Recap of Rule-Breaking, Undemocratic Tactics at the TX Democratic Convention
Fort Worth hosted the Texas Democratic Convention June 21 through June 23 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, and it was nothing short of eventful.
The party broke their own rules when electing the party chair.
Progressives kicked out a right-wing propagandist who was allowed a booth at the convention, the general session was riddled with undemocratic tactics to suppress delegate votes, and there were hardly any workshops on grassroots training. Despite this, progressive wins such as single-payer campaign was added to the state’s party platform.
Full disclosure: I applied for media credentials before I registered as a delegate with voting power, however, I never received a reply about my media credentials. In efforts to make sure I was granted some access and insight into the voting process of the convention, I registered myself as a delegate. Thursday, June 21, was credential registration day and some parties. I arrived super late that day, so I will not be covering June 21 simply because I was not there.
Since there’s a lot to cover, here’s the outline of the article so you can scroll to whatever you want to read first:
- June 23: Russia propaganda workshop and product placement notes, party broke their own rules while voting for party chair, undemocratic tactics used to suppress delegate votes during general session, notes on candidates speeches during general session.
- June 22: notes on booth placements, notes on caucus scheduling, and right-wing propagandist kicked out of convention by progressives.
- Sponsorships: Lockheed Martin is a sponsor even though they give more money to Republicans and profit off war.
- Progressive Wins: Bail reform, reentry, mass incarceration, eliminating private prisons, Healthcare For All (single-payer), clean water as a human right, immigration.
Saturday was kicked off with the Lady Bird Breakfast with committee meetings to follow.
Trainings started at 9:30 and ended at 10:30. There was a lot to choose from, not grassroots training, but still lots to choose from.
I attended the Russian Bots training because who could resist a title like that. You can read my take on the training in the link to the tweet below.
It’s extremely important to note that the Russian propaganda training ended with product placement advertising Swash Labs, a full service advertising agency, and Rogue Metrics, another full service advertising agency. It was their pamphlet that audience members received that outlined Best Practices for Digital Risk Mitigation.
After the 10:30 trainings were finished, “How to become an e-organizer: tools & tips to help us win in 2018 and beyond — Texas Democratic Party” started until the general session began at noon.
The general session started with candidates talking. The main takeaways from the candidates’ speeches was that no one mentioned Fight for 15, the disappearing middle class, or Abolish ICE, however, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee used recorded children’s cries to advocate for keeping families together while being detained.
Congressman Al Green asked everyone who was wearing the US Flag to stand up. Many wearing the US Flag as a shirt, hat, jacket, bandana stood up. It was unsettlingly nationalistic.
The important part of the general session is that this is when delegates vote on party platform, resolutions, and party officials.
The nominations committee nominated current chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, for party chair of the Texas Democratic Party. From the floor, Cedric Davis and Rachel VanOs were nominated for party chair. They did not stand a chance.
First of all, when I went to my delegate seat to vote, Hinojosa’s flyer was on every single delegate seat.
The vote for party chair was done by voice vote, breaking the rules of the party. Per the rules of the party, IV.A.4.d., if there are more than one nominee, the vote needs to be taken by roll call or by written ballot.
In other words, the party broke their own rules for the electing a new party chair. Any change to these rules future use would have been made only in the Rules Report adopted by the convention later in the day well after the party chair, vice chair, and treasurer elections.
This rule was not suspended by vote.
But wait, there’s more undemocratic tactics that were employed.
Carla Brailey ran for party vice chair, and almost didn’t get the seat. Deborah Peoples withdrew her candidacy for party chair in efforts to show party unity. Carla Brailey’s candidate booth was also in the back facing the wall with Our Revolution North Texas.
The problem with the party chair election being a voice vote was that the parliamentarian and the convention chair, Congressman Marc Veasey, could not hear anyone in the back.
On the website it says George Nassar and Rick Cofer are the parliamentarians, but neither of them look like the parliamentarian who did the general session and I didn’t catch his name.
After votes were taken for party officials, resolutions had to be voted on. There was only one mic on the second floor where delegates were also seated.
By the time a delegate was able to get to a mic to discuss the resolution, the resolution would be closed, and the delegate would be scolded by the convention chair. Motions to close debate on resolution were never heard by others in the audience, but the parliamentarian said he heard motions to close from the front row.
If the parliamentarian and convention chair could not hear delegates screaming in the back of the arena, how could they have gotten a proper gauge on a voice vote for elected party chair? This is not what democracy looks like.
There was a motion to dispense the reading and voting of resolutions so delegates could get home, then there was a motion to suspend the reading and adopt all resolutions. Chair Veasey said he heard ayes, even though it sounded equal party ayes and nays, and delegates did not get to vote on 30 resolutions.
Also, the delegates voted on a report of the party platform, but they never voted on the actual platform during the general session. The delegates did not see the party platform.
To top it all off, credentials were not checked before voting. Because it was a voice vote, exhibitors, guests, staff, and anyone else could have joined the voice with the delegates who are supposed to have the voting power.
First thing to note is how much booths were and the placement of booths. Naturally, the booths that have the most traffic are the most expensive spots, leaving grassroots organizations little room to gain traffic.
Democrats for Life (pro-life) was next to Texans for Vaccines Choice (anti-vaxxers).
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was between Texas State Rifle Association and Stars And Stripes Forever which sold Blue Lives Matter shirts. I asked one of the moms at the gun sense booth how they felt about being sandwiched between these two booths. I was told they had some “good conversations” about gun legislation in Texas.
Per Transparency Texas, it looks like the Texas State Rifle Association has only contributed $500 to the Texas Democratic Party over the last three years.
Next up is the school charter booth put on by Texans for Education Opportunities. They contributed $2,500 to the Republican Party of Texas in 2016.
Betsy DeVos, Education Secretary for the Trump administration, thinks charter schools make public schools better.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott rallied for Texas charter schools last year.
This is a Republican issue that Democrats support. Both parties are dismantling Public Education, click here for my interview with a University of St. Thomas professor to learn how.
Right-wing propagandist, Steven Crowder, also had a booth at the Texas Democratic Convention. The booth was reserved under the name Open Minds LLC.
Not too long ago, an Our Revolution Central Texas member had challenged him on social media which resulted in death threats being sent her way.
When Crowder realized she was there, he approached the Our Revolution Texas booth and began to basically harass her at the booth while holding a large printed sign of her face.
Once progressives realized what was happening, there was a mass gathering of progressives loudly chanting “Healthcare is A Human Right” and “Whose Revolution? Our Revolution” until Crowder was ultimately escorted away.
This presented itself as a win because Crowder’s booth was placed in an area of high traffic, whereas you saw above, Our Revolution Texas’ booth was placed facing the wall.
After Crowder was instructed to gather his booth materials and leave, Our Revolution Texas took their booth spot.
Quick notes on the caucus scheduling, note how most of the progressive caucuses are scheduled at the same time. The only progressive caucus that was scheduled earlier in the day of Progressive Hispanic Democrats. The rest of the progressive caucuses were put all together making it difficult for progressives to attend each one.
I attended the Our Revolution Texas Caucus and as Lupe Valdez was walking out she was asked if she would Abolish ICE, she said she was for “abolishing cruelty.”
Listed on the website are the various levels of sponsorship with Diamond being the highest amount at $100,000 and and Friend being the lowest at $1,000.
Most of the perks of sponsorship included VIP tickets to lounge, reception tickets, tickets to Lady Bird Breakfast, booths (with first choice placement), tickets to Elected Official Luncheon, and ads placed in booklet and special recognition during general session.
Diamond sponsor was Congressman Marc Veasey, who happened to be the Texas Democratic Convention Chair.
Platinum sponsors were Beto For Texas and AT&T Company.
Notable Gold sponsors (more listed on website): Lupe Valdez for Governor, Mike Collier for Lt. Governor, Allied Printing & Mailing, Inc., Anheuser-Busch, Quicken Loans, Vistra Energy.
Notable Silver sponsors (more listed on website): Kim Olson For Agriculture Commissioner, Annie’s List, BNSF Railway, Texas Automobile Dealers Association, Texas Realtors Association
Notable Bronze sponsors (more listed on website): Atmos Energy, CenterPoint Energy, CLEAT, Comcast, CWA, General Dynamics;
IBEW Local 60, Julie Johnson, LIUNA, , McDonald’s, Michael Lange;
Oncor, Pipefitters Local Union №211, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 286;
Plumbers Local Union №68, Spectrum, Texas AFT, Texas Building & Construction Trades, Texas Medical Association;
Texas Petition Strategies, Texas Trial Lawyers Association, TSTA;
United Association Local 100, United Auto Workers, United States Postal Service.
It’s important to note Lockheed Martin is a Bronze sponsor, but they are not listed on the website. They have a half-page ad in the booklet given out to people attending the convention and were thanked during the general session as seen below.
Lockheed Martin is a defense supplier, they forecasted higher profits in early 2018 as the Trump administration increased defense spending. They are listed on USA Today’s 10 companies profiting the most from war back in 2013 and they maintain their spot.
It’s important to note this defense corporation profiting off war donates to both parties.
Under criminal justice, bail reform, reentry, mass incarceration, and eliminating private prisons. These focus on ending the practice of sending poor people to jail on the basis that they can’t afford bail or can’t afford fines and court costs; those who have done a non-violent offense or have little or no criminal history; and ending the profit driven private prisons machine.
Under democracy, there is a call to return to paper ballots and restore the federal pre-clearance policies in the Voting Rights Act that were overturned by the Supreme Court.
Single-payer for all was added to the party platform along with access to cleaning water as a human right.
Shutting down fracking wells by 2026 as a goal was set in the party platform.
And as far as immigration, the call to strongly oppose Trump’s “zero tolerance” approach to immigration and the call to treat asylum seekers humanely was added to the party platform.
To see the full party platform, click here.