Well, 2017 is done, whew.
It saw a bunch of ups and downs with the nation, state, and the caucus. You already know the challenges the nation and state weathered, but I’d like to share what has happened with the caucus.
We were created, officially, at the February 11th meeting of the SEC (State Executive Committee of the NC Democratic Party) in Rolesville. Our bylaws were accepted and we were chartered as an auxiliary of the party. The interim officers elected the previous September faced the daunting challenge of turning the bylaws into an actual organization. When Jake Quinn, our founding president, moved on in April, that challenge fell to me as interim 1st Vice President, and then as interim President.
We began creating a web suite with built-in tools to organize the caucus, help with communications, and serve as a depository for documents. We started conference calls with the officers to figure out the way forward and lay a groundwork procedure for chartering chapters. There were definitely false starts, but we eventually came up with a system and worked on refining it (a process that continues today).
By the first week in June, the system was set up to the point where membership was operating. Chartering counties took a while longer. The process for forming a chapter is necessarily rigid since we need to ensure it is fair and open. This caused some unavoidable delays. The first three chapters chartered in September, one in October, and two in December. Procedures are still being worked out for when more than one person seeks to organize a chapter, a situation I welcome – the more people actively working to build a chapter, the better. It just means to me that an uninvolved caucus officer must chair the meeting to avoid perceived bias in any vote. At any rate, the necessary organization rules are a burden for the officers and not you.
Our first statewide meeting in August at Raleigh had over forty attendees and held a vote shifting the interim officers a little and created permanent ones. We established committees and started moving the caucus from idea to reality. Over the next couple of months the committees formed: Bylaws to correct and streamline our procedures, Outreach to network with progressives and groups outside the party, Strategy to develop the role of the caucus within the party, and, my favorite, PRLA (Platform, Resolutions, and Legislative Affairs) which is where the caucus fulfills the role of issue advocacy.
PRLA is forming subcommittees on general platform topics. These subcommittees will work to move ideas and suggestions into resolutions to become part of the party platform that ultimately becomes legislation. Instead of putting general “whereas, whereas, therefore” statements out into the wild, alone and untended, PRLA will stay with the idea, help it develop, and help make it happen.
In December, we met again as a caucus at Greensboro. This time we had over seventy attendees and the business of the caucus actually began. We formed some more committees as the specter of fundraising, chapter support, and technology had demonstrated needs for teams rather than individuals. After the meeting, the committees started their face-to-face planning for 2018. For me, that was when the caucus actually began – when the people of the caucus began working together to build a better future.
We have met our goal of 300 members (301 as of this morning) but we have much to do before we can make a difference as a caucus in the party or the elections. We need to build our membership, sure, but more importantly, we need to form chapters across the state, build our skills with the campaign process and in getting our message to the people, the party, and the legislative process, we can build a better, more just society.
Together, we can make this happen.
We are all in this together,
Dave Nelson, President
Progressive Caucus of the NC Democratic Party