10/9/21 update on the Fall 2021 DNC meeting:
It's been a long and impactful year for California Democrats. We've advocated for and passed a number of great bills, worked to support the President on the Build Back Better agenda, and successfully smashed the Republican recall attempt. I've continued my writing on these issues at Washington Monthly; advocated on Twitter; contacted legislators; organized locally on county issues; and walked precincts, phonebanked and sent over 70,000 texts to voters against the recall.
But efforts to continue to make our Democratic Party more transparent, accountable and effective also continue apace--both at the state and national level. At the state level, I am remaining active in the effort to ban the California Democratic Party from taking fossil fuel and police union money, so that our fundraising does not tarnish or corrupt our commitments to our goals on social, economic and environmental justice.
The big issue before the DNC at meeting was the election of at-large members to the DNC. These 75 members are crucial in determining the policies that get passed by our National Democratic Party, as they make or break majorities on most votes. Crucially, these members are supposed to be elected to their positions by the body.
Unfortunately, leadership decided to make an end run around the membership by engineering motions to suspend the rules to vote by acclamation on the at-large members, executive committee members and standing committee members. I was proud to vote NO on all of these motions to suspend the rules. Sadly, the NO side lost--but the NO vote was larger than most protest votes in the past. The reformist movement is growing.
The at-large members are supposed to be ELECTED, but no actual election was possible because the opportunity to even submit names for nomination was not available, and the nominations from leadership came at the very last minute. Also, there are at least a few objectionable names on leadership's list.
There was a rebellion brewing among the members over this, so leadership decided it would be safest to line up motions to suspend the rules and vote by acclamation, without any actual yeas or nays from the floor, and with no ability to speak for or against motions.
This is wrong for our party, and for our commitment to democracy. We can and should do better. Thank you for the opportunity to serve on the DNC, and I will continue to try to hold our party accountable to its values while working to elect more and better Democrats up and down the ballot.
1/21/21 update on the Winter 2021 DNC meeting:
For me, the new year didn't truly begin until the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We can all breathe a sigh of relief and take pride in the work we all did to help make this moment possible. But more challenges lie ahead--including at the DNC.
At the Winter meeting of the DNC today we elected a slate of fantastic representatives to lead us, including our new DNC Chair Jaime Harrison. I am excited to work with them toward keeping the White House and expanding our majorities in Congress.
As one of your DNC members, I had the opportunity to cast two votes: 1) to approve the rules governing the election; and 2) on the slate of candidates themselves.
I voted "yes" on the slate of candidates, but "no" on the rules.
When I ran for DNC, I pledged to do whatever I could to reform an institution that all too often does not live up to our expectations of transparency and effectiveness. Unfortunately, DNC members have few opportunities to create policy changes and implement reforms, as most power is held singularly in the hands of the Chair.
As such, the election of new officers and a new Chair presents one of the very few chances for DNC members to make their concerns known and lobby for changes. Sadly, there was little opportunity to do so this year.
In the end, 407 voted for the slate with 4 against. I was one of 15 DNC members to vote against the rules, with 318 voting yes and 11 abstaining. But a movement for reform must start somewhere and I'm proud of the reformers who also voted no on the rules.
It is understandable that everyone on the Biden transition team has had bigger matters on their minds. Even so, the rules that governed the DNC election process were even more restrictive than in the previous cycle: requirements for signatures to appear on the ballot were increased, while the window for campaigning was shortened to a mere three days. Indeed, only one candidate for each leadership position even qualified on the ballot. So there was essentially no contest and no exchange of ideas or proposals.
We all know that DNC elections function more as appointments than actual elections during an incumbent Democratic presidency, out of deference to the White House. Still, if the DNC is to become the organization we all hope it can be, I believe we deserve a more robust and democratic process going forward.
Now, with the DNC election behind us and a great new leadership team, I'm looking forward to mobilizing for Democratic victories in the months and years ahead.
I am grateful to have been elected as one of the DNC members from California for the 2020-2024 term!
The election results can be viewed here. Thank you to all who participated in the election, and especially to everyone who took the time to have speak with me, hear my thoughts and let me know their priorities and concerns. I am deeply appreciative of all those who placed their confidence in me, and thank you so much for your votes, endorsements and support. And thank you also to the DNC members whose terms are coming to a close for their years of dedicated service.
My term on the DNC does not officially begin until the close of this year's Democratic National Convention, but I am already working on the issues I raised during the campaign: transparency, accountability, institutional reform and progressive policy. And I am looking forward to serving in earnest.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or issues you may have, and I am excited to work with all of you to help improve our shared Democratic Party!
My campaign message and platform:
I'm David Atkins, and I'm r to be your next Democratic National Committee (DNC) member from California. I’m running because I believe the DNC must be more transparent and more democratic, and prioritize the values of grassroots Democrats instead of big donors and special interests.
I’m a grassroots activist with a history of progressive reform and a national voice. I want to use my skills, experience and platform to continue the progress we’ve already made to make the DNC more accountable to you—not special interests. I am running to be your voice on the DNC. As your elected DNC member, here’s what I want to accomplish:
In order to win elections everywhere, the DNC must be unafraid to be a progressive party that refuses to compromise on the issues in order to make donors and corporations feel more comfortable. As your DNC member, I promise you that I will always vote to end corporate donations, emphasize Medicare for All, fight to expand affordable housing, and make sure that the existential threat of climate change gets the attention it deserves from party leadership.
Far too many Democrats have no idea what the DNC is, how it works, and how it makes decisions. This is harmful for two reasons: it erodes the trust that grassroots Democrats ought to have in our party leadership, and it prevents our party leadership from being accountable to its activists. As your representative on the DNC, I will work to increase transparency so that you can not only know what the DNC is doing in your name, but also so that you can know how to influence the process and make your voice heard.
For too long, the DNC has been a body that simply rubberstamps the decisions made by the Chair and the inner circles of leadership. The climate change debate issue that came to a head at the 2019 summer meeting in San Francisco shows that this model is in desperate need of change. I will fight to reform the DNC to make sure that grassroots Democrats are guaranteed a seat at the table and have the tools to hold leadership accountable.
I’m proud to make the following reforms key to my campaign platform:
- Democratizing the DNC by giving more decision-making power to the state parties rather than vesting them solely in the Chair
- Reducing the number of appointees by the Chair
- Clean money and small dollar fundraising that treats Californians as partners rather than a fundraising piggybank
- Re-implementing a 50-state strategy that builds our party everywhere, especially red areas in California and across the country
- Transforming the DNC into a vehicle for organizing nationwide, especially in areas often ignored by other national Democratic organizations
- Pushing other states to elect their DNC members in a more democratic fashion
- Running the DNC with transparency and respect for rules of engagement and debate
- Emphasizing fully coordinated campaigns up and down the ballot, uniting our national, state and local efforts to help build our bench across the country
I’m running because I believe I have the experience, vision, and dedication needed to accomplish progressive change on the DNC.
I got involved in the fight to make the Democratic Party more progressive as a volunteer in Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in 2004. In the 15 years since, I haven’t stopped organizing to beat Republicans, support progressive causes, and hold the Democratic Party accountable to its values.
I currently serve as the Region 10 Director for the California Democratic Party, serving Assembly Districts 35, 37, 38 and 44. I’m also a Co-Chair of the CDP Credentials Committee, member of the Ad Hoc Committee on ADEMS, and the South Vice Chair of the Santa Barbara Democratic Central Committee. In addition, I'm a nationally recognized writer for a number of major publications covering both state and federal politics. You can read more about my background and qualifications here.
The DNC election will take place at the 2020 Spring Executive Board Meeting of the California Democratic Party in Visalia. I would love to count on your support and endorsement in this campaign--I'm looking forward to working on your behalf on the DNC, and would love to hear from you with your thoughts and perspectives in the days and weeks ahead!