I put the last word of the headline in quotes because the root wood is “convene” from the Latin “convenere” meaning to come together, which unfortunately is not what we did today. About a month ago at our meeting the Democratic State Committee in its infinite wisdom voted to move to an all-virtual format due to fears of the coronavirus status and to virtue signal vis-a-vis Governor Baker about how safe and cautious we are. Never mind that we were already going to require both vaccines and masks (which IMO is redundant) AND provide a hybrid option so those not comfortable with a large gathering could still participate.
The program lasted from 10:00 AM until about 1:45 PM, consisting almost entirely of a succession of greetings and speeches. We first got national greetings from the DNC Chair and the Second Gentleman followed by local greetings from the Lowell legislative delegation and Congresswoman Trahan. (Lowell still got the honorary designation of host city and some of the speeches were delivered from the Tsongas Arena. I had offered to go down and help if needed since I live five minutes away and am plenty comfortable being out, but never heard back.) We then heard from our Democratic Constitutional officers, and no, none of them made any news regarding their political futures if anyone were wondering. This was followed by a succession of speakers tasked with presenting various topics addressed in the platform. Then we heard from announced candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Auditor and the program concluded with remarks from President Spilka and Speaker Mariano. You can watch the whole thing here if you are interested.
The business of this year’s convention was to adopt a platform as submitted by the Platform Committee and amended by the convention, ratify charter amendments favorably reported by the Charter Amendments Committee, and adopt one resolution which had been submitted. Those of us who were delegates had an opportunity over the last couple of weeks to vote on these matters electronically which also would have been the case had we met today in person. Delegates were informed via email that all proposed amendments to the charter and platform plus the proposed resolution were adopted and this was publicly announced today. The charter amendments mostly update language with an eye toward greater inclusivity, though in one case I raised a point of order that one proposal about state committee seats appeared to contradict both law and another part of the charter not proposed to be amended, but was told it could proceed.
The platform turned into a “Christmas tree” where everyone with the gumption to write their own language whether just wordsmithing or a pet proposal was able to put it to a vote. There was also a last minute effort which ultimately succeeded to lower the signature threshold for a proposed amendment. It had been 200 which was discussed by both the Rules Committee and the full DSC and already lower than previously, but proponents of some amendments claimed they did not have time and felt it was unfair. Honestly the rules were publicized in a timely fashion and some did manage to follow them so I resented what felt like an end run. I voted against any amendment submitted with the lower 133 signature threshold on principle. There was not room for discernment on these matters to speak of and I suspect most delegates signed and voted for these because they sound good. I’m glad the convention is not responsible for actually enacting legislation and I’m not sure how feasible or realistic it is to hold our elected officials to a platform crafted in this manner.
Next year, of course, we are back to nominating statewide officers and I really hope the entire process is back in person since doing contested caucuses virtually is a potential nightmare. I’m not solid on supporting anyone yet and the race is probably still in a holding pattern until Baker and Healey let the rest of us in on their plans.
Thanks for the update. I’ve been to five or six conventions and have to say that I just got more cynical after each one. I can only recall a few moments that I would consider worth the time and effort. So many of the speakers went through the same laundry list of familiar talking points, one after the next. Nothing new, nothing exciting; Groundhog Day.
The platform, the charter, all nothing more than a way to quiet the concerns of some with their issues by telling them, “Okay, it’s on our to-do list”…and then we toss the list away.
I have one suggestion for the next convention.
We should require that all those employed by the facility that we rent be paid, at minimum $26 an hour while they are working on our event. If the minimum wage kept pace with worker productivity, it would be $26, not $7.25 or even $13.50. We could do this two ways. The first is to see if the employers would be able or willing to do so – and yes, we would pay a higher fee. The second would be for those working to submit their pay stubs to the committee and we would make up the difference.
This would no doubt get some news coverage and maybe show the working class that the Massachusetts Democratic Party puts their money where their mouth is.
Oh my, you mean actually DO we say we believe?
Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s stipulate that $26/hr is a genuine living wage in MA today. That corresponds to $52K/yr for a 40-hour work week and 2 weeks vacation per year.
Suppose every worker in MA received a UBI from the government (for now, let’s not specify whether federal, state or local) of $22K per year. That corresponds to $11/hr in exchange for breathing.
Suppose we left the $15/hr minimum wage in place, so that the employer still paid $15/hr to a 40hr/week worker (with two weeks vacation).
I think that leaves the worker with the same $52K/year wages that you initially propose, and leaves the employer burden unchanged at $15/hr.
What is your reaction to this two-pronged approach?
It seems to me that a UBI could be specified for each state (it could probably be determined at the county level) that adjusts for various factors that really are outside the control of local employers or government and still provides a real living wage for every worker.
What do you think?
Sure, that works for me. We could demonstrate this at the next convention by announcing to all the workers that we guarantee $26 an hour as our own “UBI” adjustment and this takes their employers out of the negotiating.
I know it’s not the same, but when confronted by Republicans about the evils of “free money”, I ask them why they nominated Sarah Palin as VP, a governor from a state that handed out “free money” via the Alaska Permanent Fund for over 30 years.
What are the odds that the Massachusetts Democratic Party would use its funds this way rather than forward them to candidates as contributions? My estimate is slim to none.
Oh — and just to provide another data point, here is an example (from Google) of 2021 internship program offered by the Massachusetts Democratic Party — https://massdems.org/takeaction/intern/.
From that link:
“8-week, part-time commitment” generally means 8 weeks at 20 hours per week.
For an intern who chooses to be paid a stipend, the organization is offering $12.50/hr. The statutory minimum wage in MA starting in January of 2021 is $13.50/hr.
Perhaps if the party was more rigorous about applying the standards to itself that it expects government to impose on business, it might produce more credible platforms and policy statement.
That’s 2-3K more than I ever got for an internship, which was straight up volunteering.
What you call “volunteering” most people call “exploitation”.
I understand that times have changed since you and I were of an age when internships were things we looked at. Our culture did lots of things ten, twenty, or thirty years ago that we do not and should not do today.
I do have to revise and extend my remarks a bit on this. I did get paid for a summer internship at the State House in 1998, but my internships on both sides of Capitol Hill were unpaid. Of course I knew that going in and did it anyway for the experience. Not sure we should denigrate volunteerism entirely. They are the lifeblood of campaigns and the National Parks also utilize several volunteers, which is sometimes what people want to do. I’m not sure I’d call it exploitation since nobody is being forced.
In a competitive job market — and EVERY professional political position is highly competitve — then “volunteer” experience is an absolute requirement of being hired.
Those who are not affluent enough to afford to volunteer — because they actually NEED money for their time — are discriminated against.
That is especially pronounced for young people of color.
It isn’t about forcing, it is about correcting the aspects of our society that discriminate against minorities and the working poor.
Unpaid internships are a significant barrier to minorities and the working poor.
The ability to donate ones time and effort free of charge is reserved for the wealthy class. Calling for unpaid interns eliminates participation from the poor working class AND allows the wealthy class to feel good about themselves and show they care……or do they?
We have previously suggested that philanthropy combines genuine pity with the display of power and that the latter element explains why the powerful are more inclined to be generous than to grant social justice.
Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society, 1932
My family was not wealthy, for the record.
Your family was many times more wealthy than your minority peers. I’m not sure you realize how many minority workers do not even have bank accounts — there’s a reason why urban neighborhoods have storefronts that cash paychecks. Many of those also provide “payday loan” — short term loans against upcoming paychecks, often with exorbitant interest rates and fees and often with “extra-legal” enforcement tactics.
Your experience, like mine, was is what people who talk about “white privilege” MEAN.
It isn’t explicit racism, and most of it is unconscious. It requires sustained effort for whites to even make ourselves aware of it.
Did you and your family have fixed address? Did anyone in your family have difficulty obtaining legal regards such as birth or naturalization certificates? Did you have a phone in your home? Did your family own a car? More than one?
Any teenager or recent college graduate who can afford to volunteer without pay for more than a few days is MUCH wealthier than those at the bottom of the wealth distribution.
Well, I guess I am referring to the subset of the population that is attending college to begin with. Yes, I assume almost all of the universe of which I am speaking had access to the things you mention. It may be a privilege to go to college (though in my circles very much the norm; I’m always flabbergasted when I see stats reminding me that degree holders are still a minority of American adults), though not expressly white privilege, which the colleges themselves make sure of with their diversity initiatives.
apply to most American families, with the possible exception of cars? Particularly the first one – surely we do not have a homeless majority!
Sorry, my friend — these apply to great many more Americans than you seem to be aware of.
There is a surprisingly large gap between “homeless” — as in having no home at all — and “no fixed address”. Many Americans are forced to move from one address to another every few months. Many Americans lack bank accounts. Many black Americans, especially in the deep south, do not have or cannot get birth certificates or naturalization certificates.
The economy has been devastating to Americans — especially black Americans — in the past decade. We in Massachusetts live in a very local bubble of prosperity. Even here at home, those of us who live in towns like Andover, Somerville, and Winchester tend to be blissfully ignorant of what life is like in — say — Fitchburg, Greenfield, Springfield, Holyoke, or Pittsfield today.
Your experience and mine tends to interfere with, rather than illuminate, the reality of today’s America for most of today’s Americans.
Surely it’s easy enough to fix some of that. I’m probably most surprised at the birth/naturalization issue. Seems to me the authorities would want such records meticulously kept. Are there still a lot more non-hospital births than I imagine? Naturalization especially being a government function I would think the appropriate agency would both give you a copy and keep a copy of the record thereof. Shouldn’t be that difficult to open a bank account either. Just bring your first paycheck to the bank of your choice and ask to open an account (and before you say that some don’t have ID, don’t they need ID to work in the first place?)
Here on Cape Cod, we have an abundance of multimillion dollar vacation homes and over 20,000 people living on or below the poverty level.
The few Republican friends I have remaining will sometimes ask me, “If Massachusetts is to liberal and run by Democrats, why are there so many poor people?”
I don’t know if we would have the leverage to tell a facility what to pay its staff and of course raising our costs would raise delegate fees which creates its own issues around accessibility and inclusion.
Suppose the party learned that a vendor was, for example, hiring undocumented workers and refusing to pay their wages? Or suppose the party learned that a facility explicitly discriminated against particular groups of workers?
I’m pretty sure that the party, like every organization, has standards about what facilities they will and will not patronize.
So the question is what those standards are.
It is a venerable and disingenuous political game to say “We adamantly oppose fill-in-the-blank, but there’s just nothing we can do about it.”
It the organization actually believes that every Massachusetts worker is entitled to a living wage, then the organization should not patronize vendors who fail to meet that standard.
The party pretty much insists on union labor and I’m sure would not countenance anything truly exploitative or illegal. We can count on the fingers of one hand the number of facilities which can accommodate a state convention and we don’t receive RFPs from all of those every year.
Organized labor is a key constituency of the MA Democratic Party.
I wonder what would happen if MA political leaders were to meet privately with executives of the relevant unions and propose that those unions negotiate a $26/hr pay scale for any political event.
It seems to me that the point is, again, to use every mechanism available to the party as leverage to make these changes happen. It’s too easy to offer excuses and rationalizations for why it can’t happen and then move on.
Whether through UBI or other means, the party can and should do more to promote a living wage for every MA worker — especially union workers.
I believe in advocating for changes in the law for everyone, but also in playing by the rules we have rather than the ones we wish we had. It is the party’s job to advocate for a legislative platform, but not necessarily to volunteer to spend more money, which can be better spent helping elect our candidates in the meantime.
And so candidates who have no desire to change this dynamic are elected and re-elected election after election and generation after generation.
I suggest that it is the party’s job to do everything in its power to materialize the vision, values, and priorities of the party into concrete reality.
It’s the same issue we’ve gone around dozens of times before here. When the party has a choice between electing a candidate who is passionately committed to the values and priorities of the party and another candidate who is not, I want the party to choose the former.
This is especially so when the former is not as “electable” as the latter.
I am not interested whether the Democratic super-majority of the MA state legislator is 10 votes higher or lower if that Democratic supermajority is unwilling to work to advance the values and priorities of the party.
The party has held a supermajority of the MA legislature for generations. The contest about electing “our” candidates was won before many of today’s voters were even born.
That Democratic supermajority has been singularly ineffective at materializing the vision, values and priorities of democratic Massachusetts voters.
Democratic candidates typically insist on their lawn signs and other materials to be “union made” while they could probably save money by going to non-union or offshore producers. Would their money be “better spent” on other things, since one can assume the “union vote” is a sure thing?
From my experience working in the low wage arena, there is not a feeling that either party gives a damn about them. They can’t donate $$ to campaigns and let’s face the reality that the minimum wage has not budged since 2009.
There is a vacuum here that the Democrats can take advantage of at the true “grass roots” level.
The party uses union labor whenever possible, whether it be lawn signs or event venues. That is fine and easy enough to do, but I don’t think even the unions have asked us to go sky high in our wage demands for conventions. Even Bernie Sanders is still advocating for $15 per hour as a wage rather than $26.
I’m reminded of an old joke about an exchange between two old Texans:
Billy Bob: “My ranch is so big it takes me three days to drive around the fences.”
JD: “Yup. I had a truck like that once.”
It is a fact that it is hard to live in Massachusetts on very much less than $26/hour. That is a fact of life that most Massachusetts residents are acutely aware of.
It is also a fact that Bernie Sanders advocates for $15/hour — and faces an uphill fight at that.
That disparity is the “vacuum” that I think johntmay is talking about.
JD hears something completely different than what Billy Bob has said — and it’s funny.
The Democratic Party sees something completely different from what most working class Massachusetts residents live every day — and it is not funny.
The only thing that is “sky high” in this picture is the cost of living pretty much anywhere in this state.
I’m not aware of any unions calling for $26 either, and let’s be a little realistic – $26 is quite a jump.
The problem with starting at $15 in negotiations should be obvious.
I completely agree with electing candidates who share our values and am fine with primaries which help determine that, though the party itself can’t take a side in a contest. The party does not choose the candidates; the primary voters do. Once elected we advocate for those who successfully ran with a D after their names to implement the platform.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Announces $52,000 Minimum Salary for Her Congressional StaffSenior staff won’t get more than $80,000 a year.
We need more like her.
I’m curious about how payroll expenses for members of Congress are funded. Do members of Congress receive a stipend from the government to cover these payroll expenses?
I wonder if this is an option for other members of the House and Senate.
Seems there should be some sort of standard throughout the House, albeit with some variation to account for experience.