Are You Ready For A Reformed Nominating Process In 2012?

Monday, Governor Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, announced the 37 member Democratic Change Commission, which will recommend changes to the Democratic Party's rules for the 2012 presidential nominating and delegate selection process. Governor Kaine also announced that he has named Congressman James Clyburn of South Carolina and Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri as Co-Chairs of the Change Commission.

"This Commission will focus on reform that improves the presidential nominating process to put voters first and ensure that as many people as possible can participate," said Kaine. "I want to thank all the members of the Commission who have agreed to serve, including Congressman Clyburn and Senator McCaskill who have graciously agreed to serve as co-chairs."

Governor Kaine went on to say that he hopes to work with the Republican National Committee on a common approach that puts voters first.

President Obama first announced his intention to form the Democratic Change Commission in August 2008, during his presidential campaign. Delegates to the Democratic National Convention adopted President Obama's proposal on Monday, August 25, 2008.

The Democratic Change Commission will address three issues: 1) changing the window of time during which primaries and caucuses may be held 2) reducing the number of superdelegates and 3) improving the caucus system. A copy of the convention resolution establishing the Commission is below. The Commission must issue its report and recommendations to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee no later than January 1, 2010.

The Commission is made up of 35 members and two co-chairs and represents a diverse mix of DNC members, elected officials, representatives of State Parties, academics, labor, business, grassroots activists and other Party leaders. A complete list of the Commission's members is below.

    Co-Chairs:

  • Congressman Jim Clyburn
    Columbia, South Carolina

  • Senator Claire McCaskill
    St. Louis, Missouri
  • Commission Members:

  • Grassroots Activist Jeremy Alters
    Miami, Florida
  • Political Strategist Jeff Berman
    Washington, DC
  • Grassroots Activist Ashley Bliss
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • State Representative Dan Blue
    Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Political Strategist Bill Carrick
    Los Angeles, California
  • Mayor Michael Coleman
    Columbus, Ohio
  • Political Strategist Jeff Forbes
    Washington, DC
  • Grassroots Activist Joan Garry
    Montclair, New Jersey
  • State Chair Larry Gates
    Overland Park, Kansas
  • School Board Member Adelita Grijalva
    Tucson, Arizona
  • Professor Rob Hampshire
    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Former State Chair Ned Helms
    Concord, New Hampshire
  • Former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman
    McLean, Virginia
  • Chairman Ron His Horse Is Thunder
    Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
  • IBT President James Hoffa
    Detroit, Michigan
  • Grassroots Activist Roseanne Hope
    Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • State Senator Steven Horsford
    Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Grassroots Activist Suzie LeVine
    Seattle, Washington
  • UAW CAP Director Dick Long
    Detroit, Michigan
  • Grassroots Activist Andres Lopez
    San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Former Attorney General Patricia Madrid
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • DNC Member Debbie Marquez
    Edwards, Colorado
  • State Senator Iris Martinez
    Chicago, Illinois
  • Delegate Jennifer McClellan
    Richmond, Virginia
  • Secretary of State Linda McCulloch
    Helena, Montana
  • Attorney General Tom Miller
    Des Moines, Iowa
  • DNC Member Minyon Moore
    Washington, DC
  • Grassroots Activist Sunah Park
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Campaign Manager David Plouffe
    Washington, DC
  • Grassroots Activist Rebecca Prozan
    San Francisco, California
  • DNC Member James Roosevelt, Jr
    Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Congresswoman Linda Sanchez
    Lakewood, California
  • AFT President Randi Weingarten
    New York City, New York
  • State Chair Meredith Wood Smith
    Portland, Oregon
  • Grassroots Activist Martin Yeung
    Rapid City, South Dakota

Resolution Establishing the Democratic Change Commission

(This resolution was recommended by the 2008 Convention Rules Committee at its August 23, 2008 meeting and adopted by the 2008 Democratic National Convention on August 25, 2008 in Denver, Colorado)

Section 1. Establishment of Democratic Change Commission.

BE IT RESOLVED: That no later than 60 days after the date of the next election of the National Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the National Chair shall establish a commission (the "Commission") to review the Delegate Selection Rules in light of developments during the 2008 presidential nominating cycle and to recommend changes to the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, not inconsistent with these resolutions, to improve the nominating process.

RESOLVED FURTHER: That the Commission shall be known as the "Democratic Change Commission;" that it shall consist of 35 members and two co-chairs, all with the right to vote on Commission business, appointed by the National Chair of the DNC; that its membership shall be equally divided between men and women and shall be geographically and demographically diverse; that the DNC shall provide the Commission with adequate staff and resources to carry out its mandate in accordance with this Resolution; and that the Commission shall issue its report and recommendations to the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the DNC no later than January 1, 2010.

Section 2. Timing of the Primaries and Caucuses.

RESOLVED FURTHER: That the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2012 Convention shall provide that no meetings, caucuses, conventions or primaries which constitute the first determining stage in the presidential nomination process (the date of the primary in primary states and the date of the first tier caucus in caucus states) shall be held prior to the first Tuesday in March of the election year, except as otherwise provided in the Delegate Selection Rules and recognizing the valuable role played by the approved pre-Window states in 2008; and provided that no such meeting, caucus, convention or primary shall in any event be held prior to February 1 of the calendar year of the National Convention; and that the Commission also shall review the sequence and scheduling of primaries and caucuses with a view towards reducing the scheduling of such events on the first allowable date that resulted in 22 primaries and caucuses being held on such date in 2008 and toward reducing frontloading within the Window period; and that the Commission shall review the rules for proper enforcement of the primary and caucus timing requirements and delegate allocation matters, particularly with respect to action by the Rules and Bylaws Committee; and that in making its recommendations, the Commission consider any revision of the Rules of the Republican Party of the United States adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention regarding the scheduling and sequence of presidential nominating events.

Section 3. Delegates.

RESOLVED FURTHER: That the Commission shall consider and make appropriate recommendations for revisions to the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2012 Democratic National Convention to provide for a significant reduction of the number of unpledged party leader and elected official (PLEO) delegates in order to enlarge the role and influence of primary and caucus voters in the presidential nominating process. The Commission also shall review the formulas for delegate allocation to assure that delegates are fairly allocated to accurately reflect the will of the voters and that the right of the delegates to reflect the sentiments of those who elected them shall be secured to all delegates.

Section 4. Caucuses.

RESOLVED FURTHER: That the Commission shall consider and recommend appropriate revisions to the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2012 Democratic National Convention to provide that:

a. the use of a caucus/convention system for any stage of the delegate selection process by any State Democratic Party shall be approved by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee in accordance with any new specific criteria to be set out in the Delegate Selection Rules, and which will be designed to ensure that at each stage, any caucus or convention will be adequately planned, organized, and staffed; will take place at such times and in such locations as will meet the requirements of Rule 3 of the Delegate Selection Rules and will otherwise maximize the opportunity for full participation by Democratic voters; will be run using appropriate balloting methods and, as to tiers following the first stage caucus, will utilize accurate lists of participants; and will afford the opportunity for meaningful communication of presidential candidates with their pledged caucus participants reasonably in advance of caucuses and conventions.

b. the use of a caucus/convention system for any stage of the delegate selection process should be organized in a manner that will ensure the maximum ability of Democratic voters to feasibly participate in the first-tier caucuses, including consideration of absentee voting in caucuses to benefit those who cannot attend a scheduled caucus due to military service, work, health conditions, family obligations and other similar reasons that prevent attendance in person.

Section 5. Status of Resolutions

RESOLVED FURTHER: That the Commission may address other matters related to the presidential nominating process and Delegate Selection Rules as may be identified by the National Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and that for the purposes of Article Ten, Section 2 of the Charter of the Democratic Party of the United States, these resolutions shall be deemed to be "otherwise designated."

Tags: Caucuses, Democratic Change Commission, Democratic National Committee, Democratic National Convention, Democrats, Primaries (all tags)

Comments

65 Comments

Any Suggestions? I'm sure the DNC...

...Will be looking for them.

by Andre Walker 2009-03-24 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Any Suggestions? I'm sure the DNC...

Yes, Trim the commission to a manageable size so some actual work can be accomplished,

by Judeling 2009-03-24 08:43AM | 0 recs
No more caucuses No crossover voting

People should have to have been registered as Dems for at least a year before voting in the primary.

Caucuses should be converted to primaries.

The nomination process in 2008 was gamed by the GOP.

by architek 2009-03-24 07:25PM | 0 recs
Gamed, yes, but...

...it was gamed in a way that didn't help them one iota.  I don't think that's really the issue here.

Both caucuses and states without party pre-registration serve a particular function and I don't think they need to be replaced.

by Dracomicron 2009-03-24 07:59PM | 0 recs
As far as Caucuses

Caucuses are a weird situation.  They are what inevitably results when there is no funding/will to hold primary elections in a state.  As a state taxpayer, I certainly wouldn't want to fund a GOP primary so I don't care if my state were to deny funding to a Dem primary.  There is no compelling reason why a Republican in Wyoming or a Dem in Mass should have to pay for a private organization to select its candidate.  

I can certainly say that any move to convert to an all primary schedule is going to cause massive problems in state legislatures and even in situations where funding is available it's going to cause a FL type situation with the calendar.

The more doable types of reform are fair reflection and Superdelegate reform.

by AZphilosopher 2009-03-24 11:55PM | 0 recs
Re: As far as Caucuses

what about the several states that held BOTH caucuses AND primaries and where the delegates were awarded according to results from less inclusive caucuses?

by swissffun 2009-03-25 05:24PM | 0 recs
Re: As far as Caucuses

Primacaucuses should be banned.

by AZphilosopher 2009-03-25 10:24PM | 0 recs
Re: No more caucuses No crossover voting

No more closed primaries... we have enough of them already.

Ideologically purity tests are the death knell of the Republican party currently... we don't need to institute them ourselves...

by JenKinFLA 2009-03-25 04:21PM | 0 recs
Re: No more caucuses No crossover voting
it was gamed by the DNC.  Rush and his troops are a legend in their own minds.  Republicans voted for both Hillary and Obama.  I am pretty sure that was a wash.
What really harmed the process what the DNC only following "the rulz (rulz are rulz" that favored Obama.  It was very obvious and it was damaging.
by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:40AM | 0 recs
Simple idea

one man/woman = 1 vote

No caucuses, and no superDs!!

by Ravi Verma 2009-03-24 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Simple idea

Looks like they're aiming at implementing at least a reduction in PLEOs, and a more fair caucus system that allows for absentee balloting, etc.

by mistersite 2009-03-24 09:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Simple idea

Superdelegates are problematic and I don't have a good answer. I think every delegate should be elected, and elected with a preference (or as a formal Uncommitted). But if you make the congressman run against everyone else, the congressman will win, and the congressman doesn't want to win by beating the 19 year old volunteer.

There should be some kind of two-track system where the congressman runs in a pool with the majority leader and Secretary of State and governor and so on, and the volunteers run against other mortals. The question there is a) how many delegates come out of each pool and 2) which pool does the union president or county chair swim in, because they'll usually (but not always!) beat the 19 year old doorknocker too.

by jdeeth 2009-03-25 08:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Simple idea

Why not separate Presidential business from other business? That allows the supers to be eliminated and to carry more delegates.

by AZphilosopher 2009-03-25 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Simple idea

Is the party going to kick in money to pay for the Primary?   The reason many of the states who DO caucuses use them is because of costs... Caucuses are significantly cheaper.

by 30000Fine 2009-03-24 03:47PM | 0 recs
not quite

The states pay for the primaries. The parties pay for caucuses. So it's cheaper for the parties to hold primaries.

The main reason parties hold caucuses is they use them as party-building efforts.

by msn1 2009-03-24 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: not quite

Many states will not pay for primaries...  so, the party is left holding the bag...

by LordMike 2009-03-24 11:32PM | 0 recs
One more...

to hell with NH and Iowa... the order should be chosen by lottery!!

by Ravi Verma 2009-03-24 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: One more...

I don't think a lottery is the way to go.  I think we do need a strategic vision, if for no other reason than that having a state like California or New York at the head of the line would all but ensure that any candidate who didn't have massive funding behind him/her from the get-go wouldn't be able to compete.  We do need to put at least some small states first, in order to create a situation where less-well-funded candidates can try to build some momentum going into the big states.

I do agree, though, that it's past time Iowa and New Hampshire be bumped from the head of the line.

by mistersite 2009-03-24 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: One more...

It will never happen.  The parties can decide what they want, but NH and Iowa will change their dates... just like they did this year.   Heck, NH has a law saying it HAS to be first.   No way they give those up.    

by 30000Fine 2009-03-24 03:48PM | 0 recs
looks like the are setting in stone

the rules manipulation that allowed PrimaDonna B. to rig the nomination for Obama against the will of the primary voters.

Get rid of caucuses and I might be impressed. As it is, they are saying THEY will chose what states are important and which get to go first.  Just like this time it will all be done with some particular candidate in mind.

by Teacher1956 2009-03-24 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: looks like the are setting in stone

Ah, the Primary Wars are back.

I would like to point out that at the time the 2008 rules were set, Barack Obama had very little power in the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton had a great deal of it.  To suggest that the rules were rigged in favor of Barack Obama is rather laughable on its face given this political reality.  Obama learned to effectively maneuver within the rules as written in order to secure more delegates than Hillary Clinton, but that was due to the relative strategies of the two campaigns, not to any predetermined "rigging" process.

Just like this time it will all be done with some particular candidate in mind.

I disagree with your assessment of the 2008 primary, but I agree that this will be done in 2012 with the understanding that Barack Obama will be renominated.  In my opinion, this creates a situation where we're more likely to see major reform, since reform can't be perceived as a political maneuver to work in a particular candidate's favor; as it's all but a foregone conclusion that the incumbent president will be the nominee, and the 2016 election is still seven years away, we might see some actual change.

by mistersite 2009-03-24 09:43AM | 0 recs
Preconditions

are not Democratic

by architek 2009-03-24 07:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Preconditions

Huh?  I don't see what that has to do with my comment.

by mistersite 2009-03-24 07:50PM | 0 recs
Re: looks like the are setting in stone

I know we all have just been dying to impress you.

by selfevident 2009-03-24 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: looks like the are setting in stone
apparently so since you felt the need to comment.
Now try disputing what I said.  Or is this actually dkos where meaningless unfunny snark rules the day?
by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:57AM | 0 recs
Yes, the secret power cabal

picked a black man with an Arab sounding name, just in order to stop Hillary.

LOL, no wonder your buds descended into White Tapes and Birth-Certificate Gate, after you swallow that one whole, you can stomach any crazy!

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-24 11:04AM | 0 recs
Money

is destroying democracy in the USA

Meaningful "hope" or "change" is absolutely impossible until we have MAJOR campaign finance reform.

The system is seriously broken.

by architek 2009-03-24 07:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, the secret power cabal

am I at dkos? Such a lot of words, such weak snark

by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes, the secret power cabal
h... and race baiting.  So very Obama of you too.
Don't like Obama must be racist.
by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: looks like the are setting in stone

Of course had your candidate not run a piss poor campaign, then Obama probably wouldn't have won the primary.    When you hire morons to run your campaign, you deserve to lose.

by 30000Fine 2009-03-24 03:50PM | 0 recs
actually, what is the great irony is

The PUMAs constantly screamed about sexism and misogny.

But, IMHO what did Senator Clinton in were indeed sexist males in her campaign, a lot of whom were picked by her husband IMHO!

No woman, with a free hand, picks the Pig Marc Penn to run her campaign.

Sorry, that was Bill's influence.

Start with Marc Penn and Bill, that was the deep dark conspiracy that did Hillary in.

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-24 04:02PM | 0 recs
please stop.

its trolling when they do it obama - thus its trolling when you do it to hillary.  thanks in advance!

by canadian gal 2009-03-24 04:47PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, what is the great irony is

oh thanks "PUMA's scream".  Thanks for the sexism

by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: looks like the are setting in stone

yeah, she ran such a bad campaign that more people voted for her.  

by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Are You Ready For A Reformed

My favorite idea, I can't recall who came up with it, was that whichever state had the highest voter turnout in a given election would get to go first for the next cycle.

Setting that aside, my expectation is that there will be further chaos and acts of civil disobedience unless and until the party demonstrates a willingness to set aside the sacred-cow status of Iowa and New Hampshire.  New Hampshire didn't incur any penalty whatsoever for violating the rules last cycle, and even though most voters didn't notice, I'm pretty sure the state parties did.

by Steve M 2009-03-24 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Are You Ready For A Reformed

Rotating primaries, possibly elimination of caucuses (I'm not sure that that's feasible).  Eliminate superdelegates and state systems that utilize some weird double primary system.

by rfahey22 2009-03-24 11:43AM | 0 recs
why wouldn't it be possible?

One could make a good argument for a completely revamped voting system in which the role of politicians was considerably reduced, and voters could directly participate in writing and approving legislation.

by architek 2009-03-24 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: why wouldn't it be possible?

Because it's my understanding that some states continue with caucuses out of tradition, while some simply don't have the funds to engage in a full primary.

by rfahey22 2009-03-24 08:12PM | 0 recs
That's no excuse

They could conduct the primary by mail pretty easily.

No matter what, people need to get going on this now.

I have been appalled that many communities still are using these electronic voting machines that have closed, proprietary software (the "trust us, we're experts" kind - ugh ) and NO PAPER TRAIL.

A simple optical paper system with a printer that printed a double ballot page with perforated center, and a bulk scanner would be better.

Then there would be a physical record of the votes that people could check easily.

by architek 2009-03-25 09:01AM | 0 recs
Re: why wouldn't it be possible?
some states hold caucuses that last all day and you just go in and drop off your vote in a ballot box.  That would be a much better situation.
In fact I believe that is how the republicans do it in TX.
by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: why wouldn't it be possible?

They call that a "firehouse caucus" and it's in effect a party-run election. I remember Michigan doing it in `88 when Jesse Jackson won.

by jdeeth 2009-03-27 10:01AM | 0 recs
My problem with rotating primaries/lotteries

is that while they will usually add nice variation and fairness to the system, eventually Cali will come first. That year the big money candidate will have a marked and obvious advantage, the system will be perceived to be wrong and unfair, and the year after the system will be scrapped again.

The primary system can't rely on "average" fairness, it needs to be built with an eye towards "worst-case" fairness.

by Neef 2009-03-24 11:50AM | 0 recs
Cali never has to go first

It is not impossible to cook up a list of small states that are approved to go early, while making sure that large states like Texas and California wait their turn.

by Dracomicron 2009-03-24 08:05PM | 0 recs
That's true

I was thinking more of a lottery situation (random order) than a pool situation where pool A goes before pool B. I agree that you pretty much HAVE to do it that way, so that your worst case (Cali first, NY second) is accounted for.

by Neef 2009-03-25 04:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Are You Ready For A Reformed

The current system is designed to promote the interests of the well-off within the party.  This means having one that excludes as many of the poor, aged, and disabled as can possibly be done within the bounds of the 13th Amendment and ADA.

If anything, the change commission is going to add caucusses and hybrid voting systems.  We'll have even more caucusses being held in second story rooms with no handicapped access, and running until 3 AM on Tuesday nights.  The commission will take the process we already have and make it more complicated, more in favor of those already in power, and screw everyone else.  I wish I were wrong, but I'm not going to be.

The accumulation of power is its own reward.

by SuperCameron 2009-03-24 05:07PM | 0 recs
2012?

I'm quite sure that that is a typo.

s/b 2016

by QTG 2009-03-24 06:41PM | 0 recs
okay

I don't mean to be "Debbie Downer" but....Tim Kaine, Claire McCaskill, Jim Clyburn - are you SERIOUS? Why don't they just add David Plouffe, Donna Brazil, and Bill Richardson to the committee.

C'mon - it's filled with (sorry I have to say it) Obama-bots. How can this really be taken seriously when there is NO - representation from the "other" candidate....you know, the candidate that actually got the most VOTES....the candidate who's delegates were removed by the members of the Democratic Party Leadership....

Alright - not that anyone is going to listen, but here's what needs to be done, IMO:

#1) NO caucuses. By their very nature they disenfranchise voters: disabled people, Seniors who struggle to get to places or sit for along time; mothers who can't find baby sitters; shift workers; voters who are out of town when the caucus takes place or who have to work - the very nature of a caucus leaves out potentially hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.

#2) Hold primaries  - allow people to vote in advance by mail/absentee, or a live vote that is checked against a register to be sure they a) have not already voted; and b) have registered to vote.

#3) DUMP IOWA. I personally do not like the idea of ONE state, the same one every time deciding the entire election. An argument is often made that lesser known candidates would not get their "day in court" if the entire process was held on ONE day. Well, then at the very least switch out the states so that the same one(s) do not always decide. Instead of a middle state going first, change to a western state (not NV - but OR for example); then a southern state like FL instead of SC; then a northeastern states like VT instead of NH; then a middle state like OK instead of IA. Keep switching like this til you get to the final date where you want the winner to be chosen by.

I personally think it is best to hold ONE primary on ONE date sometime in May. All the candidates can visit the states leading up to that. If more $$$ are spent in the bigger states looking for votes, then so be it - these same states will matter in the general.

#4) DUMP ALL SUPER DELEGATES. Why get rid of SOME and not all? What could the purpose of holding onto a FEW be? If in the end they don't vote the way their state voted, then what is the purpose that they serve? Again - in the case of Obama/Clinton, the SD's switched from Hillary to Obama - not because he was "better" but because his campaign had more money to donate to the SD's reelection campaign. It's as if the SD's serve as some sort of "mofia" that you have to payoff to get their votes. And yes I would say this even if Hillary had the majority of SD's voting for her.

Final few things I'd note:

-the Repugs have (at least in some states) a "winner take all" delegates strategy - this makes sense IF the democrats think it is important to get the winner sooner (rather than drag it out). Rather than split up the delegates by country, area, etc - they are delegated by whoever wins the whole state. This is keeping in line with how the electoral process works for the general and I think it's a good idea.

BUT

-I still think the most "democratic" way is 1 vote 1 person - whether it's for the democratic primary OR the general election - but that would be too simple, right?

Last thought - many people have said to me "if you hated caucuses so much, why did you never speak up before (Hillary ran)". You know many of us (pro-Hillary and pro-Obama) NEVER did this before 2008. I had NO idea that caucuses were so - what's the word - ILLEGAL!!! That just ANYONE could walk in and "claim" they were registered (no checking), or that you had to ANNOUNCE in public who you supported, or that if the candidate you supported (ie Dennis Kucinich) didn't have enough caucus go-ers, you had to declare for someone else, or if you couldn't get off at 2pm on a Thursday for 4 hours to vote - too bad you're out of luck. I HAD NO IDEA - many of us never did this before and I was APPALLED by what I witnessed.

by nikkid 2009-03-24 07:03PM | 0 recs
Important! No caucuses. No GOP crossover voters.

and especially MAJOR CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM.

Otherwise, the system is wide open to abuse.

by architek 2009-03-25 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: okay

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the President is the leader of the party... ergo, they would be the President's people regardless... umm, Obamabots in this case.  Yesh, cannot we just let that term die on progressive sites already?

Let me say that again... the President is the leader of the party.  THAT is how this is taken seriously.

There will not be a primary challenger in 2012 unless President Obama elects not to run so a lot of this is moot until 2016.

by JenKinFLA 2009-03-25 04:28PM | 0 recs
Re: okay

Yes we all KNOW Obama is the LEADER of the Party. IF HE -the leader- is SERIOUS about reform, then bring in OTHER people rather than a bunch of "yes men". Otherwise, it's placating.

by nikkid 2009-03-25 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: okay

There is no need for reform until 2016.  There will not be a primary challenge.

by JenKinFLA 2009-03-26 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: okay

Correct, but then why put together this team NOW?

by nikkid 2009-03-26 06:18PM | 0 recs
My suggestions

1) Make sure there's a good variety of selection methods: Primaries, Caucuses, hybrids of those two, party affiliation states, and also completely open states.  Having a variety of selection methods makes our candidates more dynamic.

2) Wipe out superdelegates.  We don't need them.  This is the Democratic Party, we should be democratic.

3) Make delegate selection based strictly on actual vote/caucus fractions... if you get 53% of the votes, you should get 53% of the delegates.

4) Reduce the amount of time taken by the primaries.  There should never be three weeks that go by without a primary as there was in Pennsylvania last year.

5) Set up a rolling list of small states in the Midwest, South, East, and West to be chosen each cycle as the early primaries and caucuses.  There's no reason we should have to get terms dictated by Iowa and New Hampshire every cycle.

6) Reform primary campaign finance so that there are restrictions on how much money you can collect for the general election while still in the primaries so as to prevent the phoenominon of taking the primary for granted.

Just some ideas I've had over the last year or so.

by Dracomicron 2009-03-24 08:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Are You Ready For A Reformed

The caucus hate is ridiculous... If you've ever participated in a caucus, it's a fantastic party building tools and it's raw democracy in action.  It's very empowering to be a part of... your opinion matters for once!  Not only that, it's a system where money matters a lot less than the quality of candidate...

I think the caucus system should be expanded, personally... maybe find a way to participate online or on the phone... find away for people to vote if they can't make it, but certainly encourage more people to participate!  It's a great process!  One worth nurturing, not destroying...

by LordMike 2009-03-24 11:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Are You Ready For A Reformed

After volunteering in Las Vegas during their caucus, I would never ever want to go through that process. I was quiet grateful I live and vote in California where I was not subject to the to the abuse and intimidation of the opposition and could make my choice in private  and on a paper ballot.

by JasonMoreland 2009-03-25 08:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Are You Ready For A Reformed

there are other ways to party build.  Caucuses are, just as Dean said many years ago, too easy to game and undemocratic by nature.

by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:51AM | 0 recs
Obama Iowan here

I'm not going to pretend to be objective but here's some thoughts:

Some of our problems were unique to 2008. We won't see two candidates so strong and so evenly matched, and such an intense level of interest, for a very long time.

We Dems are process obsessed. Republicans just do what they'll do. Michigan and Florida Republicans lost half their delegates, said OK, and no one mentioned it again.

Michigan and Florida really should have been punished somehow. The politics of the Hillary-Obama truce and the general election demanded that they weren't, but it'll make it that much harder to enforce whatever rules we make now.

We Iowans are gonna have to give in and set up an absentee process. Problem is, unrestricted absentee will turn the heavily staffed caucuses into a de facto absentee ballot drive and kill the town meeting tradition.

Personally I'd like some reasonably broad but somewhat restricted list of reasons: "I'm on duty in Afghanistan" OK, "the game's on TV that night" no. I don't know where to draw the line between those two extremes; somewhere between "I have to work" and "I don't like the caucus site's parking lot."

As for closed vs. open primary issues those issues are deep matters of state-level political tradition (I grew up in Wisconsin) and really hard to fight. I'd like to see a more closed system too (especially in our local races, I live in a county where the Dem primary is the de facto general election for courthouse offices) but all movement is in the opposite direction, toward blanket primaries, Top Two general elections, and taking partisan labels off offices.

by jdeeth 2009-03-25 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Iowan here

As far as the open primary, often this is how primaries get on the ballot anyway, it is a cost of doing business.  Some states won't pay if it is not available to everyone to vote.  Also, if memory (as faulty as that might be) serves that there may be legal issues here too.

Also, to get an all-primary slate, the party would have to piggyback off of existing local elections, which would diminish the party's ability to schedule.

The easiest reforms are going to be:

  1. Superdelegates
  2. Fair reflection
  3. Schedule
  4. stripping NH/IA of delegates if they reschedule.

As long as all 4 tiers are followed, MI/FL type stuff won't happen.

by AZphilosopher 2009-03-25 08:46AM | 0 recs
Good list

but #4 is problematic for the exact reasons MI/FL were problematic, and because of the MI/FL precedent.

I mentioned it upthread, but it's important to redesign this with an eye towards worst-case scenarios. Edge cases are what break the system, as we saw last year.

by Neef 2009-03-25 09:35AM | 0 recs
Reformed Nominating Process In 2012?

In 2012, the issue will probably be largely moot on a practical level.

I do welcome these changes, but we won't really get to see what they mean until 2016, when we have a new slate of candidates running for an open job.

Anyway, we should all be concerned if we have a hotly contested primary in 2012 - anytime that has happened in the last 50 or so years in which one of the candidates was the incumbent president, the end result was that the other party won the general election, and the incumbent POTUS became a one-termer.  Case in point, 1976 and 1980.

by Obamaphile 2009-03-25 10:44AM | 0 recs
Since when do candidates get rubber stamped?

At this point, we have little idea how Obama will turn out.  

We have an idea, though and its not as positive for working class people as many of us would have liked to see so far.

Single payer healthcare seems to be "off the table" for ever, am I correct?

by architek 2009-03-25 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Since when do candidates get rubber stamped?

Historically, incumbent first-term presidents always get rubber-stamped, and when they don't, their party loses.

Unless you support the idea of Mitt Romney becoming the 45th president on January 20, 2013, it ain't good to campaign against the incumbent president in your own party.

I can say one thing for certain about the 2012 Presidential Election - I would place $1,000 on it today.  Barring impeachment or a national tragedy occurring before then, if the winner of the 2012 Election is going to be a Democrat, that winner will be Barack Obama.

You are free to vote for whoever you want.  The only Democrat who can conceivably win in 2012 (barring the aforementioned calamities) is Barack Obama.  I know some folks who supported the other major candidate last year in the primaries still cling to a fantasy that she'll run in 2012, but here's reality - it ain't gonna happen.  And if it did, it would be a surefire way to put a Republican in the White House in 4 years.  Ronald Reagan didn't win his party's nomination in 1976, and Ted Kennedy didn't win his in 1980.  But both of them definitely helped their party's nominee lose the general election, by thinking that they were so special that they could do what hasn't been done in more than a century.

Obama will be the 2012 Nominee, and if he isn't, we're almost certainly going to have a Republican POTUS in 2012.

by Obamaphile 2009-03-25 01:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Since when do candidates get rubber stamped?

Well said!

by JenKinFLA 2009-03-25 04:30PM | 0 recs
A Reformed Nominating Process

My proposals:

1) Superdelegates do serve a purpose - they were largely created to prevent someone like George Wallace from claiming the Democratic Nomination on populist furor.  But they are overrated and too powerful.  I believe that the superdelegates should be made up exclusively of publicly elected officials - all Democratic members of U.S. Congress and all Democratic state governors, and that's it.  No state party chairs, no past DNC chairs, no past presidents, no NGO leaders.  Just currently elected officials.  Second, I believe the total number of superdelegates should only equal 10% of all delegates, pledged or unpledged.  This gives them tiebreaking abilities in very, very close races, but not the ability to overturn a strong majority for one candidate.

2) Caucuses - kill them.  I was a strong Obama supporter in 2008 and continue to be glad that he ultimately won, and I don't question the legitimacy of his victory, but I think caucuses are profoundly undemocratic.

3) Timing - Have three primary days, one in February, one in March, one in April.  The first primary will include the 15 smallest states (adjusted after every census), the second will include the next 15 smallest states, and the last will include the 20 biggest states plus the territories.  This prevents California or New York from getting to pick the candidate, but it also prevents Iowa or New Hampshire from doing so, either.  This gives the small and medium-sized states the opportunity to voice their opinion before any candidate has an insurmountable lead, but still allows the larger states to go against that opinion if the feeling is that the wrong person came out on top in the first or second round.

by Obamaphile 2009-03-25 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: A Reformed Nominating Process
Obama did not win, he was selected just as Hillary would have been selected had the super Ds chosen her.
She got more votes, he gamed more caucuses and bought more super delegates.
by Teacher1956 2009-03-27 08:49AM | 0 recs

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