The trouble has begun for the Alabama Democratic Party following Saturday’s tumultuous executive committee meeting.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison said in a tweet on Monday evening that the national party is aware of “troubling” allegations and is “looking closely into the situation.”
That ominous warning was in response to a chaotic meeting in which a portion (it certainly didn’t appear to be a majority) of executive committee members voted to implement new bylaws, replacing DNC-mandated bylaws adopted in 2019. The new bylaws would eliminate the Youth, LGBTQ+ and Disabled caucuses and reduce the power of other caucuses, once again bestowing immense power upon the party’s Black Caucus, the Alabama Democratic Conference.
There were also allegations of a poll tax and repeated violations of party rules and basic math.
And now, the DNC will be forced to act. And the ADP will suffer.
That’s my opinion, of course – that the DNC will act – but it’s not exactly going out on a limb. The bylaws that were trashed on Saturday were the DNC-mandated bylaws. The same ones the national party went to war over just a few years ago. The same ones that the DNC fought (successfully) court battles over in Alabama.
There’s also the small matter of those bylaws being right and proper. They expand access and equality to a number of marginalized groups and force ADP to recognize that “minority,” in the eyes of the DNC, means more than just Black voters.
The national party has to defend those bylaws. The only other option here is to admit that diversity and inclusion isn’t one of the party’s primary goals.
And for ADP, that’s devastating trouble. Because almost certainly means that the national party is going to cut off funding. Again. That it will pull back on training efforts and other resources. Again.
All of it leaving a party that was on the edge of irrelevance somehow much closer to that reality.
And to what end?
This is the thing that bugs me about this whole charade – what’s the goal here?
I wrote yesterday that I like and admire Joe Reed (true) and that I understand why he and his ADC supporters do not plan to relinquish power. I haven’t changed my mind.
But there are two issues.
First, the ADC argument for abolishing the DNC-mandated caucuses makes no sense. They claim that it illegally dilutes the power of Black votes, and that it undermines a federal court consent decree. But it does neither.
After the 2019 bylaws changes, there was actually a percentage INCREASE in Black executive committee members within ADP. It’s just that many of those Black members were in Youth or LGBTQ or other caucuses, and not in ADC.
That meets the stipulations of that consent decree. The court never said that the percentage of Black members in the ADC had to be equal to the percentage of Black voters in the most recent statewide election. It said the percentage of Black members in ADP….
Secondly, though – and this is far more important: what’s the goal here, outside of simply claiming power over a losing party?
ADP, in its current form, is a mess. And it has been a mess fairly consistently for the past decade. It has lost seats in the legislature in almost every election since 2010. And its donor base has dwindled to almost nothing.
The only way out of the current death-state is by attracting more people. The only way to do that – since you have no money and no power – is to offer the one thing that the Republican Party will never offer: acceptance for all.
ADP has to be a platform for people of all backgrounds and genders and religions and sexual orientations and economic statuses to be heard. That’s what those DNC-mandated bylaws were about.
The bottom line is that there’s no way a sole minority group in this state can have significant impact on political outcomes. It will take all of them. And then some. That’s the only way back for the party, but more importantly, it’s the only way ADP can sell itself as a viable option to the public.
This doesn’t seem to be in dispute, even among ADC members. They know they lack the numbers to truly implement change – to flip seats, to push through legislation (or even slow down really terrible Republican-backed bills), to fight off attacks on basic rights. They know they need like-minded people, no matter their backgrounds or affiliations, to join up the fight.
And yet, still, in this absurd quest for meaningless power, they swat away the people who pulling in the same direction.
That’s not a very smart way to go about this.
And now it looks like it’s gonna be costly.