The Hill: Forged in fire: What the Democratic Party is doing to prepare for 2020
July 18, 2018
By Jim Roosevelt and Lorraine Miller
Last week, Democrats took a bold step toward making our presidential nominating process the most transparent, fair and open in our party’s history. Through new reforms, we are strengthening our party and putting our 2020 nominee in the strongest position to defeat Donald Trump. As co-chairs of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, which is responsible for proposing the rules that our members will vote to adopt in August, we’re proud of these historic reforms and the success they’ll bring us at the ballot box.
This is not about one election or one candidate; this is about the future of our party and how we regain the trust of the voters across the country. The reality is that these new rules are a unifying force within a political party that grows more unified by the day.
As a result of this committee’s work, Democrats are poised to make our caucuses more accessible for voters who have found it difficult to participate — such as shift workers, overseas military personnel, and people with disabilities — by allowing absentee voting. We’re expanding same-day voter and party registration opportunities, opening our doors wider to unaffiliated voters who want to join our Democratic family during the primary process. And we are expanding primaries in states so that more people have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the presidential primary process.
Over the last 10 years, a perceived lack of transparency in our presidential primary process has eroded the trust of voters. Perceptions of undue influence created by the party or its elected leaders in favor of particular candidates has created additional challenges in both primary and general elections. We cannot afford to ignore these issues. We must regain that trust, heal our divisions, and forge ahead as a stronger and more united party than ever before. That’s why our committee changed the nominating process to reduce the influence of unpledged delegates and reform our process to make it more transparent and inclusive.
In 2020, unpledged delegates will no longer be able to cast a vote on the first convention ballot, unless one of the candidates has already secured enough pledged delegates in primaries and caucuses to guarantee their nomination. While unpledged delegates have never overruled the will of the grassroots voters who form the base of our party, this reform eliminates any possibility that it could happen going forward. The new system would also preserve the right of party leaders to express their support for a candidate of their choosing — a right they’ve earned through their dedication to Democratic values.
The Democratic Party, like the country we fight for, is profoundly diverse — even when it comes to intra-party political opinions. But that diversity is not a burden, it’s a strength. And it makes it all the more exciting and satisfying when we successfully come to a consensus over how to best grow our party and serve the will of our members.
These reforms will usher in a new era of transparency and accountability in the highest ranks of Democratic Party politics. They will grow our party and restore trust among many who felt politically homeless. Most importantly, these reforms will strengthen our candidates and put Democrats in position to win up and down the ballot.
All of us working together are reclaiming our title as the party of the people and uniting voters and party leaders around our common values. And we are heading into to the next election with our eyes fixed on the future.
Jim Roosevelt and Lorraine Miller are co-chairs of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee.