Democratic Club Leadership Does Not Deliver Democracy

In my 42 years as an active voter, I have been at odds with our nation's two party system. So I have always voted my conscience, using a Republican ballot when I last voted. This election year, I joined the Lakewood Democratic Club at their July meeting. I signed the form, paid the fee, and took my seat. I expected that there would be a review process for new members.

In July, they had their annual dinner, so no meeting. But I thought it gave plenty of time to review my status, and let me know where I stood. Something along the line of:  "Welcome to the Club. Just one thing. We have an issue. Fix it or be rejected...." You get the idea. That did not happen. No word of welcome or warning was received by me.

At the August meeting, I saw my name on the roster. When I signed in and picked up my name tag, I had reason to believe that I was a member. 

At that meeting, I witnessed a brouhaha surrounding the move by the Club leaders to force an early vote in August on Democratic Endorsements that are usually scheduled for September. The main issue was whether the email used to announce the change was fair notice because it did not reach all the voting members. Among the topics in the ensuing debate was whether the time and postage for snail mail was worth it if email was not used. In the end, the Endorsement vote was tabled until September.

After that vigorous exchange, I was looking forward to the next meeting. Though I could not vote until my fourth meeting, I was ready to see the Democratic Club in action as it chose the issues and candidates it would endorse for 2016.

I share all of this to explain my surprise when I received an overnight-priority Fed Ex delivery on the day of the September 29th meeting. It contained a letter from the Democratic Club dated the 28th. In brief, it stated that an unnamed person challenged my membership. An unnamed third party went to the Board of Elections where they found an issue with my voting record. It was decided that I do not support Democratic ideals. I was banished from all Dem Club meetings and functions. It was clear that I was prohibited from attending the meeting that night. My fee was refunded. But I was advised that I was allowed to reapply in 2018. If I pulled a Democratic ballot, that is. There was an illegible signature that I later learned belonged to Karoline Isenhardt, the Dem Club President. No other names were given.

I later discovered that there were at least 8 of us who were axed from Dem Club membership for varied excuses. One person has been a member in good standing for 18 months and was just now being told there was an issue. Whatever the reason, the effect was the same. We were all summarily dismissed, purged, from the Club with no opportunity to respond. It soon became clear that we had something in common: we are supporters of the Save Lakewood Hospital group.

You see, the Lakewood Hospital Issue 64 will be on the November ballot. It was one of the items up for endorsement at the Dem Club. Now it is seems obvious that Club leaders have been yanking things around to suit their own agenda. There was nothing Democratic about those letters. In fact, I have the impression that the one who authorized those Fed Ex deliveries has more direct influence on the direction of the Club than the members. It was an autocratic action that bypassed the membership who I believe would have challenged these dismissals, or at least would have required an opportunity to comply. 

After some intervention by Senator Skindell and Representative Antonio, we were allowed into the building. We were not allowed to sign in as a member, only as a guest. I will return the refund check. I will expect my attendance to continue to be counted as I did not do anything to deserve this interruption in my membership. I do not plan to quit the Lakewood Democratic Club. I do not need to be popular but I will be given respect as a voter and a senior citizen.

Though corporations will brag, the American Way is not Big Business. People have been making money for centuries. The Revolutionary thing that caught the attention of the world was how citizens were enabled to decide their future. But we have to demand the truth. And we have to pay attention or we won't know the difference.

The Lakewood Democratic Club can have a great legacy only if we replace the current leadership. I will be voting at the Democratic Club in November.

LESLIE BOYER BASS

playhouse square redcoat, HWR volunteer, member of House Church Network Neo, Vice President of Lakeshore Towers Resident Board, Mother of 3, G-Ma of 7, learning American Sign Language

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Volume 12, Issue 21, Posted 4:56 PM, 10.11.2016