I am amazed how everything I wrote about then hold true today. The difference being, with the advent of an army of Bernie Sanders delegates, the things I wanted to change are now, possibly within grasp.
While I no longer am seeking the post, I hope that someone, with all the right credentials, may arise from the Sander's camp to take the reins of the NDP in hand and guide it to a brighter future. Anyway, I hope you all might enjoy reading this, unless, of course, you are one of those that are part of the problem, and not the solution.
Fellow delegates to the 2014 NDP State Convention,
Our Constitution says that we are the “supreme governing body of the Nebraska Democratic Party.” We are the only representatives to our party that are elected according to the statutes of the State of Nebraska. And yet - unless you are elected here as one of our party’s officers, as a delegate to the State Central Committee, or are chosen to represent one of the various affiliated organizations privileged to occupy a seat on the State Executive Committee - once you leave here this weekend, your work is done and your “authority” is nullified by the aforementioned.
This is the fourth State Convention that I will have attended as a delegate. I have also served as the Chair of my county, as a State Central Committee Delegate, as the Associate Chair of the 3rd CD, and have served on numerous committees over the years. I was instrumental in the formation of the 3rd CD Organization, and have served in a variety of roles within it. I have, until recently, taken an extended hiatus from party politics. I will admit that, for some persons of authority within the NDP, I was a particularly uncomfortable presence. I believe strongly in holding the feet of those in charge to the fire. I do not tolerate those that abuse their roles to satisfy personal agendas over that of the people that elected them as representatives.
I have been particularly upset with the numerous times I have seen the State Convention and the State Central Committee pass resolutions or bylaws that were immediately relegated to the trash bin as they were uncomfortable for those behind the curtains. Actions demanded by the State Central Committee were often totally ignored by the State Chair and the Executive Committee - those whom our Constitution says are subordinate to them. I have witnessed out and out violations of our Constitution and Bylaws. Our resolutions and our party platform are universally ignored despite the Constitution’s demand that they be promoted. It is time for such things to end.
As your State Chair I would hope to return the NDP to its glory days such as in the early ‘90s when Democrats counted two Senators, one Congressman, a Governor and Lt. Governor, a State Treasurer and a State Auditor. Since 1980 we have seen a consistent decline in the percentage of Nebraska voters registered as Democrats. Back then we were nearly nose and nose with the Republicans, holding 48.85% of all registrants. After the recent primaries, our numbers have declined to an all time low of 31.15%. Most recently we have been able to count ZERO federal or statewide offices held by Democrats and we have lost the office of mayor in Omaha. This is not the kind of “continuity” I envision as being healthy for our party.
I would love to tell you that by electing me as your State Chair everything would immediately turn around and our party would enjoy unheard of successes. I would be a fool to promise that. What I will promise you is that, as your State Chair, I would recognize my role as the least important Democrat in the state, because I would be subservient to you all. For me, the most important Democrat in this state isn’t the highest office holder, it is the common registered Democratic voter. All of us that are here for this State Convention, each of you that will serve on the State Central Committee, and every member of the State Executive Committee or the various other committees would be reminded by me that you are here to serve your fellow Democrats, not to take advantage of them, or to lord your “power” over them. I would demand hard work from each and every one of you, and I would hold people responsible for their duties as they are described in our Constitution and Bylaws, not merely according to my whim.
We have an awful lot of work to do. That work is rebuilding the Nebraska Democratic Party from the ignoble state that it is in today. What needs to be done is mostly on the local level. I see the NDP office as a place that should provide help wherever it is needed, not merely a site for fundraising and event planning. We can hold all of the self-congratulatory dinners we want to, but they don’t elect Democrats to office. We can hold fund-raiser after fund-raiser, inviting those who are already in our fold, but we will not grow our party by rubbing elbows with each other - there are too few of us!
Those counties and organizations that are already well organized don’t need interference from the state office. Our resources are needed to help grow in areas where there has been too little activity by our leadership. The requirements of the vast rural areas of our state are far different than those in Lincoln and Omaha. We need to develop strategies that will enhance our presence in those areas dominated by the GOP today.
What I propose is a revolution. It will be uncomfortable for some folks that are entrenched in their cushy roles in the party, as it should be. The alternative is more of the same “continuity” which will result in 3rd party and Independent voters outnumbering Democrats in this state by 2020. I’m not so much into golf tournaments and fancy dinners as I am getting down into the trenches and fighting for what we, Nebraska’s Democrats, stand for. Elect me and I won’t lead from the rear.
Are you up to it?
Brian T. Osborn