Graham C. Parks
Graham C. Parks
Why I'm running.
When Multnomah County first sent me to the State Central Committee in those fraught first months of 2017, at the dawn of our generation’s great test of American democracy’s ultimate durability, earnest talk of the need for “Medicare for all,” student-debt forgiveness, or new New Deals of any sort — green or otherwise — was still enough to mark the advocate as a square-peg radical in the eyes of large swathes of a Party establishment that was, at the time, collectively preoccupied with the struggle to explain the shocking (but entirely predictable) electoral defeat of our anointed 2016 presidential candidate by a singularly transparent charlatan as intellectually and emotionally qualified for the presidency as a pet-shop reptile.
Over the course of the three terms I have had the honor to represent Multnomah County on the SCC (and concurrently represented the Third Congressional District on the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Rules Committee) since those dark first days of Donald Trump’s thankfully transient ascendancy, I have been gratified to see the Democratic Party not just organizing to win and regaining lost ground, but organizing to win — and winning — around some of the very programs and policies my colleagues and I had to fight hard to bring into the Party’s mainstream consciousness as viable, let alone attractive options for Democrats to campaign on just a few short years ago.
But for all the excitement that comes from witnessing salutary ideological shifts, favorable movements of the Overton Window, healing of Great Schisms, etc., those things surprisingly to have very little to do with the duller, but much more important reality of what our party’s State Central Committee is actually for, what its statutorily-granted powers allow it to actually do, and what it actually does (or should do!) in practice: govern, and oversee the activities of the heavily-regulated, high-cash-throughput non-profit entity doing business as the Democratic Party of Oregon, while sitting as its legally-designated board of directors.
“A minor political party or a major political party shall have all the powers granted to a nonprofit corporation under ORS 65.077.” ORS 248.004(1). And so, naturally: “Any member of a governing body of a major or minor political party * * * shall be treated as directors of nonprofit corporations for liability for all matters relating to the political party. If the bylaws of a party designate a central committee, such as a state * * * central committee, as the governing body of the party, then the members of the central committee shall be directors of the party for purposes of this section.” ORS 248.004(4).
The buck stops with us: “The state central committee is the highest party authority in the state and may adopt rules or resolutions for any matter of party government which is not controlled by the laws of this state.” ORS 248.072.
I have made it my continuing mission to be a voice calling the SCC back to its core functions of governance and oversight of the DPO’s staff, structure, and dealings, and away from the sorts of compromises with functional entropy (e.g., offloading oversight functions properly in the domain of a board of directors and therefore of the SCC, onto the DPO’s professional staff, who are in fact the employees whose actions the “board”/SCC is obliged to oversee).