically and demographically diverse.

Unity Reform Commission shall consider and make appropriate recommendations regarding revisions to the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2020 Democratic National Convention with respect to the manner of voting used during the presidential nominating process with a goal of increasing voter participation and inclusion through grassroots engagement of the Party’s voter base during and in-between presidential election cycles.

The Commission shall make recommendations to encourage the expanded use of primary elections.

…shall make specific recommendations regarding the steps necessary to ensure that, in states where caucuses are conducted, eligible voters’ ability to participate in the caucuses are protected. The Commission shall make recommendations as to how caucuses can be less burdensome and more inclusive, transparent and accessible to participants. Specific consideration shall be given to so-called firehouse caucuses and other methods that will permit expanded and higher volumes of voter participation. These steps shall include ensuring caucuses are well-run, accessible, transparent and that the delegates allocated to the national convention fairly reflect the will of the voters expressed during the caucuses. The Commission shall make specific recommendations to streamline the caucus realignment process, including measures to accommodate increased voter participation and decrease the time necessary to conduct the caucus. The Commission shall make specific recommendations that requires caucuses to publish the specific headcount at all caucus locations…

…the Unity Reform Commission shall make recommendations to encourage the involvement in all elections of unaffiliated or new voters who seek to join the Democratic Party including through same-day registration and re-registration.

…shall consider and make appropriate recommendations for revisions to the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2020 Democratic National Convention to provide for a change in the manner by which unpledged party leader and elected official (PLEO) delegates participate in the presidential nominating process. In particular, the Commission shall make specific recommendations providing that Members of Congress, Governors and distinguished party leaders (DNC Charter Art. Two, Section 4(h)(ii)(1)-(6)) remain unpledged and free to support their nominee of choice, but that remaining unpledged delegates be required to cast their vote at the Convention for candidates in proportion to the vote received for each candidate in their state.

… shall consider and make appropriate recommendations as to: (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.

To me, this looks like a laundry list of Berniecrat grievances, real or perceived. However, as a pragmatist, I’m not opposed to having the conversations within the Party, and it’s possible that some useful and helpful recommendations could result. The key, of course, may be who serves on the commission, and that too is a good news/bad news situation.

Unity Reform Commission members (Sanders picks in bold. The remaining picks are those of Sec. Clinton and Chairman Perez, but the breakdown was not made public.):
1. Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Chair, District of Columbia; partner, Precision Strategies
2. Larry Cohen, Vice Chair, District of Columbia; chair of Our Revolution and former president of the Communication Workers of America
3. Charlie Baker, Massachusetts; president of Dewey Square Group and former chief administrative officer of the Clinton campaign
4. Jan Bauer, Iowa; Iowa Democratic National Committeewoman and Clinton supporter
5. Jeff Berman, District of Columbia, former Clinton campaign consultant
6. Lucy Flores, California, former Nevada Assemblywoman and Sanders supporter
7. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Clinton supporter
8. Maya Harris, New York, former senior policy adviser, Clinton campaign
9. David Huynh, Louisiana; former Clinton campaign director of delegate operations and ballot access
10. Elaine Kamarck, Massachusetts; senior fellow, Brookings Institution
11. Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair; Sanders supporter and Our Revolution board member
12. Nomiki Konst, New York; investigative reporter for the Young Turks and former Sanders convention delegate
13. Yvette Lewis, Maryland Democratic National Committeewoman and Clinton supporter
14. Gus Newport, California; former mayor of Berkeley, California and Sanders supporter
15. Jorge Neri, Illinois; former Clinton campaign Nevada state director
16. James Roosevelt, Jr., Massachusetts; president of Tufts Health Plan and co-chair of the Democratic national convention Rules and Bylaws Committee
17. Emmy Ruiz, Texas; former Clinton campaign Colorado state director
18. Former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, Sanders convention delegate and Our Revolution board member
19. Jeff Weaver, Virginia; former Sanders campaign chair
20. Wellington Webb, Colorado; former Denver mayor and Clinton supporter
21. Jim Zogby, District of Columbia; founder of the Arab American Institute and Sanders supporter

The list above comes from this article, DNC Announces Members of Unity Reform Commission. The article itself makes clear what the list alone may not: if the Clinton and/or Perez picks represent the “Establishment” of the Party, the Sanders’ picks represent the furtherance of his agenda, vision, and grievances of 2016. That in and of itself is not surprising; the fact that some of his picks are effectively flamethrowers par excellence (cough Nomiki Konst) is also not surprising, but worrisome. I, for one, am glad I’m not sitting on this commission, but I do have a strong interest in its proposals. Because of that, I have subscribed here for updates, and I urge you to consider doing the same: https://my.democrats.org/page/signup/unity-reform-commission

I hope this is of interest to some of you; if not, obligatory cute pups Basset hounds (I’ll leave the kitties for Momentary Grace!)…

  19 comments for “It Takes A Village – VNV Tuesday: Deep into the Unity Weeds 4/25/17

  1. April 25, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for this excellent post, DoReMI. You’ve done a lot of research.

    Y’know, the first thing I think when I realize someone is a Sanders supporter, is “Why?” What has he ever done besides talk? And what has he ever talked about except massive resistance against Wall Street?

    Last week there were a great many discussions of how Da Boyz could bloody well do their own party work if they’re going to compromise on the rights of The Girlz.

    I’m so pissed off that I might give only to women candidates from now on, although for the time being I won’t be giving to anyone. You should see my VISA bill. Sniff.

  2. April 25, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Basset hounds have the same long soft floppy ears as beagles. I love them. I bet my beagle has some basset in him, because his legs are short.

    • DoReMI
      April 25, 2017 at 10:52 am

      I’ve always thought of beagles as the high-energy version of Bassets. We had a faux-Basset at one point who almost certainly was part beagle, judging by his long legs. He was also the only “Basset” we had that understood the concept of fetch. Every other Basset we’ve had would willingly and eagerly chase the ball, but then stare at it in confusion when they caught up with it. Fred, at least, understood to bring the ball back to us.

  3. basket
    April 25, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Good morning DoReMI and all Village meeses!! I came for the unity and stayed for the adorable Basset hounds!!!

    I’m kind of sceptical about what proposals this unity commission can effectively offer when it seems to be so much focused on one particular candidate’s grievances. Plus the behavior of Nomiki Konst on Twitter.

    Can I make a Unity Proposal? Let Bernie have his People’s Summit third party thingy in exchange for us getting our Democratic Party back?

    • DoReMI
      April 25, 2017 at 10:12 am

      I tend to agree, although I think there’s some room for rethinking the superdelegates and their role. I would never want to see them eliminated (they are our firewall against a lefty version of T***p), but I can see the point that public endorsements prior to the end of primary voting is not necessarily helpful. Private commitments to a candidate don’t bother me, but I suppose there is always the risk that they would become public. I do question, though, if this means an elected official who is also a superdelegate, would be restricted from campaigning with a candidate during the primary season. That seems short-sighted, as it is also a means of highlighting local races and candidates. At any rate, expect another big kerfuffle when the commission makes their recommendations to the DNC as a whole. Flamethrowers will be throwing flames if they don’t get everything they want; “Establishment” Dems will be trying to tamp out the flames…and women will quietly continue to do the real work.

      • basket
        April 25, 2017 at 10:28 am

        Would you happen to know when their report is due? I will try to stay low on Twitter that day, except to chit-chat.

        And I hope you are doing well today! I was woken up by the sun and I don’t really want to be up this early. :P

        • DoReMI
          April 25, 2017 at 10:35 am

          Per the original resolution: “…Unity Reform Commission shall issue its report and recommendations to the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC no later than January 1, 2018.” Whoops…I was wrong; the report won’t go to the entire DNC, it will go to Rules first. This link has more information about the committee membership as of 2016; I haven’t been able to confirm that the membership is unchanged: https://ballotpedia.org/DNC_Rules_Committee,_2016

    • bfitzinAR
      April 25, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      {{{basket}}} – I like your unity proposal and would vote for it in a NY minute. moar {{{HUGS}}}

  4. WYgalinCali
    April 25, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Good morning, Pond Dwellers! Thanks for the diary, DoReMi. I, personally, think that former Campaign staff is one thing but active Revolution board members should not be allowed. They are, for all intents and purposes, supporting the hostile takeover of the Democratic Party. I hope that this Unity Tour comes to a close soon and never returns for an encore.

    Love the Bassett pics. 49 right now in Sac Town with an expected high of 71. A perfect day to walk the puppies at the SPCA.

    • DoReMI
      April 25, 2017 at 11:22 am

      It looks like there’s plenty of so-called conflict of interest to go around; some of Hillary’s picks are superdelegates, so it could be argued that they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. With the exception of Konst, I don’t have a big issue with any of the picks. I’ve taken an intense dislike to Konst because of her Twitter persona, so I can only hope that she’s not as much of a jerk in person. I’d love to be a fly on the wall for their meetings, but I would never, ever want to be on that commission. It’s likely to be a thankless task.

  5. MomentaryGrace
    April 25, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you DoReMI. This is very interesting information. I don’t know enough about politics or the party to have any kind of educated reaction but my gut is not happy. I will tell it to shut up and wait to see.

    I don’t like the whole “revolution” rhetoric and I never did. The Tea Party were using revolution imagery as well.

    I have zero actual basis or evidence but the flaming conspiracy theorist in me traces light threads from Putin to Stein and to Bernie as well.

    I hope there is enough strength in the center to hold.

    And… yay bassetts!


    here is a bassett who likes cats….
    • basket
      April 25, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      {{{{MomentaryGrace}}}

      • MomentaryGrace
        April 25, 2017 at 2:06 pm

        {{{{{basket!}}}}}
    • DoReMI
      April 25, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      My gut is where yours is but for a different reason. I see this as a lose-lose situation for the party. The purists won’t be happy if there is any compromise, and the pragmatists, who were effectively backed into this by the ongoing primary wars, will be forced into a defensive position. In 2018. Almost two full years after the primaries ended. In a critical election year. Yeah, that’s helpful…

      • MomentaryGrace
        April 25, 2017 at 4:11 pm

        Well as I tell myself constantly, a lot may happen in a year. Especially this year.

        {{{{DoReMI}}}}}

  6. bfitzinAR
    April 25, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    You know, this unity routine is beginning to look a whole lot like Neville Chamberlain in 1938 – trying to appease despots and authoritarians has never really worked well and it certainly isn’t working well now.

    • VonsterTX
      April 26, 2017 at 6:54 am

      Thanks for both the pups, Bassetts and the post.

      I don’t see it as an either/ or situation. The same thing that happened to the Republican Party happened to the Democratic Party. In trying to be everything to everyone, a faction was allowed to come in with their own agenda and with no respect for, understanding of, or frankly giving a damn about how each was structured, took resources and subverted them to their own. Whenever there is extremism, there is marginalization. On the Right, there was The Tea Party. On the Left, the Progressives. Both attempting to re-litigate the past, without a hard look at the Present. Both strongly adhering to the “We know what is better for all” mindset, where compromise is seen as defeatist.

      This country was founded on compromise. It’s essential for progress.

      Again, thanks!

      • bfitzinAR
        April 26, 2017 at 9:08 pm

        {{{VonsterTX}}} The country was founded on compromise and balance. The Extremes have no truck with either. sigh.

  7. reesetheone
    April 26, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Nice doggies!

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