Today the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee will meet to elect delegates to the Democratic National Convention. I’m a delegate to the State Central Committee from CD12. We’re not actually electing anyone. We’re just performing the voting ritual. The DNC, the Biden and Sanders campaigns, and the MDP have already made the choices for us, they’re just holding the “election” to make it look like democracy, when it is effectively a dictatorship.

Last month I wrote about Nicole Reid being taken off the ballot against the rules. There’s a rule in the Delegate Selection Plan that requires the campaigns to select, from those who apply, at least three candidates for each national delegate position available – to ensure the people get a choice. In Reid’s case, they violated that rule to kick her off the ballot – there was one female delegate position available in her district, and they only had three people apply including Reid. They broke that rule to kick Reid off the ballot. Late yesterday the MDP sent out an email changing exactly those rules in the Delegate Selection Plan, without any vote on the rules change.

The Delegate Selection Plan was a long time in development, and was put out to MDP membership for review, and voted on with great solemnity by the State Central Committee – yet when the DNC found it inconvenient, they simply ordered it changed, and the MDP went along with it. The DNC and the MDP on the one hand claim to be democratic organizations, and on the other hand break the rules whenever they want to, or just change them without warning or proper process if they turn out to be inconvenient. They don’t respect the rules at all, and they disrespect the members of the Party.

What value does our work have – reviewing the Delegate Selection Plan, a fifty page document, for example – if they’re just going to ignore it or change it whenever it’s inconvenient? I personally spent a lot of time reviewing the DSP to make sure it was fair, transparent, inclusive, and democratic. There were problems with it. For example, it allows the campaigns to strike people from the ballot. That means the campaigns are selecting the delegates, not the people. In a democracy, representatives represent the people who elect them, not anyone else. The campaigns have no business striking anyone from any ballot, preventing the people from having a free choice among those volunteering to serve. The campaigns aren’t voting for or electing anyone. Having the campaigns decide who gets on the ballot is following the maxim of Boss Tweed, the famously corrupt Democrat:

I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating

William “Boss” Tweed

The DNC, the Biden and Sanders campaigns, and the MDP are all following Tweed’s lead. Let’s just re-cap. The MDP put out the Delegate Selection Plan to be reviewed by the membership, they gave us several weeks or maybe a bit more. It next was brought before the State Central Committee and voted on. Then it was violated by the Sanders campaign in the case of Ms. Reid, no consequences. Now, the rule that ensures voters have a choice of candidates is eliminated by dictate, not a vote, or even a discussion about it. Boss Tweed is famous for another saying:

The way to have power is to take it.

William “Boss” Tweed

This is exactly what the DNC, the MDP, and the campaigns are doing. Taking power with impunity, ignoring the rules, and when people – like Reid – point out violations of the rules, rather than correcting the violation, they change the rules – without going through a proper rules changing process. In this case, to make our votes entirely irrelevant. There’s only one choice on the ballot. They decision has already been made. They’re calling us to come out and take a vote after they’ve already ensured we have no choices.

They’re treating the State Central Committee of an important swing state party like a cargo cult of democracy. We’re performing rituals to support their power, not electing delegates to represent us, not doing the actual work of democracy, just mouthing formulas, and performing what might as well be mystical rituals. Rituals are designed to instill awe and reverence in the people, the pomp and pageantry of rituals are intended to make people feel like they’re doing something important, when in fact they’re doing nothing at all except lending legitimacy to the ritual itself, and thus to the pre-determined result.

Cargo cults are characterized by rituals that take the proper forms for the operations of a landing strip or other installation, without there actually being any airplanes or pilots or crews or any organization sending them. They build sets and perform ritual movements on them, but no cargo ever comes. A cargo cult of democracy has ritual meetings and the voting is a sacrament, but no actual influence over outcomes of votes – they’re just rituals with no democratic content. Like the grass planes cargo cults build never have any cargo, they’re just empty wishes and hollow promises that bring a sense of community, but never any power over important decisions.

The Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee should not stand for this insult to the Committee or to democracy. The committee should refuse to be used as a prop in ritual, and demand to have legitimate democratic choices to be made by an actual election, not this mystical ritual with no purpose other than to legitimize their rule-breaking.

State Central Committee member who agrees, please leave your comments below – we’ll try to read them into the record of the committee at the next meeting.

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