Saving America: What is a Precinct Meeting?

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A reader asked me to explain what a precinct meeting is, and how it can be used to take back our country.

I haven’t had time to research how this is done in each state. I will write other posts describing each state in detail. But this is the process in Oklahoma.

The two political parties do not get their platforms out of a box of Cracker Jacks. These platforms are voted on by elected party members. Any registered member of a political party can participate in party politics. No one can stop them. All they have to do is begin by going to a precinct meeting.

Here’s how it works in Oklahoma, which is probably not all that different from other states.

Each of the two political parties are divided into territories. These territories fall along state lines. Thus, you have an Oklahoma Democratic or Republican Party, a Texas Democratic or Republican Party, a Michigan Democratic or Republican Party and so on throughout all 50 states. For the purposes of what I asked Public Catholic readers to do yesterday, which is convert the Democratic Party, I’m going to describe the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s process.

State parties are subdivided into territories. In the Oklahoma Democratic Party, these territories fall along the lines of state legislative districts. Thus, the district I represented, District 89, is a district in the Oklahoma Democratic Party, at least for precinct meeting purposes. Each house district is divided into precincts. These precincts are the same ones that the state election board uses to divide voters in order to determine where you go to vote in elections. You can look on your Voter ID card to see your precinct.

Once each year, the Democratic Party (and the Republicans, I might add) hold what are called precinct meetings. Anyone who is a registered member of the Democratic Party can attend the precinct meeting for the precinct in which they reside. These precinct meetings elect officers and vote on resolutions which, if they are passed, will be forwarded to the next step in the process for consideration in becoming part of the party platform. The precinct meeting attendees also elect delegates to the next set of meetings, which are county meetings.

Any one in attendance can introduce resolutions about what should be included in the party platform. Any attendee can be elected a precinct officer or delegate. There is no requirement for having been active in the party previously.

Precinct meetings are usually sparsely attended. Many times, they are held in someone’s home. Other times, there will be district meetings at a union hall in the district or something similar. In areas with really low turnout, several districts may meet together. It does not take much to take over a precinct meeting. You can bring a few friends and family members and sweep it. Precinct meetings take a couple of hours. They are held on a Tuesday evening early in the year.

The delegates who are elected at precinct meetings are then able to attend the county meetings. These are usually much more heavily attended. There may be several hundred people there, and most of them will be party regulars. Members of the Oklahoma House and Senate are automatically delegates to the county and state conventions. These meetings usually take most of a Saturday.

County meetings also elect officers and delegates to the next stage of the process, which is the Statewide convention. At this point, it’s more difficult to get elected a delegate. But it is very do-able if you work together with other pro life Democrats from around the state. If you are a firefighter or police officer or member of another union, you can unite that with your pro life beliefs to gain votes. Ditto for other groups. Also, if we manage to get enough pro life Democrats to show up at precinct meetings, we’ll have the votes at the county meetings to elect pro life delegates to the statewide meeting.

At least in Oklahoma, pro life Democrats are a majority in the rank and file, even though they are almost non-existent among the party regulars. That’s not because the pro choice Democrats have been evil about this. It’s because they were the ones who cared enough to show up at precinct meetings.

County meetings also vote on the resolutions that were passed up from the precinct meetings for inclusion in the party platform. There is a Resolutions Committee that vets these, and also writes resolutions of its own. (This part can get a bit nasty when you’re talking about issues like pro life, which is another reason why we need a lot of pro life Democrats there.) All of these resolutions are voted on by the body at large.

There are a lot of tricks involved in these votes. One of the most common is to hold votes on something that the existing county leadership disagrees with until most people have gone home. Another trick is to use a voice vote to say something has won when it has really lost, or vice versa. At this point, pro life Democrats who are newcomers will need the guidance of someone who is both pro life and an old pro at this stuff. There are quite a few of those people. We just need to work together.

The next step is the statewide convention. This is the meeting at which state officers are elected and the party platform is written and voted on. It is also where Democratic Committeewomen and delegates to the National Democratic Convention which nominates the party’s presidential candidate are elected.

I have not been able to attend an Oklahoma State Democratic Party convention for many years because I have been a pro life Democratic elected official who actually passes pro life bills. I have put pro life first, even when it meant crossing party lines or voting against efforts of the party.

As a Democratic member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, I have always had the legal right to attend. I was an automatic delegate. However, I have been picketed at statewide Democratic Conventions and there was a vote at one of them to censure me by the party for passing a pro life bill. That censure came within 50 votes of passing. I stopped going to these meetings because (a) it was too unpleasant, and (b) my fellow elected officials asked me not to attend because my presence made things too unpleasant for them.

I’m telling you this to give you an idea of how hard core the Oklahoma Democratic party officialdom is in support of abortion. On the other hand, the rank and file is heavily — not exclusively, but certainly a majority — pro life. How did this happen?

It happened because of who attends precinct meetings.

Pro choice people have been working on this party for decades now. They organize and get their people to these meetings. We have lost the Democratic Party to the pro aborts by means of the oldest political truth in the books: Bad politicians (or in this case, bad delegates) are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.

We can turn it around by simply showing up. I mean that. It’s really that easy. It’s a matter of one Tuesday evening and two Saturdays, donated to the pro life cause.

Rose Day: Pro Life Rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol

Yesterday was Rose Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. 

This annual event goes back decades — all the way back to the years when I was a pro choice legislator. I remember how shy the pro life people were when they tip-toed into offices back then. They would hand the legislator a rose and then tip-toe back out.

No one brought me a rose back in those days. I imagine they were afraid of me, even though I was never the sort of pro choice person who argued with pro life people. I was in reality quite gentle about my beliefs, at least outwardly.

But underneath, I was tempered steel.

By the time I got to the legislature, I was a veteran of the abortion wars. I had been the Oklahoma Director for NARAL. I had helped open the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma. I had referred women for abortions. I had made speeches, lobbied United States Senators and Congressmen. All for legal abortion.

However, I can’t ever remember raising my voice to a pro life person. Not once. I can’t remember one time that I ever accosted them or even argued with them that they didn’t force the argument on me.

So, the pro life people who came to Rose Day back in the beginning days of Rose Day would have been quite safe if they had ventured into my office. I would have accepted their rose and been very gentle with them.

I say all this so you’ll know what it means to me today when I stand up with the pro life legislators. I tell you this because I really don’t have words to describe what it means, so I tell you stories from my past in hopes you’ll somehow or other surmise how the words “born again” apply to me and my life.

Yesterday I had the honor of speaking for a brief moment to the assembled crowd in the House chamber. Before that, several pro life women — all of whom have worked for life for decades — asked to have their photo taken with me. Pro life people who have been stalwarts in the fight for life kept coming up to me all morning and thanking me for “what you’ve done.”

Them.

Thanking me.

In truth, I can never thank them enough for accepting me among their ranks, for overlooking all I did in the past and choosing to look only at what I’m trying to do now.

I love Rose Day.

It feels like home.

I took this photo of the Rose Day participants from the podium with my cell phone. I asked them to say “pro life” instead of “cheese.” Every single one of these people is a hero to me.


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