Full disclosure: I am a founding member of the MISolidarity team.
MISolidarity is a grassroots organization working for democracy and progressive policies at every level of politics.

Remember 2018 when McConnell and Republicans held a 52 to 48 majority in the Senate? Imagine McConnell decided his majority could just add 82 Senators. That would make the Senate 134 Republicans to 48 Democrats. Does that sound (small-d) democratic? Does it sound the least bit fair or inclusive? If that happened Democrats would rightly excoriate the GOP for overturning the result of the elections. The fundamental result of the 2018 Senate elections was the ratio of Democrats to Republicans, 52 to 48. To change that ratio is to overturn the result of the election.

At the April 10th meeting of the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee (MDP SCC), about 85% of the “Unity Slate” voted with Party leadership to overturn the Party elections held at the February State Convention. The “Unity Slate” together with MDP leadership used their majority on the State Central Committee to add 82 voting officers to the SCC, just like McConnell would add 82 Senators if he could. At the February Convention, all the members of the MDP collectively decided on a ratio between the establishment’s “Unity Slate” and the Solidarity Slate; roughly 20% for Solidarity and 80% for “Unity.” By adding 82 voting officers to the SCC, the establishment has overturned the result of the election. The new, illegitimate, ratio is 14% to 86%. The “Unity Slate” majority on the SCC is stealing 6% of the voting power delegated to the Solidarity Slate by the members of the Party at the State Convention. There is no higher authority in the MDP than a State Convention. The SCC is subordinate to the State Convention, not above it. For a Party that campaigns on making sure every vote matters, this is shocking behavior. It says to the progressive community, “6% of your votes don’t count.”

Is that allowed under MDP rules? 

No, of course not. Rule 7.1.1, titled “Election of Officers,” explains how to put officers on the SCC: “the State Central Committee … shall elect … officers” seems pretty clear and straightforward. There are exactly two methods of election allowed under MDP Rules for Voting and Elections (RVE), majority voting and slate voting. Majority voting is used exclusively for single-position offices, “an office filled by only one person” (RVE 2.4). Slate voting is used exclusively for multiple-position offices, “an office for which more than one person is to be elected” (RVE 2.1). On April 10th, 82 people were illegitimately installed on the SCC using a process that wasn’t an election of any kind, much less a slate voting election.

What process did Chair Barnes use to install them? She presented her list of 82 candidates, and asked for an up or down vote on them, without asking for or allowing any other nominations. That process exists in MDP rules, but not for electing officers. It is the process specified for appointing Standing Committee members (9.0.1). Chair Barnes used the appointment process for committee members, not the election process required for officers, to illegitimately install 82 “officers.” A clear and obvious violation of the rules.

This was not a mistake. I pointed out all of the above to Chair Barnes and Executive Direct Jensen two years ago, before the illegitimate appointment of the previous group of SCC “officers.” Back then, they initially committed to follow the rules, and then broke their commitment. I reminded them of the rules several days before the April 10th meeting this year by sending them the Solidarity Slate of officers for the election. Chair Barnes acknowledged during the meeting that she received it; she never responded to it. Chair Barnes claimed during the meeting that this was an “election.” It wasn’t, it was an illegitimate appointment. Chair Barnes claimed during the meeting that this was the “customary practice” of the MDP, in effect arguing the MDP should elevate “customary practices” above our written rules. When in conflict, written rules always supersede “customary practice.” I don’t believe Chair Barnes doesn’t understand this basic principle of rules and parliamentary procedure. Chair Barnes and Director Jensen were repeatedly made explicitly aware of the rules. These rules aren’t complicated or hard to understand. They knew the rules and chose to break them.

MISolidarity will be challenging this illegal installation of officers at the Appeals Committee. 

MISolidarity is working to build the democratic wing of the Democratic Party. To join, go to misolidarity.org.

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