The Florida Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee has been the subject of much conversation through the years. The committee has fallen into a rut where many members have used positions to create a private fiefdom or personal power. This is especially true of representatives from urban counties. Let’s table rules reform in terms of vote weights and the structure of the State Executive Committee for another time. Instead let’s focus on the actual function of the body.
It is my feeling that if the State Executive Committee were given more to do and empowered in direction of the party, things might transpire differently. Allowing the committee to be involved in decision making and strategic planning might very well result in more communication and buy-in from the grassroots level into the FDP strategy. It also could make DEC meetings more useful as local Democratic Executive Committee’s debate ideas for the state party as a whole at monthly meetings. The State Committeewoman and State Committeeman from each county would then have clear instructions on how to proceed at the next State Executive Committee meeting which should be held bi-monthly instead of quarterly (taking the number of meetings from 4 to 6 a year). For those cannot attend in person, provisions should be made to allow online or phone participation. Additionally, the months without meetings should be filled with some sort of meet up either via conference call or online meeting software.
The committee also needs to be empowered to manage the party. Reports from the Executive Director of the FDP should be given each bi-monthly meeting. Additionally the committee should have a role in scrutinizing party vendors and expenditures by the FDP on the vendors and staff. If not given decision making authority, the State Executive Committee at the very least should be kept informed as to what the party’s staff and vendor costs are and be given reports as to performance-based metrics met by the vendors and staff.
Strengthening the party at this juncture probably involves taking chances and having faith in empowering people willing to serve the Democratic cause. It’s important that power that is currently held in a few unaccountable hands is distributed in a fashion that solicits at least a minimal amount of discussion, debate and scrutiny.
For those claiming empowering the State Executive Committee will create chaos, I would say we’ve done it for years your way and despite favorable demographic shifts, have amassed an electoral record of futility unmatched in the history of this state by Democrats. Whomever is elected Chair of the FDP must advocate for the types of reforms that will empower the State Executive Committee.
We Democrats are the party of the People. The Democratic Party must immediately start acting like we represent the People or you can expect a new People’s Party in 2017.
Staff transparency is important. Nobody knows how much the FDP staff is being paid. The FDP pays “Payroll Matters” to deal with all payroll issues. The exception to this is Dan Newman and Beth Matuga, both of whom made a lot of money this election cycle, double of what they made last election cycle. Anyway, Payroll Matters was paid $586,824.38 by the FDP, so we know that is their budget. But still, where is the money going? It would be nice to know.
If the state exec comm does not run the party then who does? Who is hiring exec director staff, vendors? What purpose does the exec comm serve if they have no authority to change anything. If this is so, what do we need a chair for a powerless. Committe for? What a mess! No wonder our party is such a disaster!
The main reason why people can create fiefdoms is that they don’t actually have to do anything. What should the primary goal of a political party? –> voter contacts. If they would tie inparty-power to the number of verified voter contacts, you’d have a lot fewer problems in that area….
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This is an important start at looking at what’s needed to move the Democratic party toward a bit of democratic practice.
Just a few thoughts along those lines. In my view if we want to stop and reverse the destructive concentration of wealth and political power in order to create democratic space in our politics, a necessary first step for real human rights, stop the financial incentives for the destruction of the human habitability of the earth and stop the financial incentives for perpetual war, we need a broadly inclusive party that provides an effective countervailing force to uncontrolled capitalism and reactionary politics. None exists at this time. The so called Democratic Party would need to create a new political culture within its organization to meet the need. Just doing some usual businesslike management reforms will not do the job.
All evidence is that the Democratic Party is actually a party of politicians with a wide range of values who are, by a large majority, responsive to wealthy funders first. Their priorities are controlled not by a commitment to work in the interest of the vast majority of the people who trade their work for compensation from others, but for those who derive huge fortunes from investments and the people who run corporations in their interest.
Local and state party activists are often, but not always, socially liberal with a progressive commitment to diversity. Most have done well and are comfortable with our present political economic system. They cannot see the need to do the difficult work of organizing for the core changes that would be necessary for democracy, environmental health and peace with security.
I doubt very much that those active in the official Democratic Party organizational structure are representative of even those people who are registered as Democrats. I am thoroughly convinced that no one has ever asked. If you look clearly at the available evidence you would conclude that most activists think little of grass roots Democrats. They are treated like useful idiots.
I periodically say that most moral action the Democratic Party could take would be to give up its name so it might be used by people who believe in the concept. An option, of course, would be to do serious organizational soul searching. To analyze with a purpose. The purpose to become a new party that would listen to and engage citizens in the work needed to create a decent society in which all of the people have a place in decision making.
I do not believe the option will be taken.
The litmus test for all candidates can be summed up by two platforms: environmental rights and human rights.
Regarding environmental rights, where does the candidate stand on the fracking issue? The sabal trail pipine? Solar energy and clean water? Since 75% of voters adopted Amendment Ine in 2014 and 73% said yes to Solar in 2016, clearly these are issues Floridians care for, right or left.
Regarding human rights, where does each candidate stand on fair pay, social security and medicare protections, and medicaid? Or the people over profits agenda or the income wealth gap? Voting rights?
These two platforms should be the basis of the FDP. Somehow, it has lost its appeal.