Making the Texas Democratic Party More Democratic

January 31, 2008 by  


By Inayatullah Ibrahim Lalani

My usually serene and unflappable friend Sayeed Siddiqui of Houston appeared visibly incensed as he walked out of the committee room. He had just finished participating in the proceedings of the Resolutions Committee of the Texas Democratic Party last summer. “Our party is rife with some very undemocratic shenanigans”, he seemed to be saying.

I suspect many Democratic activists are disconcerted by the way the party rules play fast and loose with the resolutions passed by the party members at various levels. Just because you bring a well-crafted resolution to the precinct or district convention or the County level resolutions committee and get it passed through your talents of persuasion or sheer logic and fairness of the resolution itself and even because a great number of precincts and districts place their stamp of approval on such or similar resolution does not mean it will eventually survive, let alone be incorporated in the party platform. The reason for such is that the powers that be assign a lone or at most a handful of individuals to sift through a large pile of them that eventually reach their desk. His or her or their job is to sift through, catalogue, clean up and bring before the state level committee all those resolutions for consideration and passage or rejection – in a very short time .The state committee’s decision in this matter is final.

Now the handler (or the handlers) of the resolutions is (are) not allowed to append a positive or negative recommendation concerning the resolution, let alone arbitrarily discarding them. But that is exactly what he often does and it is done quite arbitrarily with no accountability to the general membership of the party or even the State Executive Committee of the party. This kind of heavy handedness is more becoming of the Republican Party and cannot be allowed to go unchallenged in our Democratic Party.

The only way to remedy this intolerable hole in the otherwise very fair structure of the party rules is to persuade a few members of the Rules Committee to address the problem. If the issue is articulated properly and specifics of the mechanism for assuring the integrity of the resolutions processing system are clearly outlined, I doubt the suggestion will meet any resistance. If the rules cannot be amended (I will call it the Siddiqui Amendment), then trying to pass the resolutions will be mere spinning of wheels.

The set of resolutions we are currently crafting and hope to soon circulate among our readers through e-mail so that they can bring them up for consideration and debate at their respective precinct conventions/caucuses includes the one with Siddiqui Amendment. I am going to suggest that any resolution that has been approved by at least 15 precincts and at least one Senatorial District Convention MUST be brought for consideration by the state level Resolutions Committee and, additionally, that the power of the State Resolutions Committee to defeat such a resolution be severely curtailed (for instance, requiring 75% of the members present to vote it down). This would be at the heart of the Siddiqui Amendment.

If you agree that there is urgent need for this little reform, you should seek a position on the Rules Committee at every level. Remember, you cannot sit on any committee unless you vote in the primary election of your party.

Although above remarks relate specifically to the Texas Democratic Party, those of you who live in other states ought to scrutinize your own state’s party procedures and apply the same criteria to them. That goes for the Republican Party also.

Inayatullah Ibrahim Lalani is a freelance writer based in Benbrook Texas. He can be reached at assadiq@gmail.com.

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