Nina Turner On Transforming the Democratic Party From the InsideOur Revolution President Nina Turner discusses her work on the DNC Unity Reform Commission
December 11, 2017
The DNC Unity Reform Commission finished their recommendations of reforms to the Democratic National Committee this weekend, which included a 60 percent reduction in super delegates, more democratic rules in caucuses, greater DNC budget transparency measures, and the creation of an elected Ombudsman Committee to hold the DNC accountable during the presidential primaries. The recommendations will be sent to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee, who have six months to accept or propose amendments to the recommendations before the 447 DNC members vote on whether to enact the recommendations in the DNC’s Fall 2018 meeting.
“There's going to be a lot of organizing between now and then to get the members of the DNC to vote for in favor of the changes that the Unity Reform Commission has recommended,” said Our Revolution President Nina Turner, a member of the commission, in an interview with the Real News Network. “We need the grassroots. This is a insiders' game, so the only people who get a chance to vote are the people who are members of the DNC. But we need the grassroots to use their voices, to say to the DNC that they support the recommendations of the Unity Reform Commission.”
Though Turner and progressives on the commission did not come to a consensus with the Clinton appointed members of the commission on every proposal they pushed, Turner noted the fact they were able to come to a consensus on several reforms is progress in the right direction.
“One way or the other, the DNC members will have a chance to weigh in on these changes and vote them up or down,” added Turner. “So we need grassroots lobbying efforts to the members of the DNC to say that these changes should happen to make this party more accountable and more transparent, and to have real unity the Democratic Party's going to have to reform.”
The commission failed to recommend is to push for open primaries in every state. Closed primaries during the 2016 Presidential Primary were severely criticized for shutting out independent voters, many of them young voters or independents who were enticed to participate in the primaries for the first time due to Bernie Sanders’ campaign.
Sanders lost closed primary contests to Clinton in New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and lost by thin margins in Kentucky, New Mexico, and Nevada where independents were barred from participating, despite public tax dollars used to finance the primaries.
“We pushed hard to open up the primary process to all voters, believing that the independent voter that is leaning democratic will come in and vote and help. And they rejected that just flat out,” said Turner. “Democrats can't win without independent voters, so to me it's shortsighted to say to them, ‘You're not wanted in the primary process, but come and save us in the general.’ We can't have the both ways.”
Though the DNC Unity Reform Commission rejected recommending open primaries, the DNC rules and bylaws committee and individual states can still push to open up their primaries to voters for the 2020 election. In Florida for example, the state’s constitutional review commission is currently deciding whether to place open primaries up to a vote on the 2018 ballot.
The DNC itself still has a long road of reforms ahead to earn back the trust of voters who were disenfranchised by the 2016 Democratic Primary process and subsequent DNC member appointments and staffing. In order to accomplish this, Turner noted, progressives and Berniecrats must, “go to our states and run for those seats, so that when members of the DNC are selected, that we have a real seat at the table because we were elected by our states. And so that increases the likelihood that someone who is a progressive can be appointed to those seats.”
Turner says that only by gaining access to these local seats can progressives make real change. “The more people we can get elected as committee persons and chair and vice chair persons, the more then that we can impact what happens on the national level,” she said. “So I want people to run if they really care about working inside the party.”