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Friday, March 17, 2006

Continuing Hullabaloo: State Dem Platform Process

More on the controversy about the State Democratic Party's platform process at New Mexico Matters, and followed up at Live From Silver City here (Part I) and  here (Part II). Wedges, wedges!

Meanwhile, the release of the NM Party's proposed platform for 2006 has prompted criticism about its mushiness and avoidance of controversy. Clearly the 2006 platform mimics the one produced in 1996, in both content and format. You might think many issues and positions would have changed significantly in ten years' time, but you'd be mistaken. Virtually eliminated from the platform were a significant number of specific positions passed by large margins in the form of dozens of resolutions approved by County Parties and the State Central Committee over the past year or so. The proposed DPNM platform will be voted on at the State Pre-Primary Convention this Saturday. Normally, the platform passes without much discussion, but this year may well be different with many Dems up at arms about the Party's lack of backbone on major issues.

The Process that Produced the Platform: A motion was duly passed at the November SCC meeting directing the Party to hold platform hearings in each congressional district, as the Party bylaws require, and a day-long platform meeting the day before the Spring SCC meeting. The motion was aimed at involving as many Dems as possible in the process and providing opportunities for those charged with writing the platform to hear what rank and file Democrats believe on the issues.

Unfortunately, the result instead was a truncated process that produced mostly bland platitudes. I guess it's not surprising considering the platform was produced by only a handful of committee members and others at a meeting in Albuquerque on the same day as the Taos County convention. Moreover, although Party officials termed the meeting "statewide," I heard about it only because a committee member shared their email with me. Not exactly what the SCC-passed motion required.

Could it be that the weak platform process is really designed to be that way -- to keep the street urchins of the Party quiet while "moderates" decide on positions based mostly on the lastest polling results?

Take two examples. By overwhelming margins, a significant number of County Parties passed very similar resolutions on the Iraq War and a strong resolution on this passed almost unanimously at the State Resolutions Committee and before the SCC:

Resolution: Support our troops. Oppose the continued military occupation of Iraq, and urge the government of the United States of America to plan immediately for the withdrawal of its military forces from Iraq, specify a target date for the completion of the withdrawal which is no later than June 2006, initiate the withdrawal process as soon as possible to signal our good intentions and announce that the U.S. has no plans for a long-term presence in Iraq, except for that associated with normal diplomatic relations between countries.

Yet, the 2006 platform states only:

Platform: We support the strategic redeployment of troops from Iraq, in 2006, if possible. We believe that this country should use more diplomacy, as a deterrent to future wars.

Regarding civil rights for GLBT citizens, the 2006 platform says only

Platform: The Democratic Party recognizes that families and communities come in all shapes and sizes. We believe that government should not dictate family values, but rather value all families equally.

All discrimination must be eliminated in housing, employment and public services; including discrimination based on race, religion, mental and physical disability, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

However, both the State Resolutions Committee and the SCC passed resolutions with this language:

Resolution: Oppose any definition of civil marriage that restricts eligibility based on sexual orientation. Also the State Democratic Party will work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and support the right of all citizens to civil marriage.

Resolution: Support the rights of all citizens to be treated equally under the law by supporting legislation which guarantees every citizen equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference and by supporting legislation which outlaws discrimination against persons on the basis of their sexual preference.

What happened between the passage of these resolutions and the writing of the platform? Imposed mushiness from those apparently so scared of the neo-con and Christian right that they prefer weasling over clarity and specificity. Haven't you heard? If the Party stands up for equal rights for ALL citizens and for bringing the troops home, the right-wing noise machine will kick into high gear and label the Dems "extremists." Sorry, but the voters already know the Dem Party is full of people strong on civil rights and against this war.

What will voters learn from watered down platform planks? That Dems don't believe strongly enough in their values to take an honest, principled stand. Our fear and gutlessness will be out there for all to see. Since we're already called "extremists," why not take the strong stands we believe in and fight for our values? Why not persuade, educate and lead on the issues? What do we have to lose?

If we can't have our candidates run on a strong, passionate and courageous platform now, with BushCo's approval ratings hovering in the low 30s and a majority of the public against the war, when can we do it? As has been said at virtually every Dem gathering I've attended, and on millions of places all over the web, we need more passionate patriots and fewer meek apologists. And we need them NOW. Let's beef up the platform and run on what's right, not what's status quo.

March 17, 2006 at 10:34 AM in Democratic Party | Permalink

Comments

I hope this platform gets strengthened. We need a hard-hitting platform that advocates strongly for all our issues, and that does it fearlessly.

Posted by: Silver City Jan | Mar 17, 2006 11:47:01 AM

Is it possible to get a petition drive going, such that registered Democratic signers declare No Confidence in the party's platform and pledge not to vote for anyone who runs on said platform? This is outrageous - but not surprising.

Posted by: John McAndrew | Mar 17, 2006 12:29:55 PM

Anything is possible if we use our creativity, and are prepared to assert ourselves.

Posted by: Old Dem | Mar 17, 2006 8:11:22 PM

I got a request for a contribution this week from the state dems and tossed it in the can. They don't deserve it.

Posted by: suz | Mar 17, 2006 8:35:55 PM

It is pathetic, the platform they are proposing disregards the issues we should be standing for. If we don't fight for the wedge issues then what is the point?
There are thirty approved resolutions from around the state that didn't even make it into the platform. Many of the the resolutions that are being proposed have watered down language.
One question--why are we so afraid to offend the Republicans?
One last thought about the platform that is being presented tomorrow--are we trying to adopt a Republican agenda?

Posted by: Mandala | Mar 17, 2006 8:52:03 PM

I am so tired of timid Democrats! 2006 is ours for the taking if we don't wimp out. Senator Bingaman seems te be wimping out regarding the censure measure by Senator Feingold. Maybe we need a Ned Lamont here to get his attention. Our reps need to grow some cajones,strenthen their spine and go for the gusto. And listen to the people instead of their stupid "consultants" Russ for pres.

Posted by: Larry Huff | Mar 17, 2006 9:02:55 PM

Larry Huff: Your comment is correct. That is why I left the Party. No Cajones and Party Control by Richardson whom I consider to be corrupt. Larry, Thanks for telling it like it is. Eli Chavez, Independent

Posted by: Eli Chavez, Albuquerque, New Mexico | Mar 18, 2006 6:59:34 AM

Leaving the Party does no good. Taking over the Party is a must. Takes work.

Posted by: JLC | Mar 18, 2006 7:44:31 AM

How can we ever change minds if we never fight for what is right?

Posted by: Enviro | Mar 18, 2006 8:39:20 AM

JLC: The Irrelevant Democrats have been trying to take over the party since Richardson became Governor and have failed. As an Independent, I can speakout about Richardson's Control of the Party and his cronyism and corruption without fear of being overruled by Richardson's few that control the Party and Platform. I ask who are the Democrats that are trying to take over the Party from within? In 2004, the "Irrelevant" Democrats worked hard for change within the Party and the "Regulars" were told Richardson whom to vote for... In my opinion, the only way to take over the Party immediately is to do it from the outside by exposing the Controlling Factors and encouranging the Democratic Party Membership (Irrelevants) to take over the Party campaign operations. The New Mexico Democratic Party remains a party organizing is members for the interests of a few (Richardson); not a party of People and it membership organizing for the interests of the many. The Democratic Party continues to move towards the Right because of Big Money and its none support of true issues that confront New Mexicans NOW. Where were the Democrats in Congress when Sen. Feingold proposed a Censor on Bush? Where were the Democrats in Congress during the Alito Nomination? Eli Chavez, Independent

Posted by: Eli Chavez, Albuquerque, New Mexico | Mar 18, 2006 9:18:51 AM

I don't agree with you. If we let the slugs hold the offices of ward and precinct chairs, SCC members and delegates, we are to blame. The only way to push this party in the right direction is to get rid of the dead weight. The party is loaded with dead weight and has been for years. By sitting back people allow these people to own the Party. It is our party and we have to get it back.

Posted by: JLC | Mar 18, 2006 11:57:39 AM