thank-youGeorgia Democrats have at least one thing to be thankful for these days, or more specifically, one person. In the midst of very troubling times for our party, it’s comforting to know we have a first vice chair who is both willing and able to steer the ship away from the rocks, conduct a fair special election according to organizational rules, and put all egos aside to do what’s best for the party.

Now that’s a change.

For those just tuning in, following Mike Berlon’s resignation as chair on June 10, per DPG rules, the first vice chair assumed the role of interim chair. Having just returned from her much-needed and well-earned vacation (which was interrupted by all this, mind you), a hot mess landed squarely on her shoulders. In the wake of Berlon’s resignation, the party was fractured, fundraising was stagnant, and staff and member morale was lower than ever.

What did she do? She did as she always does. She stepped up. She left her paying job and jumped into the fray to help out the party (as is her duty), whereupon she found an assortment of problems to be solved immediately.  She now logs 10-12 hour days putting out fires (not literally, of course) and will conduct the all-important business of the special election to fill the remainder of Berlon’s term. She has put her career, social life, and just about everything else on hold until a new chair is elected.  It’s important to her to do this properly, because it’s important to all of us. That’s not selfish, it’s selfless.  Good lord, people.

She hasn’t asked to be thanked, but certainly deserves to be. Every Georgia Democrat is in her debt. My friends and I have reached out to her to offer help and support. Sadly, a few others have been less generous and have instead attacked her for following rules set out by the Charter & Bylaws. Rules, by the way, that were interpreted by DPG Counsel.

I am typically a Jay Bookman fan, but this time I’m afraid he leapt before he looked.  The rules are very clear.  If you don’t like them, there are ways to correct that.  Join your local county party and work hard to get elected to the State Committee (it took me four years).  Once elected, volunteer to join the Bylaws committee (or even chair it).  Evaluate the Bylaws and Charter to determine the changes that can be made while still complying with DNC rules.  Present the revisions to the entire body, hoping that a quorum is in place, and seek a vote. This is the painstaking process for rules changes, so have at it.

As it stands, only a white male can run to fulfill the remainder of the term of a white male.  That’s it. No amount of lobbying, whining, Facebook posts, AJC comments, etc. is likely to change that.  Come 2015 we’ll have open elections and all y’all can run then.  Until then, either jump in and help or shut up.


12 Responses to Don’t Shoot the Messenger

  1. JMPrince says:

    As usual, clear as mud too.

  2. Chris says:

    My understanding of the rules it that anyone could get elected to the Chairman’s post. However, if it isn’t a man, Nikema would have to step down from the DNC and they’d have to find another man who serves in an executive position (one of the other vice chairs) to be the DNC member. For diversity sake, a white male may be preferred to be the chair, but there’s no rule that requires it.

  3. Ice Tina says:

    Honestly, I have to question the sanity of anyone who would want this gig. Especially the sanity of someone pushing so darn hard for it.

    No money, no real ability to raise money… little respect by activists who have done much of the work the party was supposed to do.

    The State Committee is filled with sheep or two bit punks.

    Rules….Hey good luck with that.

  4. smm says:

    Lex iniusta non est lex

    I’ll support anyone who doesn’t care what the bylaws say and just runs anyway. i think state committee members would totally be willing to vote for whomever and ignore bylaws dug up by the state party lawyer. If anyone says the person isn’t legitimate, we can just ignore them. xoxox

    • Gerald says:

      Please explain how this law is unjust?

      There is no white male voice in the officers at the current time. Are we not the party of diversity and inclusion?

  5. Fletch says:

    This all forms quite the message to truly qualified candidates for Chair looking to run now or in 2015:

    There are plenty of other organizations that ACTUALLY DO THINGS TO HELP ELECT DEMOCRATS – take your talent there.

  6. Jen B. says:

    If you guys need any help licking envelopes or printing buttons, let me know.

  7. George Chidi says:

    I agree with Grift. The rule is stupid. It essentially locks in white men at the top of the party leadership in a state where a voting majority of Democrats are black and a voting majority are female.

    Also worth noting: what do you do with a bi-racial candidate? Suppose, for sake of discussion, a Latina of African descent were to seek one of the vice-chair positions, would she count as black, or Latina? Both? Eligible all around for diversity-sake?

    Well then. What would you do with a biracial man with a black and a white parent? Would that person — of exactly the same ethnicity as the president — be eligible to take the chair?

    The fact that I can ask these questions speaks to the absurdity of the rule. It’s no bad on Nikema; I’m not even sure it’s a Georgia thing. I think this is a national rule pushed down to the state committees, but I may be wrong.

    The state party is structurally screwed up for a lot of reasons: delegations outside of metro Atlanta have structural strength all out of proportion to their population or the voting power of their Democratic constituencies. There’s no baked-in way to hold Democratic candidates responsible for party fundraising and election support. The lack of funds make it impossible for the chairman to spend all day, every day, pounding a message. There’s no plan for candidate development or training.

    This is icing on that cake.

    • Steve says:

      Here’s my question George:

      How does this lock white men at the top of the party leadership, exactly? I mean for the next two years, maybe, but permanently it decidedly does not. For example, Mike Berlon’s predecessor was certainly not male.

      I don’t disagree with your bi-racial question, and it is interesting from a rules perspective. But as I said in my post, the purpose of the rule is sound, and in fact (in my opinion) ensures that the party is not a white male dominated group.

      • NorthGADem says:

        George, my guess is that what the person identifies as would be how the counsel would rule.

        If they person classifies themselves (on official documents, census forms, etc) as biracial then the question is: do 20% of Georgians classify themselves as biracial?

        If they classify as white or black or latino or asian or whatever, the same rule holds, do 20% of Georgians classify themselves as such?

        20% or more of Georgians classify themselves as white, therefor in an inclusive party, at least one member of our officers should be white. Same rule for any other racial identity group that makes up 20% of Georgians.

        DPG rules also say that our Chair and First Vice Chair should be opposite genders.

        So it just happens to work out that a rule put in place to protect minorities (including women) is in this instance, protecting white males, a large percentage of Georgians, who currently have no “voice” in the DPG officer positions.

  8. griftdrift says:

    Not knocking Nikema. Y’all are extremely fortunate to have her.

    But I do remember six years ago, while y’all softened me up with Jell-O shots, that this rule was pretty odd. And one day it will cause trouble.

    Well here we are. Final Berlon turd bomb just went off.

    It’s time to change the rule. And if anyone thinks that you need a rule to enforce diversity, based on the highly qualified, dare I say highly vocal minority and female leaders you have, I’m going to laugh in your face.

    But you’re right, Catherine. Not my party. Maybe not my place to say anything. Just observations from the outside looking in.