On June 3rd, we will all gather in Worcester to vote on the platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. The current draft already contains a lot of progressive language on a host of issues, and we owe the Platform Committee a debt of gratitude for their hard work and care. They listened to the concerns of Progressives at hearing after hearing across the Commonwealth. But there is still work to be done.
Our Revolution MA (ORMA) was founded with the intertwined goals of:
Revitalizing American democracy
Empowering progressive leaders
Elevating the political consciousness
And so we have set out an extremely ambitious agenda for the convention: Eight Platform amendments, numerous resolutions, and two amendments to the party charter. Well-meaning insiders told us to slow down, to set aside the more far-reaching language, and to bide our time with a slower process of seeking change.
But let us not forget that the White House is occupied by a man who opposes almost every policy Massachusetts Democrats stand behind; that his party controls Congress and will support his reactionary and backwards agenda; and that a Republican sits in the Corner Office on Beacon Hill.
We do not have the luxury of waiting to act. ORMA is taking bold action to push the conversation forward. By doing so we will ensure the party is in a better position to defeat Governor Baker next year, capitalize on the Democratic supermajorities in both houses and set this state on a path to firmly opposing the Trump/Ryan agenda and threats to our values.
Below and at our website you will find more details on our proposed changes. We hope you will support them, and invite you to attend two events at the convention to learn more and sign petitions to get these items up for a vote:
Friday June 2nd, 7PM: Our Revolution Party at the Hilton Garden Hotel (35 Major Taylor Blvd, Worcester)
Saturday June 3rd, 8AM: Our Revolution Unity Breakfast in the Junior Ballroom of the DCU Center
Read all our full amendments here, or read four key summaries below.
Massachusetts Democrats have put together platforms in the past with great progressive ideals in them, like single-payer or immigrant protections in 2013; yet the Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the state house were unable or unwilling to pass these reforms over the past 4 years. We can do better.
If we want this quadrennial platform convention to be something more than a big party--to actually mean something concrete for politics in this state--we ought to demand that the party pay attention to which of our candidates actually support policies in the platform.
This amendment would have the State Committee send out a questionnaire to all Democratic candidates for office in the state to determine how much they agree with the platform we Democrats have agreed upon, and to use that information to prioritize our Party’s support for those Democrats who support a majority of our platform positions.
We aren’t demanding unthinking loyalty from our elected representatives, but rather asking the state Party to ensure that our limited resources go first to supporting those Democrats who support most of the platform. No one will be kicked out of the party, but those elected representatives who cannot support most of our party platform shouldn’t expect us to prioritize their re-election
Our Revolution Massachusetts (ORMA) condemns all distinctions between human beings that are used to unjustly or inequitably divide us. ORMA specifically condemns sexism, classism, racism, ageism, ableism, heterosexism, homophobia, racist policing, mass incarceration, the racist aspects of Islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment, the connection between war and racism, and the many other ways that racism manifests in social, economic, and political life today.
Accordingly, we have partnered with activists from Black Lives Matter and Indivisible to put together a combined amendment to the Public Safety Plank which emphasizes a need to confront directly the use of excessive and/or lethal force by police, and to ensure police are thorough trained in de-escalation tactics and how to combat implicit bias. ORMA is proud to advance language which calls for an end to For-Profit Prisons and and long-term strategy which reallocates money from policing and prisons to local restorative justice services, employment programs and education.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party Charter (LINK) defines how the party is structured and how it operates. Anything not defined in that document is left to the Democratic State Committee to determine.
The Charter specifies that it can be amended by a majority vote of delegates to any Convention, but doesn’t define the process. This year, the rules were changed to increase the required number of signatures by 60%, up to 500 delegate signatures(from 300) and because this convention was expected to have far fewer delegates than the previous convention, this translates into a significant increase in the percentage of total delegates required to bring an amendment to the floor.
We believe the requirement to collect an arbitrarily large number of signatures from delegates by an early hour (10AM, when the convention roll call is just beginning) creates an unacceptably high barrier to consideration of amendments.
We seek to set the required number of signatures to 5% of the total elected delegate count so that there is consistency year to year. If someone can find 5% of delegates to support their proposal, they should be given the chance (just 5 minutes!) to make a case before the convention and get an up or down vote. There is still a very high bar to passage, so we are confident that only well thought out and carefully crafted amendments will be passed by future Conventions.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party is governed at the highest level by the Democratic State Committee. Currently, this committee contains 418 members, including only 80 members elected every 4 years on the Presidential primary ballot and 80 members elected via the conference system.
To call ourselves a "Democratic" party, we ought to ensure that our leadership is elected democratically, as far as is possible. It is unacceptable that only 38% (160/418) of the current State committee is directly elected by Massachusetts Democrats. This amendment would move to partially remedy this issue and would increase the percentage of elected Committee members to nearly 50% (240 of 498). We are purposefully moving slow here on the advice of party insiders that expanding the committee will create stress for the leadership. Our initial plan was to ask for more seats, but we reduced that number in an effort to be collaborative.
Furthermore, it gives the State party 6 months to set up a process open to all Democrats to elect these new positions, one man and one woman for each state senate district. There is a cost to holding caucuses, but there is also a cost to failing to act to remedy this democratic deficit on the state committee.
Current State Committee members on the “Charter Amendment Committee” opposed this proposal on May 10th for the reason that the State Committee is already too large, and that there is a perceived lack of challengers who want to get added to the State Committee. We disagree with both these arguments:
Although it is true that the MA State Committee is one of the largest State Committees on paper, there are many meetings where only about half of the members show up. For example, during the special election of a new DNC member early this year, there were fewer than 220 voting members in attendance out of 418 DSC members.
Second, it’s true that many of these State Committee seats aren’t contested, but that doesn’t indicate a lack of interest; rather, it points to confusion on the part of the average Democrat as to what the DSC is, how they might qualify for ballot access during Presidential primaries, or how they might navigate the the byzantine “Conference / Caucus system”. We might shake our fingers at newly engaged Democrats and ask them where they’ve been and blame them for not knowing, but a party that reaches out and makes it easy for people to get involved is a party that will be stronger and win more elections in MA.
At a time when so many Democrats are energized and mobilized to oppose the regressive Trump/Baker agenda, it's time for us to UNITE and bring that energy into the Democratic State Committee, even if it makes our meetings a tad more crowded. We seek this amendment out of a deep-seated desire to make the party stronger and promote unity.