The Missouri Democratic Party (MDP) recently held their state convention.
Some shit went down.
Not old school “shit”, like back in the days of Truman when folk would fist-fight and then kick a horse.
I’m talking new-school shit, when people who are new to party politics meet up with folk who could run a clinic on how to get your party politics on...and shit gets real ‘cause oil and water and all that jazz.
I’ve seen Facebook posts congratulating supporters of Bernie Sanders for advancing his agenda at the Missouri state convention. I’ve browsed through pictures of smiling newly elected delegates and read blog posts breaking down how Sanders supporters organized to get what was definitely an impressive turnout that garnered significant outcomes.
Some articles make it seem as if Team Sanders owned the room.
I’ve seen posts from Clinton supporters too, some expressing anger and frustration, others resigned to what went down.
Across the board, folk seem excited to move forward to the DNC.
But the thing is...and you just knew there was a thing...
I’ve also been flooded with emails, texts, calls, and GChats (Lawd, give me strength!) expressing outrage that attendees failed to pass resolutions on abortion rights, LGBT non-discrimination, or voting rights.
That got my attention.
Missouri has one abortion clinic, a 72-hour mandatory waiting period for abortion, and a state legislature that has made it their goal to end abortion access. My state is a test kitchen for abortion restrictions...and no progressive worth their vote doesn’t know that.
In Missouri, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people can be fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, and denied access to public accommodations and services.
And in November, Missouri voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would require photo identification in order to vote. A study by Missouri Secretary of State Kander found that 220,000 registered Missourians don’t have photo ID. Y’all can do the math on just how devastating this poll tax dressed up to look like a ballot measure would be.
If you want to know what Democratic lawmakers in Missouri end up spending too much time defending and not enough time advancing, these are on the top of the list and you can add in worker rights and freaky tax bullshit.
So, yay...glad to see resolutions on new stuff and workers rights and taxes.
When that many progressives gather in a space to elect delegates and pass resolutions that are being and will continue to be used to frame the state party’s priorities...and the gathering fails to pass resolutions supporting abortion rights, LGBT equality, and voting rights…
Whatever the fuck DID happen is not what could have or should have happened in the room where it happened.
A Quick Note on Representation.
The same logic that inspired Sanders supporters to organize around the state convention...the understanding that representation matters, no one can speak for you or advocate for your beliefs like one of you, and the concern that other folk may not prioritize your issues the way you need them to be prioritized…
Yeah, that’s the same logic that makes me cringe at the fact that no people of color were selected as 2016-2020 DNC Members-Elect.
And it wasn’t that people of color weren’t in the room where it happened.
Nope, everyone isn't already on the same page.If I had a dollar for every time someone running for office in Missouri with a giant “D” by their name failed to give a full throated endorsement of abortion rights, I’d be able to finance photo ids for the 200,000 Missourians who may lose the vote in November.
And I’m not even going to dive into the confusion, messed up strategy, and compromises made on voting rights.
As for LGBT Equality, Dems have come a long way. But now is not the time to tone down support for non-discrimination bills or equality in general.
Now is the time to get specific as hell and loud about abortion, non-discrimination, and voting rights.
That isn’t what happened in the room where it happened.
Did Paper Fly and Shouts Ring Out in the Room Where It Happened?At a fucking minimum, I expect a damn revolt when an abortion resolution doesn’t pass.
At a minimum, I expect paper to fly and shouts to ring out when a voting rights resolution isn’t proposed.
And damn it all to hell, if you can gather and organize to fight for representation on the slate, then you damn sure should be able to do the same for a non-discrimination resolution.
At a minimum, that should have happened in the room where it happened.
What Comes Next?I’m left feeling that it is what it is.
The party will move forward.
The new blood made their priorities clear, and sent a strong message to the party about those priorities.
In the end, the big story out of the state gathering was representation.
Who organized and got what they wanted.
Do I think MODems are going to suddenly become horrible on LGBT rights?
But a resolution would have sent a clear message to candidates, voters, and Missourians that MDP is all in on MONA and everyone else should be too.
Do I think MODems are going to stand up for abortion rights and demand the same of candidates who run under the party’s banner?
Some will, others won’t.
The party has a long way to go, and the lack of a resolution on abortion rights won’t help address a history littered with inconsistent and reluctant support for abortion rights.
Do I think MODems aren’t committed to protecting voting rights?
I’m pretty confident that Dems are committed to voting rights, particularly since the votes under attack are usually Dem votes.
But we’ve got a monster of a ballot measure coming up in November, and a resolution would have been a nice reminder to the press, voters, and Missourians that voting rights are under attack and Missouri Dems are the ones deep in the battle to protect them.
And no, I'm not just bitching to bitch.
These are Missouri specific issues that should be a priority for Dems because they sure as shit are a priority for the MO GOP.
In summary…The world doesn’t revolve around the Missouri Democratic party, resolutions, or non-binding party platforms.
That said, it does matter what people do and what they fight for when they are in the room where it happens.
It is a privilege to be able to journey to Sedalia, spend the day there, and participate in the state convention. I personally don't think it should be so damn hard for folk like me to go...for all the reasons and then some.
But it is what it is.
And now we move onward.
***cue Hamilton’s History Has Its Eyes On You***