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General News    H2'ed 5/23/17

Is the Party Over for California Democrats?

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From opening day to the final session, the California Democratic Party was anything but united.

Tom Perez
Tom Perez
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On the opening evening, May 19, the Nurses Association of America organized a demonstration inside the Chairman's reception that drove DNC Chairman Tom Perez from the stage and resulted in CDP Chairman John Burton swearing at the delegates and using the F word multiple times in his verbal attacks on the delegates.

Though Perez was drowned out at the free reception, at the dinner Saturday night, he was the speaker for those who cared to pay to see him. There he had a better reception from delegates with the money to afford the dinner.

Single-payer healthcare was the biggest theme of the protests and demonstrations at the convention. The leaders were made well aware that any deviance from supporting single-payer would cost them big in the next election. In the Progressive Caucus, it was announced that Sacramento State Senator Richard Pan was opposing SB 562. The 2005 founder of that caucus, Ruth Hull, was later seen drilling Pan about the bill. Pan tried to avoid stating his position on the bill, claiming he hadn't seen it and so Hull summarized it and continued to attempt to ferret out his position on the subject. Pan's responses made it clear that he was not on board with the idea of single-payer. Members of the Progressive Caucus said they planned to hold Pan and other Democrats opposing the bill accountable.

Kimberly Ellis
Kimberly Ellis
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The battle for Chairman pitted Vice Chairman Eric Bauman against Emerge's Kimberly Ellis. Neither had backed Bernie Sanders during the primary but Ellis declared herself a Berniecrat after the general election. Bauman has been one of the more progressive leaders of the party, supporting single-payer health care, the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, repeal of NAFTA, withdrawal from the WTO, Middle East peace, abolition of the death penalty, and an end to corporate prisons and mass incarceration. Though Jewish, he is a member of the Arab-American Caucus. Kimberly Ellis expressed strong support for single-payer, election accountability According to the handcount and recount, Bauman won by a little over 60 votes. Kimberly's team was presented with the ballots for verification.

Eric Bauman
Eric Bauman
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The lack of unity within the party was very evident in the resolutions. The Resolutions committee was taken over by corporate Wall-Street supporting Democrats John Hanna and Martha Escutia following the sudden and unexpected death of former progressive chairwoman Inola Henry. Since Henry's death, the Resolution's committee has become more pro war and less supportive of populist agendas. There were three resolutions against Russia and Trump, citing non-existent intelligence information that has been refuted by Dennis Kucinich, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange. A resolution blaming Russia for Hillary's loss of the election also blamed the Russians for the CalExit movement that is being pushed by many California Democrats. Hull took the anti-war lead in pulling the resolution blaming Russia for the election result. She quoted Dennis Kucinich's statements about the Military Industrial Complex pushing the Russia narrative in order to create a new Cold War from which they could profit. She was the only speaker at the convention to address the disenfranchisement of Democrats during the primaries. Though the resolution was adopted, close to half of the delegates opposed the resolution. There was only a voice vote as in Nevada and no way of knowing whether those backing the resolutions were delegates. Many party volunteers and staff members, selected by the party officials, were present and nobody was checking status during the voice vote.

As the convention was ending a significant chunk of the Ellis faction announced they planned to DemExit. Several people quoted Jill Stein in saying, "You cannot have a revolutionary movement within a counter-revolutionary party."

 

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Henry has been a professor of political science and legal ethics and an advisor to many successful candidates for public office. He is currently working on a book about the inequality crisis in America.
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