Guest Post by Julia Rosen. Julia is the Online Political Director for the Courage Campaign. She is also an editor at Calitics.
Let's start with the good news first, even though there is plenty of bad to come later, given the disgraceful behavior of California Democratic Party staffer Bob Mullholland, caught on video. In just five days, over 33,000 Americans, 90% or more Californians, joined the Courage Campaign call for the California Democratic Party (CDP) to censure Senator Dianne Feinstein for her pivotal votes to approve Judge Michael Mukasey as U.S. Attorney General and Judge Leslie Southwick to the U.S. Court of Appeals. These Americans were joined by the Courage Campaign, MoveOn.org, Progressive Democrats of America, CrooksandLiars.com and over 40 Democratic Clubs and progressive organizations from across California. With a week of non-stop organizing, this movement changed the conversation of the entire meeting of the CDP Executive Board.
Party Chair Art Torres spent about half of his speech on Saturday praising Senator Dianne Feinstein, acknowledging that people within the Democratic Party are upset with a few of her crucial votes. Of course, these weren't just any votes. They were votes contrary to core Democratic (and democratic) values like opposing torture, racism and homophobia. Despite the party chair's call not to censure Sen. Feinstein, the censure resolution was endorsed by the Women's Caucus, the Progressive Caucus and the Irish-American Caucus at the E-Board meeting. Unfortunately, it was never formally taken up or addressed by either the Resolutions Committee or the main body of the Executive Board. Members of the Resolutions Committee objected to hearing it, which meant it could not be brought to the Executive Board -- which was within their prerogative, given that it was a late resolution.
This is indeed what CDP Senior Advisor (read: paid party staffer) Bob Muholland said would happen.promised to the Huffington Post:
"It is going to be thrown out and rejected," said Bob Mulholland, a veteran party strategist in Sacramento. "Sometimes people can't anticipate or can't understand the big picture."
We knew this was going to happen. We knew that, even backed by over 33,000 people and some 40% of the CDP as represented by the caucuses and clubs that voted for the resolution, there was little chance that it was going to pass. The rules were stacked to kill such a resolution, without hearing. But we respected the process and accepted that action. The next day, members of the Progressive Caucus made an official, respectful request to the Executive Board general session within the bounds of parliamentary procedure to have the rules suspended so that the resolution would at least get a hearing. This motion -- which would have expressed no confidence in the chair of the meeting rather than dealing with the substance of the censure resolution -- failed to nobody's surprise. You can watch all of that in the following video. Admittedly, it is a bit rough; Jethro Rothe-Kushel, our videographer, was up all night cutting it. A good portion of the video is focused on Bob Mullholland's actions during the weekend, from his intentional attempt to block our camera when Jo Olson moved to have the resolution heard, to repeatedly calling Courage Campaign Chair Rick Jacobs and East Bay for Democracy's Chair Janet Stromberg "worse than Bush". According to the account provided by Courage's Rick Jacobs on the Huffington Post, Mulholland also disrupted the Resolutions Committee meeting the previous day:
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When the resolution was brought up late in the session, the Party's senior advisor and long time chief spokesperson, Bob Mulholland, stood and shouted from the side of the room, "Object, and object!" There were other shouts from the room as committee members joined in. Committee Co-Chair John Hanna objected and then others objected and then, as if to make sure that we got the point, everyone who wanted to join the chorus of objections demanded that their objections be counted, too. It was a sort of pile on moment, in which one veto simply would not do. It all happened within about a minute.
You can watch it all in the video. Mulholland's total disrespect for openness and accountability of the CDP to the party membership -- the very people who pay dues and donate to pay his salary -- is appalling. But it gets worse. On Friday, the first day of the convention, Mullholland made the following comments to the Guardian (UK) about the movement to censure Senator Feinstein:
For Bob Mulholland, a campaign adviser to California Democrats who has known Feinstein since her time as San Francisco mayor, the backlash against Feinstein amounts to a betrayal rather than a defence of the party's core principles. Mulholland blasted the bloggers and activists supporting the censure resolution as "fringe" and "pre-nursing home". "The Democratic party's purpose is to remind armchair activists that the duty is to elect a Democrat to the White House so we can end the Iraq mess", he said. "Nothing should get in the way of that."
Ironically he was attacking his employers: The members of the California Democratic Party. The delegates who brought up the resolution. The caucuses and clubs who endorsed the resolution. The tens of thousands of grassroots and netroots activists who are registered Democratic Party members that signed on to the call to censure Dianne Feinstein. Mullholland's intent was to depress the hard work by thousands of activists who have been toiling successfully for years within the party structure to elect Democrats and make the party more open and accountable. They have been crashing the gates, only now to be told by Mullholland that the gates are closed and to bide their time until entering a nursing home. This is not the kind of Democratic Party I want to build. And it is not the Democratic Party that I know staffers, leaders, delegates and members want to build. It is, however, emblematic of larger problems within the political consultantocracy that the netroots are working to change. There are many who do not want to see our dirty laundry aired in public. To that I say, don't make the laundry dirty in the first place. Don't let people like Bob Mulholland speak for the Party and denigrate its members. Don't predetermine the outcome of the democratic process. Don't discourage people from wanting to get involved in party politics. Don't push energetic people out of the party or you'll continue to lose registration as is happening in California. Don't be defensive when new blood floods into the system. Do find ways to tap that energy and learn new tactics for the 21st century. Do apologize when you screw up. Open up the lines of communication. Don't say STFU you DFH. Bob Mullholland is not the party. All of us are the party.