Wow! This past weekend, March 16-18, after 14 months of the worst of what it means to be an American, I had the chance to experience the best. The occasion was the 2018 Oregon Democratic Party Platform Convention, which I attended as a delegate along with county chair Brian Clark and three other Dems from our county: Lynda Spangler Dusty Rhodes and Bob Lange. The purpose of the convention was to come to agreement on the platform planks and a list of legislative action items. (The planks are the “what;” the legislative action items are the “how.”) The proceedings were pure democracy in action.
The first thing that impressed me was how the proceedings followed strict rules of order: We had motions, proposed amendments to motions, proposed amendments to an amendment, pro and con discussion on each motion or amendment, motions to call the question and votes on those motions, voice votes, standing votes when the voice vote was close, and votes tabulated by county when the standing vote was close. We even voted on motions to suspend the rules on motions.
Whew! The strict rules-governed procedures were a little overwhelming at first, but after a while I could see how they ensured a democratic decision process.
Among the most rewarding parts of the experience for me, personally, were the several times I had the opportunity — and found the courage! — to stand up at the microphone and present my own point of view. I was particularly proud when one of my personal amendments was adopted by the Criminal Justice work group.
But if I have to choose the very best part, it was this: After I stood up to argue against the wording of a particular motion, the convention chair encouraged several of us, representing the pro and con sides, to huddle together to see if we could arrive at consensus. We huddled, we listened, we respected … and found that consensus. Our solution was subsequently validated by the resounding “aye” votes of the convention delegates.
Did I agree with every decision made at the convention? No. There were some majority decisions where I was in the minority. But that’s not the point. The point is the wonderful and empowering democratic (with a small “d”) process that made me so proud and happy to be an American!
–Anita Savio, Delegate