Oklahoma Democrats' platform needs reform
BY RICHARD WADDELL
Friday, November 16, 2012
11/16/12 at 3:43 AM
In Oklahoma, all U.S. congressmen and both U.S. senators are Republicans. Republicans hold all statewide offices and solid Republican majorities hold both state houses.
The Oklahoma Democratic Party could surely not become more useless.
One reason seems obvious. When you stand for nothing, you stand alone. One might think the Oklahoma Democratic platform would tell us what Oklahoma Democrats stand for, but try finding it on the Internet. As of earlier this month, I could not do so.
The two TV ads I saw fielded by John Olson, Democratic candidate for Congress, reflected perfectly the party mindset. In the first ad, Olson tells us little more than that "Congress is broken." In the second ad, he tells us he will represent all the people. In both ads the visuals are softly pleasing, and the music is tasteful and subdued - nothing to disturb anyone or to make anyone stop and reflect. He didn't suggest in either ad what actions he might take.
For several years now, the Oklahoma Democratic rank-and-file have written relevant and progressive platforms; then party officials have manipulated state conventions to avoid adopting these platforms. This dynamic must change. The Oklahoma Democratic Party must become more - drum roll, please - democratic.
The party uses an antiquated system for writing the platform. Once every two years, precinct meetings are held where ideas are generated for what to include in the platform. A committee in each county then writes a proposed platform. These platforms, along with possible amendments, are approved by the county conventions. The county-proposed platforms are then used to form district platforms, and a final proposed platform is written for the state convention.
Precinct meetings that kick off the process most often include a small number of voters. Sometimes a meeting of two people or one person can insert important statements into the proposed platform.
We need to develop a method for collaboration that will give the party more thoughtful and effective platforms. Ideally, all Democrats should be able to participate and to comment on all parts of the proposed platform. The current process permits comments on proposed statements only in precinct meetings or from delegates at the county, district and state conventions.
We now have the technology to drastically alter the way we collaborate. I propose the party host a continuous discussion on the Internet to craft statements that party activists and the general public could support. The Internet site could be patterned after the OccupyCafe web site at www.occupycafe.org/page/about-1.
OccupyCafe allows registered users to write blogs, initiate and host discussions, comment on any blog, and participate in any discussion.
If the party so chooses, a "DemocraticCafé" web site could be used to build a new Democratic coalition. The discussions could be open to all who claim to be Oklahoma citizens. Crafted statements could then be used to write proposals in precinct meetings. Registered members of the party would thus retain veto power over what goes into the platform.
Republicans have been sadly out of touch on environmental questions, income inequality and education, among other issues. Democrats should embrace the challenge to offer better ideas. We can offer policies that are more beneficial to Oklahoma and to the nation. Reality is on our side.
Demographics are also on our side. Party leaders have assumed the voting population of Oklahoma is fixed, conservative and white. The 2012 election demonstrated the national electorate is changing and becoming more open to progressive positions. Oklahoma is experiencing the same demographic changes as the rest of the nation, and these changes will eventually be felt here.
For several years now, the explicit purpose of Oklahoma Democratic Party officials has been to elect Democrats to offices. The party should change its focus to serving the people. Elections will take care of themselves.
Richard Waddell, of Bartlesville, is a life-long Democrat.
Richard Waddell: The party should change its focus to serving the people. Elections will take care of themselves