Monday, July 21, 2008

Step it Up for People-Powered Politics

From April 10th, 2008

Recently fellow blogger Eddie in ME alerted me to a situation in Maine in which Rita Moran, the Kennebec County Democratic Committee chair, got kicked out of her elected position as DNC Women by establishment trickery.

Here in the netroots we pride our selfs in being part of the people-powered politics movement but this is the time when we need to step it up and take action on behalf of people-powered politics! In this essay I'll try to give a brief of what happened and how we can take action!

What happened:

In November, Jennifer DeChant who was a DNC Women (kind of like the board of directors for the DNC), missed her third consecutive meeting of the Democratic State Committee. According to state party rules, the position was vacated and she had to run for reelection. So progressive activists drafted Rita to run as a people-powered canidate. She accepted and won the position. One of those activists and a fellow blogger Eddie in ME wrote a great blog about that story.

However the establishment didn't like that a grassroots reformer had won. So as soon as she had won they started trying to oust her. They did this based on saying inadequate notice was given (it was stated at the November meeting, and in the agenda). The real reason that they didn't want Rita as DNC Women is that she is a grassroots reformer. But there is no rule against that so the establishment had to find other ways to kick Rita out. Here is a basic overview of what they did.

- Stan Gerzofsky, State Rep. from Brunswick sent a letter to John Knutson, State Party Chair, complaining that the notice of the DNC election was not adequate. Stan requested a repeal of the election. (He did so on legislative letterhead- a big no-no.) - John did not report the results of Rita's election to the DNC. Had he, a repeal would not have been permitted under Robert's Rules of Order. The DNC had listed Rita as the DNC Woman, then reversed course upon request from Arden Manning, the Executive Director of the MDP and resisted Jennifer DeChant (the former DNC women who lost the election). No matter what, this was incorrect-either Rita was the DNC Woman, or if not her, the position was vacant as of January.

-The State Rules Committee stated that a repeal was permitted under the rules since Rita was not seated as DNC Woman. However, the election would have had to have been illegal or illegitimate (they determined it was not), or irreparable personal damage would have been done to Jennifer DeChant. In addition, it was stated that the injured party would be expected to define "adequate notice" (they did not).

-At the March meeting of the State Central Committee, a vote was held to repeal the January DNC Election. The repeal passed by about five or six votes. A new election was held immediately, and Jennifer DeChant was reelected to her post on the DNC.

At this point there is nothing that can be done about that. The election was immediately reported to the DNC (funny how that happens only when a insider favored canidate wins). However there are two ways that we can still help. Rita is running for a four year term as DNC Women at the State Convention and needs our help to win. That will not make her a delegate to the national convention this year but there is a add-on delegate slot open.

Step it up: How to take action for people-power politics:

We need to step it up for people-powered politics now. We need to stand with Rita. But how? How can we help Rita get the add-on delegate slot and send a grassroots delegate to Denver? Easy.

Add-on Delegate:
There is a open slot for add-on delegate to the national convention in Denver. John Knutson, the state party chair, can right this wrong by appointing Rita to the slot. There are two ways to urge him to take this step. One is calling the Maine Democratic Party office at (207) 622-6233 and the other is e-mailing him at chair (AT) mainedems (DOT) org. John isn't a bad guy so be polite. Say that you think the procedure that ousted Rita was unfair and you believe she would be a excellent canidate for the add-on delegate position. Don't be nasty, just state positive reasons why you think Rita should be chosen. Here are a few suggestions of things to talk about if you call or e-mail.

-Who you are, where your from.
-That they've been following the
-That Rita's a great volunteer, and a great activist, who has
done great things for her county, and that hard work deserves rewards.
-That it's important that we heal the rift in the party around the
country, and this would be a step toward doing it in Maine.
-That we
need more outsiders and Progressives at the convention.
-Anything else you can think of!

Rita for DNC:

Also, Rita is running for a new four-year term as DNC Woman at the state convention. This will NOT make her a superdelegate for 2008, but 2012. She is one of the leaders in the grassroots of the Maine Democratic Party but she needs our help. She has lots of energy behind her campaign but she needs some resources to run a campaign. She will need between $3k-5k, to run a campaign. This covers everything- signs, buttons, stickers, phone calls, the list of delegates and alternates, mailing to each of them, everything.

Two candidates are running against Rita thus far. One is Maggie Allen, the former Executive Director of the MDP. She was in charge when Pat Colwell, the state party chair who resigned in disgrace following a major scandal, was running the show. The other is Betty Johnson, the party treasurer in the same era. It's old guard scandal versus new blood.

But can Rita win? YES. This is a state that Obama won 60-40, and she advocates for his brand of politics- grassroots driven, bottom up. She wants to represent the people, not the money. If the Obama and grassroots delegates coalesce around her as their choice, she will win handily.

The real question that we should ask before we support her though is why. Why is Rita running for DNC? I'll let her speak for herself.

I am running for the Democratic National Committee because I think that you, ordinary Maine Democrats like me, deserve a national voice.

I believe that, after this election is over and we have a Democrat in the White House, this party needs to take a long, hard look at itself. We need to decide what works, and what does not.

Just as presidential candidates are calling for change, and rightly so, we Democrats need to decide what needs to change in our own party as well. We were founded by people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison because they believed that a party which represented ordinary people was needed if our American democracy were to survive and prosper.

Friends, I believe that we need a course correction, we need to get back to our ideals, stop this superdelegate nonsense, and make every Democrat count, and count equally. I will try to make that happen. Remember, the political insiders got to where they are because of people like us, making phone calls, donating to campaigns, and getting out the vote.

If I'm elected to the DNC, and it will not possible without your help, I hope to be your voice, your clear strong voice, on the national stage.

Thanks for listening.

Rita Moran

That sounds like the kind of person we need on the DNC. But she needs our help. Time to Step it Up for People-Powerd Politics and Donate to Rita for DNC!

I've talked to Eddie and he will be in the comments answering any questions about the situation. If we want a change in the nation and in our party we have to take it back. We must step it up for people-powered politics.

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