They may be tiny improvements, and represent the bare minimum in standards for democracy and decency, but I’m pleased with two steps that Democratic elected officials have taken this week.
First, Democratic Party leaders forced the resignations of accused sexual harassers John Conyers and Al Franken. After a disastrously slow start to addressing the allegations, including a boneheaded interview where Nancy Pelosi referred to Conyers as an icon, Congressional leaders have rightly and successfully pressured Conyers and Franken into resigning their seats.
The DNC “Unity Reform Commission,” put together in light of the ugly 2016 primary and lingering bitterness on both sides, also took an important step forward by nearly unanimously voting to remove a large number of superdelegates from the party’s presidential nominating process. It still needs to pass a final vote among the DNC steering committee, but the elimination of around 400 superdelegates will help ensure greater democracy and transparency in the primaries.
The measure also may tie some superdelegates to the preferences of their state. This is a great policy because it would eliminate situations like the one seen in the Alaskan caucuses of 2016. Bernie Sanders received over 80 percent of the state’s vote, however the delegates were evenly split because superdelegates straight up refused to back him over Hillary Clinton. That result is obscene: it is an affront to democracy and a slap in the face to the voters the Democratic Party wants to support its candidates.
Democrats still have a long way to go before establishing a truly inclusive party and, it should be noted, one with zero tolerance for sexual harassers (Menendez and Kihuen are still in office). Making reforms like tilting the party’s orientation toward community service in underserved areas and establishing democratic elections for party officials. But this is a good first step of what will hopefully be many to ensure that the party evolves to properly meet the standards of the 21st century.
Then maybe they can get back to winning elections on a regular basis.