Brewer supports Endorsement Convention

Mark Brewer has an idea:

Brewer told the Free Press he will ask hundreds of top party officials today to call for an “endorsement convention” as a way to give those candidates more months to raise money for their campaigns, and to promote the party’s ticket – whatever that will be.

Those endorsements would virtually assure the candidates’ nomination at the regular state convention during the last weekend of August, Brewer said.

It would be the first time the party has held such a separate convention in an election year to endorse candidates.

This doesn't seem like a bad idea - at first glance. Of course, not knowing the details, we don't know if there's a devil in said details.

Theoretically, the August convention is where delegates to the State Convention (that is, those who are MDP members as of the Convention, usually for at least 30 days beforehand) vote for Democratic nominees for SoS, AG, Education boards, Supreme Court, and (in Presidential years) Electoral College electors. That vote is done on a proportional basis by county and Congressional district; each county gets a certain number of votes, to be divided evenly among the delegates. So, living in Kent County, I might get 1.73 votes, for example, depending on how well Obama did in the county and how many Kentians show up at the convo.

In practice, what usually happens is that there is no contested election for delegates to vote on. There will only be as many candidates as are being nominated, and the Delegates will vote to cast a unanimous ballot for that candidate/those candidates. Whether the field is cleared in a proverbial 'smoke-filled room,' as some suggest, or whether the candidates themselves decide they don't want a 'floor fight,' the August conventions don't usually involve a contested choice for these nominations. (Bowen vs. Williams in 2006 was the last notable one.)

What this 'endorsement convention' idea would do, then, is to ensure that there would almost certainly be no contest at the August convention (except in a special circumstance, i.e. an endorsee dies, gets a serious illness, or - on a much less somber note - goes hiking the Appalachian Trail on Nude Hiking Day).

That makes it more important that the endorsement convention, if it does happen, will be more reflective of what rank-and-file Michigan Democrats want.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about this topic, I'd like to put in a plug for having an MDP convention somewhere outside Detroit and Lansing - in GR, Saginaw, or elsewhere.


A Higher Calling

What follows is a speech that I gave this morning at Central Michigan University's Martin Luther King, Jr., CommUNITY Peace Brunch.

Good morning, everybody! What a powerful testament to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that each of you are willing to come out here on this day off from school or work to celebrate and share in that legacy! Though we are not in class today, I hope you will learn a lot from me and from others who speak this morning. Pay good attention; there will be a quiz on this stuff later!

All kidding aside, as we gather here this morning, we remind ourselves that the legacy of Dr. King does not just focus on one person. We are not merely celebrating the birth of one of our nation’s greatest champions for justice. Rather, today is a call to all of us to bring his character and dedication to bear on our own lives. It is a reminder to dedicate our lives to a higher calling, just as Dr. King did. It is a calling to live a life of responsibility to our fellow humans, to sacrifice for the greater good, and to dedicate ourselves to justice for all.

First and foremost, we are called to responsibility. I’m willing to bet that most of you here today know a thing or two about responsibility. After all, many of us here are leaders in the CMU and Mt. Pleasant communities. Still, all of us need reminders about the importance of responsible citizenship. Indeed, our leadership roles make it even more important that we lead responsible lives; can we expect that those we lead will not take their cues from us?

We are called to foster in ourselves a sense of responsibility – responsibility toward ourselves and toward all of society. Being involved in our communities, lending out that helping hand to someone who needs it, voting, and maintaining proper decorum at all times – these are certainly just a few of the many ways in which each of us can live a life of responsibility. Beyond that, we must also be responsible by ensuring that our minds are open to beautiful new ideas which, if we let them, can change the world.

That sense of responsibility is woven together with another calling. We are called to a sense of sacrifice. This means both that we must recall the sacrifices of others, and that we must make some sacrifices ourselves.

Here in America, when we commemorate such days as Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and September 11 – Patriot Day – we are reminded to pause and reflect on the enormous sacrifice of those who have died in the service of our nation. Today, on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, we recall another life that was cut short all too soon. We would also do well to remember that many civil rights leaders of Dr. King’s era were beaten constantly, while others faced the intensity of fire hoses just because they stood up for people whose skin color did not match those of others.

Each of these should be sobering reminders that the quality of life we enjoy today was not gained for easily. May we always be vigilant to maintain this quality of life!

Fortunately, most of us will not suffer beatings or be forced to give up our lives for the sake of something great. Still, we must all sacrifice to a certain measure. As Gandhi said, "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." A simple sacrifice of time, talent, and treasure is a great place to begin. Maybe you will share a few cans or boxes of food, an article of clothing that you’ve outgrown, or part of your most recent paycheck. Maybe you will give blood or plasma, or join a bone marrow donor registry. Maybe you’ll go on an Alternative Break. Perhaps you might take a few minutes to put together a care package for someone in uniform who is willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our nation, or to personally thank a veteran for their service. Whatever your sacrifice may be, know that others have made far greater sacrifices than you, and that your sacrifice is very much needed.

And finally, we are called to justice. What does that mean? Let me put it to you this way: Is there a human being alive today who is inherently better than any other, or whose decency is founded in the color of their skin, their gender, their physical or mental abilities, or their sexual orientation? Recall, for a moment, this famous line from our Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

And yet, we who are gathered here this morning know that the land in which we live is not one where justice for all reigns supreme. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," warned Dr. King in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. Threats remain to justice throughout our land and throughout the world. Yet what also remains is the power that lies within each of us to bring about a just society for all people. When I say we have a calling to justice, I mean that it is up to each of us to do our part to bring about a more fair, just society. You do not need to be a dean, a manager, or an elected official to change our society. We already have all we need to make that change; it is inside of us. We just need to put it to use.

So on this day off from school or work, we gather together to remind ourselves of lessons that cannot easily be taught in the confines of buildings named Anspach, Grawn, or Brooks. These are the lessons of character, commitment, and selflessness. On this day, let us dedicate our lives to, as Gandhi would put it, being "the change [we] want to see in the world." Let us press toward the mark of the higher calling of our lives – a calling to a life of responsibility, of sacrifice, and of justice. In doing so, let us make every day of our lives a lasting tribute to Dr. King.

Thank you, and enjoy this wonderful day!


Bits of Tid: January 12, 2010

  • It is Universal Letter Writing Week and Cuckoo Dancing Week. Can you celebrate both at the same time? :-)
  • I cannot believe it, but I am beginning my final semester as an undergraduate student at Central Michigan University. It simply does not seem possible that in 116 days, I will be a bachelor in more ways than one!
  • President Obama is getting high marks for his handling of the attempted terror attack on the plane near Detroit.
  • You know, Sarah Palin has been an author, a governor, a TV anchor, a beauty pageant queen, and now she'll be on Fox News. So why doesn't Palin just jump right ahead and become an actress? Oh, wait - she was acting during the 2008 campaign.
  • Dick Cheney has been unfair in his criticism of President Obama; so says Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN).
  • wizardkitten at Blogging for Michigan has both the good news and the bad news surrounding Michigan's economy and state budget.
  • Want to get in touch with top advisors in the White House?
    As the first year of the Obama Administration concludes with the State of the Union, we thought it would be good to sit down with the public and take stock of what we've done over the last year, where we are now, and the tremendous amount of work that remains to bring the change the Americans want and need. That's why every day this week we're going to start the morning with a blog post from one of our top policy people looking over the past year, to be followed up by an online video chat in the afternoon.
    Check out the details here.


DOs and DON'Ts for Progressives in 2010

Happy New Year! That is, if you think the year is still new. Which, in some respects, it is; the Super Bowl hasn't been played yet!

At any rate, what will 2010 be like for Democrats? What will 2010 be like for our communities, Michigan, America, and our world?

Of course, none of us knows for sure. What I do know is that each of us has a part to play in how this year (and the future) turns out. Nothing will happen if all you do is sit back and criticize/praise/comment on Obama, Congress, state or local officials, businesses, the media, etc. Rather, change will happen because people make it happen.

So here are some thoughts on things we as Progressives should and shouldn't do this year. I'm sure you have your own ideas, as well!

DO get involved in your local Democratic Party group or club, if you aren't already. Believe me - our Party needs our progressive voices! Not being involved because of the weakness of the healthcare bill or lack of focus on this issue or that? Big mistake. If you get involved with the Party and progressive Democratic campaigns, you will have a great opportunity to speak out in favor of progressive values. Plus, you will have a good shot at a leadership role within the Party in the future.

DO get involved in your community. You'll do a big favor for yourself - and for those you help! You'll meet new people, make great memories, and make a good name for yourself. All of that will be very important if you ever want to run for office! Serve.gov is a good place to get started. Oh, and speaking of running for office...

DO think about running for office - if not this year, then next year or beyond. Yes, that's right; if you have a chance, maybe it's time for you to consider trying to make a change from inside the system. Keep in mind, running for office is not something you simply decide to do just like that; it's a commitment. You still have four months to decide if you want to run for Congress or state or local office; the filing deadline is May 12. If you don't run for one of those offices, you might want to run for Precinct Delegate; more on that in a few weeks.

DON'T be silent or sit on the sidelines.
What happens when someone isn't involved or doesn't speak their mind? No one listens to them. Decisions are made with out their input. In effect, that person is assenting to the status quo.

DON'T become cynical or give up. Change takes a while! As Paul Wellstone said, "I think the future also will not belong to those who are cynical or those who stand on the sidelines." If that young band of colonists had given up on liberating themselves from tyranny, the USA wouldn't even exist. Thank goodness they didn't give in to cynical attitudes; may you have the same resilience!

We are all human beings - just like Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, the Founding Fathers, the Abolitionists, the Suffragettes, and those who have fought for equality for all human beings. If they can do big things, so can each and every one of us!

So that's my challenge to each of you for 2010 - to make this the most productive, fulfilling year you've ever had. This year can be an amazing year - or it can be a year you'd rather forget. It's up to you and me to make it great!


Running Around the State

  • First, my thoughts on John Cherry: For 27 years - starting with his joining the State House in 1983 - John Cherry has served Michigan with a tireless dedication to public service and commitment to the people of Michigan. He has served with integrity, always willing to work with others, but never willing to sacrifice his principles for the sake of personal gain. For that, I am grateful.

    A number of Democrats are joining the race for Governor. We Democrats are often a spoiled bunch when it comes to good candidates; there are usually so many good people to choose from! I look forward to finding out more about them, possibly meeting one or two, and supporting one in the primary.
  • Joe Dumars and Denise Illitch are two new potential names for the Democratic nomination for governor. Incidentally, this is not the first time I've heard rumors surrounding Illitch; a couple weeks ago, I got a call from a polling firm that asked who I would vote for if the Democratic primary featured John Cherry, Andy Dillon, and Denise Illitch.
  • Try Not to Hurl at the Thought, Part I: Bart Stupak (of Stupak Amendment fame) might also make a run, per The Detroit News. Incidentally, Chase Osborn is the only Yooper ever to serve as Governor.
  • That same article says Dennis Archer, the former Supreme Court Justice and former Detroit mayor, and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano will not run. The News also says Congressman Gary Peters will opt for re-election to Congress.
  • Aside from the race for Governor, do you remember Jane Beckering? She ran for Supreme Court in 2006. Justice Elizabeth Weaver and others have suggested that Beckering might make another run this year. Weaver and Robert Young, both nominated by Republicans for a race that appears on the ballot as non-partisan, are in the final year of their current terms.
  • David LaGrand, is making another run for State Senate in the 29th District (Grand Rapids area). LaGrand came within a few thousand votes of knocking off popular Republican Sen. Bill Hardiman in 2006. That year, Hardiman got 71% of the vote in Kentwood, where he used to be Mayor; Obama won Kentwood two years later.
  • Try Not to Hurl at the Thought, Part II: Looking ahead to 2012, there's speculation that one John Mathias Engler might be looking to challenge Debbie Stabenow for the US Senate that year. He's looking for a home to buy in mid-Michigan. Hey John: There's a foreclosed home down the street from me here in Kentwood, in case you want to know what it's like for ordinary people. At any rate, it does seem to say something about the Republicans if they might be forced to pin their hopes on someone who's been out of the state for much of the past several years and who many Michiganians will have forgotten or not even heard of by then.
  • Try Not to Hurl at the Thought, Part III: You don't know how tempted I was to call this post "Michigan Has the Runs."
  • UPDATE: Michigan Radio says Gov. Granholm has offered some comments on the Governor's race, including that she will not publicly endorse anyone.


Bits of Tid: January 5, 2010

  • Merry 12th Day of Christmas! I don't have 12 drummers drumming for you (or any of the rest, for that matter), but I do have this:

  • You know that stimulus most of the Republicans opposed and complained about? It looks like it has saved more than 30 million people from extreme poverty. I wonder what right-wingers who call themselves Christians would have to say?
  • Even the Washington Post is condemning the attacks on Obama's handling of the attempted plane bombing.
  • Please take just a few minutes to share with Organizing for America your thoughts on where they should take OFA in 2010.
  • From @OMGFacts on Twitter:
    If you put a drop of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death.
    Insert your own joke here.
  • From the inaugural remarks of Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who leads more people than any other openly GLBT mayor in American history:
    "Do not fear to dream big dreams. Bring your whole self to everything you do. Face the world with dignity and integrity. I promise you, the pain is worth the reward."
  • $100 says the Lions don't lose another regular-season game until September.


New Year's Bits of Tid: HAPPY 2010!!

  • I got a New Year's kiss at midnight... from Mom. We've liked to celebrate New Year's Eve together ever since I was in elementary school.
  • Sorry to be such a grouch, but as I write this, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Harry Reid, Carl Levin, Debbie Stabenow, Jennifer Granholm, Andy Dillon, Mike Prusi, and all the other elected Dems have done NOTHING for us THIS ENTIRE DECADE!! They're just like the Republicans in that regard! Why should I vote for them? {/sarcasm}

    Sorry, I couldn't resist. :-D
  • In these economic times, let's be chillaxin' and have a bromance with the 2010 Banished Words List! It's an Obamalicious New Year's tradition that Lake Superior State University's language czars came up with in the 1970s. We could use this as a shovel-ready teachable moment that will surely be too big to fail.
  • Even though we haven't persuaded her to move from Washington to Michigan (yet), many of us admire Darcy Burner for her courage and dedication to progressive ideals. Well, she's got a post on Daily Kos about her resolutions for the new decade. Perhaps you can adopt them for yourself.
  • The bad news: One year from today, Jennifer Granholm will step down as Governor. The good news: Terri Lynn Land, Mike Cox, Mike Bishop, Andy Dillon, and others will also be out of their current offices. May they all be unemployed one year from now!
  • I predict a World Series championship for the Tigers around the middle of this decade - despite losing Granderson. Also, the Lions will win a plaof game before January 1, 2020. You heard it here first.
HAPPY 2010!!!