As I alluded to in last week's blog post, “To Primary, or Not To Primary,” the Massachusetts Democratic Party hosts an annual Democratic State Convention each year, usually early in June. And as I also alluded to last week, getting involved with the State Convention process can be one of the best ways to play a meaningful role in our politics – it gives you an opportunity to make your voice heard on a variety of issues that face our Commonwealth and our nation.
This week, I will focus in on that 'involvement' idea. There are two great ways to be a part of this year's State Convention, and I hope you will take advantage of each of them.
First, some information about this year's Convention: it will be a “Platform Convention,” and it will take place on June 1 at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. What this means is that instead of using this as an opportunity to vote on candidates and determine their eligibility to participate in a primary election, the Delegates to the Convention will be voting on whether or not to accept the Platform of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. A platform is basically a comprehensive guide to a party's or a person's stance on a wide variety of issues. Check out the current copy of the MA Democratic Platform.
The first way to get involved is to play a role in shaping our 2013 Platform. Newton Mayor Setti Warren is the Chair of this year's Platform Committee: he is responsible for working with the Committee to accumulate testimony of interested people and groups from across the state, and turn all of that input into a concise, yet thorough Platform that represents the views of the MA Democratic Party and the people the party represents.
In a statement released earlier this year, Mayor Warren expressed his commitment to opening up the process to as many people as possible. In light of this, there will be dozens of hearings across the state where residents can go and either listen to the testimony of those present or provide their own on issues that concern them. You can also submit written testimony individually by filling out the form provided here. If you are so inclined, however, you can go one step further and host your own platform hearing: all you need is a space and the willingness to spread the word, lead the subsequent discussion, and submit a written version of the testimony from the hearing. Anyone can register a hearing using this form.
The second way to get involved is to run to be a Delegate to the 2013 State Convention. Being a Delegate is a wonderful experience: there are plenty of parties the night before the Convention, there are dozens of great people to meet during the Convention, and there is a lot to reflect on after the Convention. It is an invaluable opportunity to be a part of the politics in this state, and it is a great way to become more engaged with and active within the Democratic Party.
To run to be a delegate, you must be a registered Democrat in your town as of Dec. 31, 2012. If you are, then you can be nominated to serve as a Delegate at your town's Caucus. You can look here to see when your town has scheduled their Caucus, where it will be, and who to contact to get more information. Once at the Caucus, someone must nominate you to be a Delegate, someone must second that nomination, and then you must be voted in as a Delegate by the other Democrats in attendance. You do not need to receive a majority of the votes: if your town has been allocated four male delegates, then the top four vote-getters among the male nominees will serve as the male Delegates from that town.
How do you get people to vote for you as a Delegate? This is by no means an official answer, but personal observation has led me to believe that demonstrating a strong connection to the community and a strong commitment to the Democratic Party are the keys to success when running to be a Delegate. The first time I ran, I spoke briefly about the fact that I am a lifelong resident of Natick, I interned with Sen. Ted Kennedy in high school, and I am (as of then) a new Associate Member of the Natick Democratic Town Committee.
That is pretty much the basics of getting involved with the 2013 State Convention and with the Massachusetts Democratic Party. It is a simple, fun process that can lead to meaningful interaction with your neighbors and your community. I hope that you are able to get involved at some level, as I firmly believe that more voices make our Party and our government better. I also believe that when those voices come together in a positive atmosphere, a lot can get accomplished. Simply put, we are stronger together, and that is why I love seeing new faces every time we gear up for our annual State Convention.