Massachusetts Democrats Back Measures on Voting Reform, Criminal Justice, Climate Justice, and Student Debt Relief

Our Revolution Massachusetts delegates celebrate victory outside Worcester’s DCU Center

Worcester, June 3

Our Revolution Massachusetts (ORMA) delegates pushed the Democratic Party in a progressive direction here today, winning passage of platform amendments on democracy, criminal justice, climate justice, and student loan debt at the Democratic State Convention.

The party declared its support for a ranked choice voting system; making Election Day a state holiday; ensuring incarceration does not impact an individual’s right to vote; the abolition of Massachusetts super delegates; and a nonpartisan commission to draw voting district boundaries.

On criminal justice, the party called for accountability and clear consequences for the use of excessive force and brutality by law enforcement officers; an end to for-profit prisons; and for shifting funds from policing and incarceration to long-term safety strategies such as education, restorative justice, and employment programs.

Democrats declared that Democratic candidates and the party will no longer accept contributions from fossil fuel industry and infrastructure companies, for putting a price on carbon, and for more renewable energy and faster phaseout of carbon emissions.

They also called for forgiveness of student loan debt.

Not all of ORMA’s proposals were adopted.  Its push for new housing policies to end displacement was defeated by delegates who favor building more market-rate housing.

ORMA’s proposals to make the party structure more democratic, by adding more state committee members who are elected by grassroots members and by reducing the number of signatures required to propose amendments to the charter, were also rejected.

The convention chair ruled that ORMA-backed proposals on military and foreign policy, and on peace in the Middle East, were ruled out of order although they clearly had substantial support.  The chair likewise ruled out of order a proposal that Democratic candidates must support the majority of the party platform or face loss of support by the party organization.

Even though the platform was the scheduled business of the convention, party leaders used most of the day to present over four hours of speeches by politicians and others, and only agreed to begin discussion of the platform after delegates repeatedly interrupted speakers by chanting “Vote! Vote!”   As a result of the leadership’s filibuster, a number of submitted resolutions were tabled, scheduled workshops were cancelled, and some delegates had to leave before their issues were voted on.

The convention drew the largest attendance ever for a Democratic Party platform convention, including 1,500 first-time delegates.  With over 750 delegates, ORMA supporters were everywhere at the convention.  They gathered thousands of signatures for 8 platform amendments, 2 charter amendments, and several resolutions.

Our Revolution kicked off the convention with a spirited breakfast sponsored by the Mass AFL-CIO, Mass Nurses Association, Teamsters Local 122, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, SEIU Local 888 and 1199, and many elected officials and progressive groups. State AFL-CIO President Steve Tolman, Rand Wilson of Local 888, State Rep. Mike Connolly, State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, urged breakfast attendees to go home and organize.

A new organized force in Massachusetts politics this year, and a continuation of the Bernie Sanders campaign, ORMA plans a founding convention this fall.  ORMA leaders said they would redouble their commitment to grassroots organizing and pledged to come back next year with an even more formidable group of supporters in order to bring the Democratic party back to its original role as the party of the people, rather than the powerful.

14 thoughts on “Massachusetts Democrats Back Measures on Voting Reform, Criminal Justice, Climate Justice, and Student Debt Relief

  1. Susan Steigerwalt Reply

    congratulations on your energy and dedication!!!! keep it up!!!

  2. Rosemary Kean Reply

    Thank you ORMA. Woohoo!!
    Re the military spending issue, we need to educate and raise up the issue of how the use of our federal tax dollars for the military (not for taking care of vets) severely affects our ability to accomplish our agenda of investing in people through jobs, health care, housing, education, and public transit. Massachusetts is not an island. We have to rein in military spending for so many reasons, including its destructive effect on climate and the environment and the abuse of our military (and our tax dollars) to exploit resources and people around the world for corporate profit.

  3. Zion-I Reply

    It should be noted that the Middle East/World amendments were ruled out on invalid grounds, and that the chair(s) were clearly determined not to let the motions even get to the floor. They said that federal issues can’t be discussed in the state platform despite a) *other* federal issues have been discussed in this and prior platforms and b) it’s kind of weaksauce to make that claim when we’d heard speeches from U.S. senators and representatives who should be expected to follow the platform as well.

  4. Zion I Reply

    It should be noted that the Middle East/World amendments were ruled out on invalid grounds, and that the chair(s) were clearly determined not to let the motions even get to the floor. They said that federal issues can’t be discussed in the state platform despite a) *other* federal issues have been discussed in this and prior platforms and b) it’s kind of weaksauce to make that claim when we’d heard speeches from U.S. senators and representatives who should be expected to follow the platform as well.

  5. Jim DeSimone Reply

    We’re all in this together…hope to see u today 3-5 at 13 Common St. In Natick behind the common for important OR meeting…

  6. Beth Garry Reply

    Need more support 4 low-income housing and rent control.

  7. Heather Clark Reply

    Where’s single payer/Medicare for All? There are bills in Committee in Massachusetts right now; Massachusetts Democrats could move this agenda forward without delay. I don’t see this mentioned in he list of priorities. ???

  8. Joe Kurland Reply

    My first time as a convention delegate and a great learning experience. We need to push for being able to amend amendments from the floor as we do at school committee meetings and town meetings. Failing that, we need to be very careful in how we write amendments so that one bullet point doesn’t drag down the whole amendment as happened with housing. Avoid packing too many bullet points in one amendment.

    But I am pleased with how much we DID accomplish. Thank you to the ORMA volunteers and coordinators.

  9. Joe Kurland Reply

    One more thing: I was, as were many, disappointed that we never got to vote on resolutions. The speeches went on much longer than scheduled and, though good sentiments were expressed, it became very repetitious. People started chanting, vote, vote, vote… One wonders if the delay in voting was because of the number of items for which signatures needed to be checked or if the delay was an effort to wait out the time limit so resolutions would not be considered. Can we get the texts of all those resolutions so we can lobby the party leaders on them?

  10. Robert Long Reply

    The 4 hours of political speeches were completely unnecessary. This was nothing more than free advertising for the candidates, limiting proper time to propose and evaluate the amendments. How can a busy working person (is this not who the democrats call themselves the party of?) , sit at the convention for 12 hours, and carefully evaluate and vote on critical (and sometimes complex) amendments. This is just insane! Not sure if party leaders did this on purpose, to limit the amendments, but that was the net result. This must be changed next time. The state party officials need more grassroots involvement and positions filled by working people (not lawyers or career politicians) who can move forward the progressive agenda of Bernie Sanders. Job creation (and supporting small businesses in MA) needs to be a major part of the Democratic platform, and not just government jobs! The Republicans are killing the Democratic party on supporting job creation and business in general. Democrats have been losing big time to the Republicans, at the state and national level, on this issue. This includes Massachusetts. I feel as if the MA dems have their heads in the sand on this issue. We need to wake up and be a party for businesses, instead of just talking about it. If not, 12 states with Democrat governors will keep dwindling to 10 or 8, the next election. The governor cannot be beat, if this does not happen….period.

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