Friday, May 5, 2017

Democratic Unity Reform Commission, Meeting #1, Day #1

The Democratic National Committee continued its path toward developing the rules that will govern 2020 presidential nomination process.

And if you came looking for fireworks on day one of the Unity Reform Commission (URC), you left disappointed. The group convened for the first time on Friday, picking up where the Rules Committee at the Democratic National Convention that chartered the committee left off.

This meeting, and likely part two tomorrow, will not be about setting any rules. Instead, the atmosphere among the 21 members -- minus two today -- was cordial. It was, after all, more of a preliminary meeting than anything else.

The usual suspects came up in presentations and subsequent discussions about the legal parameters of the nomination process and the history and evolution of the rules. There was a smattering of complaints about the privileged positions of Iowa and New Hampshire and the timing of delegate selection events generally, chatter about devising best practices for caucus states, and, of course, some mention of the place of superdelegates in the Democratic nomination process. Larry Cohen, Vice Chair of the URC and current Chair of Our Revolution, even reined in the group on superdelegates, cautioning that the group's next meeting (not tomorrow, but the next time they convene) will deal with that subject.

And overall, that was pretty much that. This was an introductory meeting that found the group more or less feeling each other out.

FHQ had a recent discussion with someone in the Democratic Party, and we were talking about expectations for the URC. The point that I made then would reiterate at this juncture is that successful rules making from this group will be measured by the extent to which they are able to avoid items falling into the familiar Clinton/Sanders divide. If this becomes a process dominated by the rules decided along (intra)party lines, then it is likely to end bitterly. In the paraphrased words of a disappointed Sanders supporter at the convention last summer in Philadelphia, "These commissions are where reform goes to die." Perhaps, but it does not necessarily have to be or end that way.

But as the rules-making process on the Republican side over the last two cycles will demonstrate, it is difficult to avoid factions developing in a process that is viewed as extremely important among elites/activists within the parties' coalitions.

The second part of the first URC meeting will be tomorrow. FHQ will be on hand for that as well. Whether I have a wrap up post on that session depends on the ground covered, but I will provide commentary on Twitter in real time as well.

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