When members of the Democratic National Committee voted to take power away from themselves and other "superdelegates" -- removing their leverage over the presidential nominating process -- they took a big step toward heeding a sign that activists held outside their decisive meeting: "Democratic Party: Live Up to Your Name."
Outside that meeting at a Chicago hotel, we were holding the sign to put a spotlight on existing hypocrisy and to call for seizing an opportunity.
Officials rarely decide to reduce their own power. And the Democratic Party has not made such a historic reform to its presidential nominating process in decades. So, how did it happen?
After participating in the 2016 national convention as a Bernie Sanders delegate and then working as part of coalitions to get superdelegates out of the nominating equation, I've been pondering what we can learn from the historic win that occurred on Saturday. Here are some takeaways:
1: Leadership to make historic change must come from the grassroots.
The mass media did not do anything to help jettison the power of superdelegates. Neither did even the most progressive Democrats in Congress. The impetus came from, and was sustained by, a progressive base that saw what was wrong with the nominating process in 2016 and was fed up.
2: Education and agitation must happen in communities nationwide.
Sometimes we hear how it's not enough to "preach to the choir." But, while ultimately insufficient, it's necessary: to build on and expand a solid base. Only with thorough and ongoing outreach -- to inform and galvanize progressives -- can momentum for long-term pressure be sustained.
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