Progress Among Democrats in Virginia

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    The Move To Amend constituency in NOVA played a key role advocating resolutions protesting the Citizens United ruling at the recent 8th and 11th District Democratic conventions. Now we wait for the state convention this Saturday to determine if the grassroots has gained a toehold in the DPVA.

    It would be only a toehold because any resolution presented at the convention will fall short of calling for the constitutional amendment the nonpartisan Move To Amend (MTA) advocates but which members of the State Central Committee and others fear as too radical an objective. There are distinguished opponents of the MTA outside the Party who are aligned with the position of officials like Frank Leone who oppose a constitutional amendment and believe that this injustice can be ameliorated with less extreme measures. It is that kind of entrenched opposition within the DPVA which makes the weaker resolution the only option that could see the light of day this Saturday.

    A resolution protesting the ruling is weak medicine compared to full out support for a constitutional guarantee against corporate abuse of free speech, but it is a step in the right direction for gaining momentum in Virginia. The Virginia MTA supporters are currently courting elected officials in local NOVA jurisdictions with the goal of passing resolutions at the city/county level.

    Mr. Leone, who is not alone objecting to a constitutional amendment, has reportedly stated that, as an attorney, he cannot possibly espouse an opinion that “would mess with” the rights granted by the First Amendment to the Constitution. While this is not a completely unreasonable objection, it does harken back to past efforts to water down or stonewall any initiative within the DPVA which might end up as a resolution passed at a state convention. This is the kind of conflict between what might be personal agenda and the will of the grassroots that has been the bane of Democratic activism.

    The DPVA is historically reticent about advocating anything that might look like a plank much less a platform. There are office holders and legislative assistants (who make a living on incumbency) who prefer the candidates be allowed the freedom to wander off the Democratic ranch in order to preserve their seats. That kind of rudderless and unanchored raft did much to influence the rapidly declining prospects in 2009 and 2011. The opportunity for this resolution to be acted upon at the convention Saturday is a step, albeit small, in the right direction.  

    • cragghines

      For a quick look at Ben Chavis check out this New York Times piece on his ouster from NAACP job:

      http://www.nytimes.com/1994/08

    • Sean

      Dan,

      Actually we were able to get a resolution submitted to the Convention that is nearly identical to the ones passed at the 8th and 11th Congressional District Conventions on May 19.  That resolution calls for an amendment to the Constitution to establish that:

      a. Corporations should not be entitled to the same Constitutional rights in our elections as people and should have only the powers and rights granted to them in state and federal election law; and

      b.  Money is not speech so federal and state governments have the power to fairly regulate, without infringing the freedom of the press, any political contribution or spending.

      That’s not quite everything the Move To Amend amendment would do, but it’s close and I think it’s a big step forward for us.  I’d encourage everyone who supports such a resolution to come to the Convention on Saturday and support its passage.

      Sean Barnett

      11th Congressional District

      Northern Virginia Move to Amend Spokesperson