Michigan Democratic Party, Michigan Democrats — February 8, 2017 at 4:50 pm

UPDATED: Chair of the Young Democrats of Michigan shows followers the WRONG way to “take over” the Democratic Party


Early last month, the Michigan Democratic Party State Central Committee (DSCC) met to choose its delegates to the Democratic National Committee [full disclosure: I am a DSCC member]. The afternoon of the meeting, the Chair of the Young Democrats of Michigan Sam Pernick spoke to a group of Senator Sanders and Jill Stein supporters in the hallway outside of the meeting room, telling them that “backroom deals” were being made behind closed doors and “that wasn’t right.” He then led his followers into the meeting chanting “Whose party? OUR Party!”, disrupting the meeting that was already underway. What Pernick didn’t realize was that he was leading the group, not into the DSCC meeting but, rather, into a closed meeting of the MDP Labor Caucus who had the room reserved just prior to the DSCC meeting itself. UAW leader Mike Stone grabbed Pernick by the jacket and pushed him back out the door.

Pernick then proceeded to file charges against Stone which resulted in Stone receiving a ticket. Pernick took to social media to describe the “assault and battery” as a violent attack, blowing it up in an apparent attempt to obscure the fact that he stupidly led dozens of his followers into the wrong meeting.

Here’s video of the event. The group enters the room at around the 7-minute mark:

A supporter of Pernick’s wrote an absurdly inaccurate op-ed for The Observer titled “Michigan Dem Meeting Breaks Into Violence as Clinton Fans Repel Sanders Partisans”. I suppose there are some who consider being pushed out of a room as violence but I am not one of those people. In the piece, the author says that Mike Stone was issued a ticket for “assault and battery”. In truth, Mike Stone was issued a ticket for “Assault-Simple” and the police officer described the situation that occurred in this way:

Subject physically escorted an unwanted protestor out of the room who refused to leave.

Click the image to the right for a larger version of the ticket given to Stone.

The fact is, if you watch the video, you’ll see as much pushing and shoving coming from Pernick and his group as you see from Mike Stone and the other Labor Caucus members trying to get them out of the room where their private meeting was taking place.

Pernick has since dropped his ridiculous charges but would not do so “with prejudice” suggesting that he may come back to file charges again at some later date. My sources who know the judge who oversaw the hearing tell me that this he is quite unlikely to allow Pernick to use the courts to further his own political agenda.

Lena Thompson (aka “Lena Danger”), a self-described “Berniecrat”, participated in the protest led by Pernick and came away pretty upset that the young organizer had basically made them all look like fools. Here are a few of her comments from her piece “So, we marched into a closed-door meeting… and oh by the way, it was the WRONG meeting” and I encourage you to read her entire essay:

Mistakes should be admitted to, not used to mobilize progressives.

Instead, the piper is blaming people and dragging down the whole Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) into the gutter, because he was wrong to march us into a closed-door, Labor Caucus meeting, where he was physically assaulted because of it. And of course, I don’t condone physical violence or unwanted shoving.

During the actual Democratic State Central Committee (DSCC) meeting, the doors were wide OPEN and remained OPEN. If we had marched through that meeting, they may or may not have objected. But we marched into the wrong meeting.

Why can’t the leader of the rally and march, that was supposed to support Keith Ellison, own up to THAT mistake? […]

About that so-called “Backroom Deal”

Here is Sam talking about the 6 people on a piece of paper, that NONE of us can vote for, because we are not DSCC delegates. Only the DSCC delegates are allowed to speak or vote at this meeting. This is part of the rules of the MDP that were sent out before the meeting. Below is an excerpt.

Also, I was nodding along with Sam about the 6 names, but I have done further research about this process. The 6 names were an endorsed slate, by Labor. This is NOT against any rules or bylaws of the MDP. Anyone can seek endorsement from Labor when running for positions inside the MDP. […]

Sam likes to make up rules and hold MPD accountable for a rule(s) that does not exist. I am writing this article to explain the real rules, not the fake rules.

Lena has it entirely right. Sam Pernick may claim that the Democratic Party is HIS party but he doesn’t even know the basic, well-publicized rules about that party and ended up making a fool of himself and of the other people who followed him, believing he had some clue about what he’s doing.

I want to address this idea of “backroom deals” that Pernick and his followers seem to malign so deeply. At the moment, Pernick is working day and night to turn out people to this weekend’s MDP Convention where leadership for the constituency caucuses and Congressional District organizations will be chosen. His goal is to “take over” the MDP by getting his folks elected to leadership positions. He’s lining up candidates (he’s not one of them, by the way, I am told) and he’s lining up votes. This exactly the same sort of thing that Pernick describes as “backroom deals” when people he doesn’t like do it. For most of the rest of us, it’s called “politics”.

The irony in all of this is that Pernick came to me late last year as the Chair of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party to help him get word out about efforts he and other employees of the Ann Arbor People’s Food Co-op were taking to form a union. We supported his efforts and now Sam is going to be a union member. But, at the same time, he’s working double time to make union members sound like goons who fix elections.

UPDATE: After further checking, I realized that I mistook Sam Pernick for another person who organized the Food Co-op workers. I apologize for the error.

Pernick has a LOT to learn about “taking over” a political party. Taking over a political party isn’t done by disruption and protests and temper tantrums. It’s done by learning the rules, working them to your advantage, and getting yourself and people who agree with you into positions of power. It’s a process – called “democracy” – and it can be done. The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party is our most recent example.

And here’s the thing: I support it. If people like Pernick think they have a better way, can organize more effectively, and win more elections, then more power to them. Use the democratic processes laid out in the MDP rules and make it happen. Create change. What you’ll likely find is that you’ll be welcomed. When I took it upon myself to join with like-minded organizers in Washtenaw County to make the County Democratic Party more focused on grassroots organizing, I wasn’t shunned and pushed out. I was welcomed. Six years later I’m the Chair.

THAT is actually what democracy looks like.

When the ACTUAL DSCC meeting took place on December 3rd, not only were Pernick and his group (none of whom was actually a DSCC member) allowed to speak, they were allowed to speak BEFORE the election of DNC members and for a longer period of time than is normally allowed. They were there largely to support Keith Ellison as DNC Chair and large numbers of us, myself included, agree with them. And one of the top Sanders organizer in the state, newly-elected Washtenaw County Commissioner Michelle Deatrick, was overwhelmingly voted to be one of the six DNC delegates. You can watch the meeting on video HERE.

It’s possible to shift the direction of the Democratic Party. It takes effort. It takes coalition building. It takes the formation of relationships. And it requires ideas that can work. What does NOT work are petulant displays of hostility toward the group you’re trying to convince.

If you need a poster child for how NOT to take over the Democratic Party in Michigan or anywhere else, that child is Sam Pernick.

Oh, and one more thing: Thanks to Pernick’s blunder, our true enemies on the conservative right are are having a field day. Nice job, Sam. Way to elevate “YOUR” party.

[CC Facepalm image credit: Cesar Astudillo | Flickr]

  • bfealk

    Chris, thanks for writing this article. I’ve had my own run-in with Sam. He had a Bernie Bash and he made some statements about Brandon Dillon I felt were misleading. The ironic thing, when I asked to speak at the end of the meeting, he refused to let me speak.

    I was engaged in a discussion at the back of the room with some other attendees and he came over and engaged in the discussion by starting out with, “What the hell.” We got into a heated discussion about his tactics, which I wholeheartedly disagree with.

  • Cindy Brief-Tomlinson

    and the division continues, their plan is working

  • Up North Progressive

    I’m fed up with Berniecrats bullying their way into the Democratic party and trying strongarm the rest of us to do their bidding or else. If they want to be part of the party, at least take the time to become familiar with rules and procedures. Telling people lies to get you to support their cause and disrupting meetings is not the way to get people on your side. As a progressive, I am continually disgusted by the activities of Berniecrats, and co-opting the term progressive to bring people over to their cause. Nothing they do is in any way progressive.

    • William Wilson

      Not a Berniecrats are like this Kid.

      • William Carr

        By my estimate, the “BernieorBust” loonies were only 10%.

        But they FERVENTLY believe the conspiracy theories started by the Greens.

        We should have a discussion on this, then present the truth.

        The BorB members won’t learn anything but we may recover the fence-sitters who are confused.

        • Up North Progressive

          Agreed, because I’m still seeing people this far out bitching about Trump but still saying at the same time, “at least we kept Clinton out of office.”

  • William Wilson

    Thanks for doing this write up Chris.

  • Sam was protesting the backroom deals and the inability to vet the DSCC candidates. No one was told who was running and they only had a minute each to speak. That is crazy.

    To be clear, the only mistake Sam made was barging into the WRONG meeting.

    • Floor nominations have been part of the process forever. Changing that policy is possible but if you, Pernick, or anyone else thinks it’s going to change through a disruptive protest, you have a lot to learn. We’re pretty civil in the Democratic Party. We don’t just capitulate to whoever shouts at us the loudest or uses the most clever invective. That, if anything, will make your job MORE difficult, not less.

      The assumption appears to be that floor nominations are done for some nefarious reason but in these situations, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll nearly always find out there’s good reason for a policy. If not, or if you disagree, join the party, get involved, and work to change it. There are so many new folks in the Democratic Party now who are doing just that that it makes this fiasco all the more divisive and diminishing. Pernick did himself and anyone who agrees with him a major disservice. He lost whatever credibility he may have had before this blundering stunt.

      • As I understand it, the candidates that were running weren’t announced until 15 minutes before the vote, and each only had a minute to speak. Are you suggesting that is the standard?

        • Yes. Floor nominations are part of the MDP rules. That’s the way it works. There’s nothing secret about that.

          • Andrew Nowicki

            Why is that okay? There’s talk of asking for the reasons for things before becoming upset. Floor nominations certainly sound corrupt. If there is a good reason for it, that reason needs to be clearly communicated.

          • I don’t know why things are set up that way, to be truthful. To be equally truthful I cannot for the life of me fathom why that is corrupt. There is literally nothing about it that favors one group over another any more than having candidates announce ahead of time would. And the reality is that people who want to run often DO make their intent known ahead of time.

          • Andrew Nowicki

            “Never criticize what you don’t understand” If I am understanding you correctly, you’re upset with a protest without understanding the reason for protesting?

            Floor nominations imply that the voters know the candidates on a personal level as there is literally no time to get to know the candidate and who they are voting for. Are questions asked? What does the candidate stand for? What will they change? Who is this person? What makes them qualified for the position?

            Floor nominations quite literally shut out new members. It also creates the perception that elections are won by gathering personal connections, bribes, or having large inside groups (who know ahead of time you’re running) and all nominate you.

            You could also insert any number of reasons as to why we have campaigns before general elections.

            That all being said, why is announcing ahead of time difficult? Resistance to that question, especially in the harsh wording this article uses, implies that there is a very powerful reason in favor of floor nominations. And when that answer isn’t immediately apparent or communicated, people make their own assumptions. Can you blame them? What’s the solution to this dilemma?

          • But the State Central Committee members who are actually able to vote AREN’T NEW TO THE PARTY. These are people who were chosen two years ago at the statewide convention and have been involved in the party since then. Yes, new people may not know these people but State Central members are more likely to know them because, generally speaking, State Central members have been involved in the Party for a least some period of time, have shown commitment to show up and do stuff on behalf of the Party, and are newcomers who recently showed up and suddenly want to dictate how things are going to be.

            I get that this seems exclusionary but if newcomers start working at the local level (County Party, for example), they can quickly rise into leadership roles and begin to have a real voice in the Party. That seems entirely legit to me whereas the idea that outsiders who have never been involved suddenly get to make major decisions for the Party does not.

            All of this being said, I agree with you that it would be nice for folks who are running to announce their intentions ahead of time. But the fact that they don’t doesn’t make the process “corrupt” as has been insinuated or expressly stated in this thread.

        • William Wilson
        • Have a look at Robert’s Rules of Order on this topic: http://westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/roberts_rules/chap12.html

          “Sometimes called open nominations, this method is probably the most familiar. It’s used in the vast majority of situations in which members elect their officers at a meeting. Your group’s rules and customs determine when floor nominations are accepted. Sometimes nominations aren’t taken until the election is pending, and sometimes they’re taken at other times, such as at a meeting before the election meeting.”

          If you follow the link, it spells out the process, one that is widely used. Until now I have never heard anyone say that it’s inherently corrupt. It is, in fact very, very common inside AND outside of the political realm.

      • Ayman Khafagi

        Protests bring awareness to an issue. This is followed by organizing and eventually changing the rules. We currently have a resolution to review the bylaws line by line and we will pass that resolution eventually. When such rules are eventually changed, historians are going to mark the December 3rd protest as the begining of the end. As for disruptions, I don’t think you know disruptions. You were able to hold your meeting and finish what you were set to do. A successful disruption would have prevented that completely. It is so so sad that a leader in the Democratic Party wouldn’t be familiar with the dynamics of affecting change.

        • Kelly Lindley Collison


        • William Carr

          It’s “sad” that you’re so full of yourself that you simply assume corruption is going on.

          The fugitive rapist Julian Assange attacked the Democratic Party, and a lot of people were fooled.

          The far-Leftists invented conspiracy theories to explain why Bernie didn’t win the Primaries, and they fooled people too.

          Let’s be clear: if you try bullying tactics to shut down meetings you will be stepped on.

          I’ve seen bullies from Chicago try to take over our local Democratic Party; they failed because the Party members just wouldn’t knuckle under to bullies.

          It’s not what YOU want that matters.

          It’s what the voters want, and they want a stronger Democratic Party.

          Achieving that requires we shut down the attacks from morons shouting false claims without evidence.

          Take this petulant rant against Floor Nominations.

          It’s in Robert’s Rules of Order.

          The complaint comes from people who want to walk in and take over.

          They can bite me.

          • Thomas Edward Ford

            Unless you are living in a vacuum, you know and understand that those in control of the MDP will do all they can to maintain that control. One only needs to look at the behavior of the DNC in the last primary campaign to see what happens when those in power are backed into a corner. They cheat, They obfuscate. They misdirect. Because of this and past behavior many people don’t trust the Democratic Party to represent them. Take getting Dark Money out of politics. The Party just can’t seem to come to grips with that one. I wouldn’t normally agree with litmus tests, but getting Dark Money out the election process might be one I could support.

          • Thomas Edward Ford

            I forgot to add that in my opinion, Sam’s behavior was inappropriate. Actions like that only damage the progressive movement. If you are going to disrupt a meeting, make sure you are at the right one at the expense of seeming to be foolish.

    • Up North Progressive

      Exactly what backroom deals were going on? If he wants to be part of a vetting process he needs to follow procedure to do so. Storming any meeting is not the way to do it. That is a bullying tactic.

      • William Carr

        Years ago, the Cass County Democratic Party was invaded by a group of Yellow Dogs from Chicago.

        They tried bullying and intimidation to take over.

        The usual “Union Hall” stuff, or so I’m told.

        A few of us stood up to them.

        And finally when the group refused to vote them in, they moved on.

        Literally, they left the County.

        The leadership had refused to preserve order, though, and I got disgusted enough to quit.

  • Joseph Fournier

    Semantic quibbling over legal definitions, defense of archaic and intrinsically undemocratic rules, and way too much effort spent attacking a diligent and honest young man. It is unseemly for a grown man to smear a fellow Democrat in this way.

    Why not take a note from Michigan for Revolution and spend some time thinking about how we can work together to make the party fair? How about we spend some time thinking about how to better facilitate the influx of young, progressive voices? Think less about yourself and more about the party, please. It’s probably better than clinging to a sinking ship, kicking and screaming, while literal fascists march on DC.

    The party needs to change. Michigan democrats are looking for fairness, transparency, and honest progressive values. This kid is not your enemy, Trump is. We need to work together, and outspoken criticism of our party is a vital part of the process.

    Love and compassion are the way forward.

    • William Carr

      Translation: “roll over and let us have all the power”.

      You make your accusation without factual basis.

      The rules you impugn were written by our Representatives and voted on.

      You don’t LIKE rules that require you to work your way up, right?

      This “diligent and honest” young man is part of a movement to seize power.

      There is no dispute on that.

      Unfortunately we saw the effects of the previous attempt to infiltrate the Democratic Party and seize power.

      He’s on vacation, complaining on Twitter that the Court won’t restore his Muslim Ban.

      You want to recruit young people?


      But you can’t pay them off with promises of a “Revolution”.

      • Joseph Fournier

        We also saw the effects of the establishments refusal to open their doors to young people and progressives… You lost another election. Congratulations.

        • Actually young people came out big doe Sec Clinton.

          • frankenbutt

            You and your facts.

    • ellid

      This kid sounds like a rude little know it all who can’t even find the grace to say, “oops, sorry” when he was wrong. That’s not loving, it’s not compassionate, and it’s a great way to alienate potential allies.

      • Kelly Lindley Collison

        Actually, Sam publically said he went into the wrong meeting (that was in the same hall the meeting we were attempting to go into early was located). Physically shoving people was not acceptable, nor apologized for. We don’t expect it to happen any time soon. Check his interview with Jimmy Doore to hear him actually attempt to even stand up for the Labor leaders that he apparently is trashing according to ridiculous posts like this. Please don’t make decisions on people based on one sided hit-pieces.

  • Levi Tate

    I am new to being involved with politics beyond volunteering for the past three presidential campaigns. After the election, I realized I needed to do more to help our country. At my third meeting with the Oakland County Democratic Party, I brought forth debate on a rule amendment which would require candidates running for the most important positions of power within the MDP to register 60 days in advance, so that their information can be updated to the website, along with any pertinent information about their credentials they may wish to share, 30 days in advance of the biannual conventions.

    With this being the case, democratic debate can be had so that we as Democrats can elect the most competent and most qualified individuals to lead and instruct the grassroots base on the best strategical ways to expend our political energy on the ground to help Democrats win elections. We’re a grassroots party. I’m a root in that grass. We’re hungry, we’re ready. And the principal language of the amendment was supported by the majority of the people there. The chair said she would like to see it pass through and be adopted, and so I would except the formal language to pass through the appropriate channels. The technology aspect is extremely simple. I wanted to wait until after the convention to bring fourth the formal language so that it wouldn’t cause any confusion, so I am going to bring the formal language at the next meeting after the convention. They’ve always been extremely kind and welcoming to me.

    With this in place, that would alleviate some concerns, including some of the things Andrew Nowicki mentioned below. It would simply allow people to know who the most qualified persons for the major positions are in advance, that’s my main concern. I’m new to the convention, and I’d like to know who is running so I can inform myself of who represents what and who will be able to help Democrats win major elections. Which is the goal. From the timing of your article it’s apparent to me that it was designed for maximum political impact. Politics is an fascinating affair. I think it’s important to remember Republicans are the threat, we can’t have this internecine cause poly-suicide. We all need to ally together to slay those who legislate hate, fear, and war. It would be ideal for Michigan For Revolution, the Democratic Party, and the entire spectral left, to form an alliance to stop this evil from proceeding further. From that point, we can evaluate the more subtle details.

  • Ayman Khafagi

    It’s so sad how you reduced all of us to one person. You antagonized me before you met me by assuming we are Sam’s followers. This explains why the MDP failed to accomplish anything in the past 10 years. See you tomorrow but not looking forward to it.

    • That’s absurd. This is a piece about Sam Pernick, not you or anyone else.

      • Ayman Khafagi

        Not absurd at all, you called us Sam’s followers. You referred to us forming a slate. We held at least 15 open well publicized meetings in your county and you never came to meet with progressives in your county. How come you call our work “back room deals”? Every single person who attended our meetings had a say in the process. Sam attended only 2 out of all these meetings. We wrote our platform ourselves out of ideas that came from my living room. You are brining up the incidence of December 3rd just two days before the convention and referring to my group as Sam’s followers and you expect us not to take issue with it??!! We refuse to work our backs off all this time to build a grassroots organization in CD12 in A2, Ypsi, dearborn and downriver, just for you to reduce us to being Sam’s followers. We also refuse to disown Sam for the political action of protesting on December 3rd. So he protested and the jury is still out if it was a poltical mistake or not, get over it and stop villifying him and us. If you really wanted to make it about Sam and Sam only, you wouldn’t have talked about us as Sam’s followers and you wouldn’t have brought up that we formed slates and registered people in the Democratic Party. We did this not Sam and you need to acknowledge this fact unless you like your “alternative facts”

  • Adam Barrington

    One might be shocked to discover, had they not known prior to reading it, that the above was written by somebody committed to battling “the conservative right”. After all, to Chris protest is a ‘blunder’, and the only true way to instigate progress is to learn “rules, working them to your advantage, and getting yourself and people who agree with you into positions of power.” I’d be interested for Chris to name one time in American history where the struggle of the working class was propelled by such tactics. In fact, his suggestions seem to only apply to those with access to resources, and those in positions comfortable and stable enough to wait for sluggish change to drag itself around. One needs only to look at Michigan’s turning into a ‘right-to-work’ state to see how well that rhetoric has been working. Actually, it is worth noting that the Democratic elites, with their friends in high places (people in those “positions of power” about which Chris was talking), are quite comfortable, and so we shouldn’t be surprised that people like Chris are out there telling us to calm down and wait for opportunity to come to us. Well, thanks but no thanks for the garbage advice, Chris. The time for waiting is over, and the time for agitation, organization, and mobilization (oh, how long we’ve waited!) has come. And guess what, Chris? We don’t need, or want, your goddamned permission.

    • The blunder (obviously) was that they barged into a labor caucus meeting thinking it was something that it clearly was not. You’re right: nobody needs my permission to make themselves look foolish. But I don’t need your permission to talk about your foolishness which I WILL do if I think it’s damaging to our cause.

      You may not know this but Sam Pernick has turned off a whole lot of folks who originally supported him. They are afraid to say so publicly because he’s a vindictive bully but I can assure that they have reached out to me after I published this post to corroborate everything I’m saying. Lena was brave enough to say the emperor had no clothes but most others aren’t as brave as her.

      I am a BIG fan of disruptive protests if they serve a purpose. The Black Lives Matter disruption at Netroots Nation when Sen. Sanders spoke is one of them. It was a successful protest because it actually changed the dialog and it desperately needed to be changed. This protest accomplished nothing that moves the ball in a progressive direction no matter what you tell yourselves.

      • Adam Barrington

        YOUR cause, obviously, is not OUR cause. You want to keep a bunch of fat cats fed, be my guest. We’ve got bigger plans.

        • Now you have truly gone off the deep end. Good grief. Pay attention. It’s not like what I do here or in my organizing is in any way a secret.

          • Adam Barrington

            Please, nobody said it was a secret. You’re in no position to wish for anything other than a Clinton so what’s it to you what actual working people need and want? You are interested in keeping the status quo, and that’s why nobody has time for your trash. Good grief, how about YOU pay attention. You’ve obviously no idea of how desperate people are. Stay comfy, Chris. Many of us wish we had such luxury.

          • William Wilson

            I have had my disagreements with Chris over the year’s online, but here is what I’m going to say and what have been saying to both Clinton people and my Follow Bernie people. “It’s not what you say, but how you say it” By and large we all on the Left, Far-Left and Center Left, Agree on what we need to be doing right now. Yes there is problem with-in are own side of working against what should be our sides own interests, But calling it out like this and with how Pernick does nothing but alienate and divide us. The New Democrats have the energy the party needs going forward and they need to use it without stepping people feet in thier passion and Old Guard need to help teach the way things work, and to do it without being condescending.

            All that being said, I was at this Dec 3rd. meeting nothing in this article is wrong from what I saw happen, if anything it leaves out alot, such as Sam’s 4 min rant at people in the room using up a large chunk of the given time to people to speak. Mike Stone then stood and ask for more time to be given for people to talk, even given what happen earlier in the meeting one person here was trying to help bring the party together and one was trying to tear it apart.

        • William Carr

          Paranoid lunacy.

          Typical tactics from those who want to SEIZE power rather than build it.

          Bernie Sanders used the same tactics, from cheating in the Nevada Convention to slandering Hillary Clinton.

          Democrats had power and he wanted it.

          In his arrogance, he claimed she was “too close to Wall Street”…a claim with no foundation but rumor.

          He succeeded in splitting the Democratic Party and suppressing Democratic turnout.

          And enough weak-minded hotheads fell for the propaganda that Trump won….with the help of Director Comey and a fugitive rapist.

          We aren’t going to allow these tactics.

          If you have enthusiasm, fine.

          Join up and run for Party Office.

          Make your voice heard.

          But no internicine attacks.

          You have to EARN power, not demand it be given to you.

      • Liano Sharon


        You wrote:

        “Changing that policy is possible but if you, Pernick, or anyone else thinks it’s going to change through a disruptive protest, you have a lot to learn”

        You said the same in your article:

        “Pernick has a LOT to learn about “taking over” a political party. Taking over a political party isn’t done by disruption and protests and temper tantrums. It’s done by learning the rules, working them to your advantage, and getting yourself and people who agree with you into positions of power. It’s a process – called “democracy” – and it can be done. The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party is our most recent example.”

        Now you say:

        “I am a BIG fan of disruptive protests if they serve a purpose. The Black Lives Matter disruption at Netroots Nation when Sen. Sanders spoke is one of them. It was a successful protest because it actually changed the dialog and it desperately needed to be changed. This protest accomplished nothing that moves the ball in a progressive direction no matter what you tell yourselves.”

        Except lots of people saw that protest that Sam helped organize, on FB and elsewhere in media, and heard about the issues they were raising, and a lot of people thought the protesters were making sense. That’s raising awareness of issues, and the result was people noticed, and showed up to work hard to with each other to do things like bring 9 resolutions specifically addressing transparency and accountability in the MDP – exactly the purpose of that protest on December 3rd.

        The result is, we presented these 9 resolutions to most of the Democratic Party Congressional District Conventions across the state and got many of them approved, submitted to the MDP Convention Rules Committee, which has now written a resolution that the MDP should review the bylaws line by line with special attention to transparency, accountability, and openness.

        The result is, more people joined Michigan for Revolution that would have otherwise, and ~more people joined the MDP~ than would have otherwise.

        The result is, more people are active than would have otherwise been.

        That 3 December protest brought attention to these issues in exactly the way such protests have always worked to bring attention, raise awareness, and drive more people than before to take action.

        But according to you it “accomplished nothing that moves the ball in a progressive direction no matter what you tell yourselves”.

        Really, Chris?

        Those 9 resolutions on transparency and accountability are nothing? Those 500+ new members of your party are nothing?

        Of course that one action on 3 December isn’t responsible for all of that. But it’s responsible for some of it. Just like lots of other actions, big and small, are responsible for building awareness, consciousness, driving engagement, leading to action and participation and change. All little rivulets joining together to form mighty rivers of change.

        That’s how grassroots organizing works.

        That’s how grassroots organizing always works.

        But you say “this protest accomplished nothing that moves the ball in a progressive direction no matter what you tell yourselves”.

        This is what I mean when I say your article and responses to criticism of it raises questions about your understand of and ability to lead a grassroots movement.

        You keep saying things that suggest you don’t understand what leading a grassroots movement means.

        Again, I’m offering this as a friend, not to be caustic, but because I want to win, and I want everyone on the same team – the grassroots team – because that’s the only way we’re going to win.

        I need to know that you get how a grassroots organization works, and how a grassroots organization wins.

        The sequence (often misattributed to Gandhi) is well know:

        First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. Then they fight you. Then you win.

        First you asserted, strongly and repeatedly, that “protest and disruption” are not effective. This was a plea to ignore Sam and “his folks”.

        But then Adam challenged you on that point, suddenly you’re a “BIG fan of disruptive protests”, but that invalidated your whole argument up to that point.

        So you had to add “when they’re effective”, which left you no option but to also assert that the 3 December “protest and disruption” was not effective.

        But that’s flies in the face of the facts, both about that action in particular and about how grassroots “protests and disruptions” build change from tiny streams to big rivers.

        And of course you know it was effective. The fact you wrote this article at all is your blazing admission of it. That fact you posted it the day before the convention just underlines how effective you felt that “protest and disruption” was.

        If it had not been effective, you would have ignored it.

        I don’t point this out to be caustic or disagreeable. I point it out because the fact you wrote this article at all suggests you don’t know the sequence of ignore, ridicule, fight, win – at least, not in application. Nor how the next sequence after that one works.

        We all need a Democratic Party that understands how grassroots movements work and how they win, and a Democratic Party that has the fortitude to fight that way.

        Let me know when we can get together for coffee and talk it through.


  • Liano Sharon


    In your response to Dustin yesterday, you wrote:

    “Changing that policy is possible but if you, Pernick, or anyone else thinks it’s going to change through a disruptive protest, you have a lot to learn”

    You said the same in your article:

    “Pernick has a LOT to learn about “taking over” a political party. Taking over a political party isn’t done by disruption and protests and temper tantrums. It’s done by learning the rules, working them to your advantage, and getting yourself and people who agree with you into positions of power. It’s a process – called “democracy” – and it can be done. The Tea Party takeover of the Republican Party is our most recent example.”

    Since you’ve made this point a centerpiece of your article, and repeated it when answering comments about your article, I feel it’s safe to suppose you think this is a really important and factually correct point – that “disruption and protest” of the existing order isn’t the way to make political change in a democracy. In fact, you disparage and demean “disruption and protest” as “temper tantrums”, and describe “disruption and protest” as contrary to the “process – called “democracy””. You label a person who engages in “protest and disruption” a “child”.

    This is deeply disturbing and disheartening to hear from the leader of a key Democratic Party organization in this day and age. And the reasons have nothing at all to do with Sam, and everything to do with how change happens in our country. Especially big and important change.

    Every major piece of political change in this country has come about through “disruption and protest”. From the revolutionary war itself, to the agitation that preceded the Civil War and eventually ended slavery, to women’s suffrage, to abolishing child labor, unionization, civil rights, women’s rights, and anti-war struggles in the 50s 60s 70s 80s – to name just a few.

    Right now there are hundreds of thousands – in aggregate literally millions – of people going out into the streets “disrupting and protesting” the Trump administration. And Trump and the Republicans complain about it, and disparage these “disruptors and protesters” using your argument exactly.

    You are the elected leader of what Brandon Dillon last Sunday called – and quite correctly as far as I know – the strongest, best organized, and most active county Democratic Party organization in Michigan, one of the key battlegrounds states in the country.

    And you’ve written an article saying that “disruption and protest” isn’t the way to make change. That people should follow the process, because that’s how change happens. And if they engage in “disruption and protest” then they’re just a “child”.

    Gandhi disagrees with you.

    Dr. King disagrees with you.

    Every grassroots leader through history and across the world knows that you’re just ~wrong~.

    Your letter is exactly the attitude of the white moderates Dr. King lamented from his Birmingham jail cell – those who are more devoted to order than to justice, who said “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action” as Dr. King accurately summarized your article half a century before you wrote it.

    Because he was constantly bombarded with exactly your attitude toward political change.

    You’ve been active in the Democratic Party six years, and you’re now the leader of one of the most significant local Democratic Party organizations in the era of the Trump administration. An authoritarian egotistical narcissist is in the White House. He’s appointed unreconstructed racists and white supremacists if not outright neo-nazis, xenophobes, homophobes, and misogynists to positions of great power in our government, holders of the levers of power in our country.

    And they are making your argument about “disruption and protest” to disparage the people marching in the streets, blocking traffic, “disrupting and protesting” the government.

    Aren’t you supposed to be leading those “disruptions and protests”?

    This past Sunday I heard you claim that this is in fact your plan. When you organize a “protest” march through Ann Arbor that “disrupts” traffic and shopping, will you and those you lead be throwing a childish “temper tantrum”?

    According to this article you wrote – yes, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.

    At the end of your article you take a dig at Sam, claiming that because he made a mistake about where a particular meeting was, that our “true enemies” are “having a field day”.

    How much of a “field day” are they going to have when you lead that march in “protest” of the Trump administration that “disrupts” traffic, and they post this article and skewer you for rank hypocrisy?

    How terribly they’ll skewer you if you lead such a march of “protest and disruption” is the least of my concerns.

    My deepest concern here is that you won’t lead any kind of “protest and disruption”, because you’re letter makes it clear you don’t believe in “protest and disruption”. According to your article, “protest and disruption” are “tantrums” and not the way to make real change in a democracy.

    You cannot win a struggle from the grassroots with that attitude.

    If you haven’t learned this from history already, please, let’s go for coffee and talk about it.

    I’m sure many will say, well, but the Democratic Party is different – the Democratic Party is open to change through the democratic process, so there’s no reason to “protest and disrupt”.

    I hope that’s true. It is with such hope that I and others are coming to the MDP Convention tomorrow, running slates and participating in the process you suggest.

    But already in your article, you’re smearing us as being Sam’s group, as people who support “protest and disruption” which you call “temper tantrums” and you call him a hypocrite and smear all the rest of us using guilty by association:

    “At the moment, Pernick is working day and night to turn out people to this weekend’s MDP Convention where leadership for the constituency caucuses and Congressional District organizations will be chosen. His goal is to “take over” the MDP by getting his folks elected to leadership positions. He’s lining up candidates (he’s not one of them, by the way, I am told) and he’s lining up votes. This exactly the same sort of thing that Pernick describes as “backroom deals” when people he doesn’t like do it.”

    First, this is another example of top-down rather than grassroots thinking on your part.

    We’re not “his folks”.
    Each of us is our own person. Many of us – including me – disagree with Sam on many points and issues. And when we disagree, we get together and talk it through, figure out where we can agree, how we can come to compromise, a consensus, and move forward towards our mutual goals.

    And it’s not just Sam who is working hard to turn out people to the convention, lining up candidates, and lining up votes. It’s a lot of us. Laying it all on Sam is denigrating to our cooperative efforts.

    Calling us hypocrites isn’t being open to change. It isn’t being “welcomed” as you suggest in your article we would find in the party.

    Worse, your charge is the farthest thing from the truth. We’re not doing any of this in “backroom deals”. It’s happening in broad daylight in open weekly and even more frequent meetings advertised ahead of time in public on the internet and to everyone we can possibly manage to contact. A lot of that “working day and night” that you mention is actively seeking out people we don’t know yet and doing all we can to get them to join the MDP.

    Just one of the many efforts we supported as a group signed up over 500 new members in just a week or so. Last Sunday you mentioned the MDP grew its membership by 3,500 people since the election. That one effort we worked on is therefore responsible for 15% of that growth. And that’s just one of the efforts we worked on.

    I’ve heard there’s a “unity slate” being put together for the convention tomorrow by long time party leaders. I have no idea who they are specifically, maybe you do. I’ve never seen their advertising inviting me or anyone to even express interest in being on that slate. Where has it been advertised? How many meetings have been called by the “unity slate” organizers for MDP members in the 12th Congressional District – the one you lead, and where I reside and am an MDP member – to discuss who should represent us on the MDP State Central Committee? Were you asked, to be on it or to give your opinion of who should be? If so, why you and not everyone else? Because you’re the chair? Maybe you weren’t asked, I don’t know.

    I’ve yet to receive a single whisper of invitation to be on that slate or even comment about who should be on it.

    In contrast, I’ve been to at least one public meeting a week – and often two – over the past 6 or 8 weeks just in the 12th District where exactly this was openly discussed by anyone who wanted to show up, based on public advertising and active encouragement to get people in the District to participate. The same kind of effort has gone on in over two dozen independently organized groups across Michigan to discuss who they want to run on their slates, who they want to represent their Districts.

    Did I miss the publicity blitz for the “unity slate”? You have my email and phone number. The 12th District Democratic Party that you lead has my email and phone number. I’ve been to several meetings and the District convention.

    Why haven’t I heard from anyone about it? Where has it been publicly advertised or discussed? I’m not saying it’s your or the WCMDP’s job to contact me about a slate someone happens to be putting together. I’m saying, the people putting together the “unity slate” – whoever they are – aren’t advertising it or reaching out to ask who the members of the 12th District (or any other that I’ve heard) want to represent them.

    As far as I can tell, some people who have been in the party a while are choosing who they want to be on the MDP State Central Committee, they’re putting them on the “unity slate”, and no one else is invited.

    That’s a backroom deal.

    That’s politics as usual.

    That’s the kind of practice that makes people feel like the Democratic Party isn’t so open and welcoming, as you claim, and drives people to “protest and disrupt”.

    I’ve spoken to you directly just once, and I walked away quite happy with your answers to my questions, and your openness to putting me in touch with the WCDP group I’m interested in.

    I’m not writing the above to be caustic or to disparage you. I don’t doubt your sincerity in opposing Trump and his administration, nor do I doubt that you want to lead the WCDP in an open and welcoming way.

    I’m writing this because your article demonstrates a way of thinking, a view of the world, that calls into question your ability to do so effectively.

    And I’m hoping we can have a clear and direct conversation about these issues, because I share these goals with you, and I want to do everything I can to ensure we all succeed in achieving them.

    I could well be wrong, but I believe many and perhaps all the members of Michigan for Revolution would 100% agree with what I’ve said here. I’ve certainly heard many – including Sam Pernick – express and act on exactly this sentiment before.

    I look forward to working with you, and I really do hope you’re open to having that coffee I mentioned. Sometime soon.

    In Solidarity,

    Liano Sharon
    Ypsilanti, MI
    Member M4R, WCDP, MDP

    • There is far too much here to respond to in a comment but I’ll say just a couple of things. First, yes, I am completely open to having that coffee we discussed. Second, I do NOT believe that disruptive protests aren’t effective or needed. In fact, I have written extensively on this topic. What I DO believe is that this protest was misguided and unneeded. When the actual meeting started, the doors were wide open and accommodations were made to be sure that everyone’s voice was heard. Then Sam Pernick used up most of the time allotted so they had to extend the time even more. And the suggestion that the comment period be moved to before the votes on DNC members was made by the guy Pernick claimed “assaulted” him.

      I haven’t met with the local progressive group because I have spent the last three months since the election taking care of County Party bureaucratic BS that makes me nutty. But now that I’m coming out from under all of that, I am meeting with groups nearly every night. I literally had seven meetings in the past five days with more to come. And some of the people deeply involved with the groups you reference are actually ON THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE WCDP where they have been welcomed to assume a leadership position.

      If you don’t want to be called a “follower” of Sam Pernick, it would probably be best not to literally follow him into the wrong room protesting something that’s not even taking place. I’ll save the rest for when we meet.

      • I think that Liano and Chris meeting to talk in person is a great idea.

      • Liano Sharon


        You started out conflating me and Ayman and others with Sam. You were called on it. Then you said no no, you didn’t mean that.

        Now if we showed up at a protest he happens to organize, you’re going to call us his “followers”?

        This is again top-down thinking on your part.

        When I join a group, it’s not like I become more like the group – I was already something like the group or I wouldn’t have joined – but I don’t suddenly become tagged like on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom with the group’s marker.

        That’s literally authoritarian thinking – it’s thinking of people like little robots who get reprogrammed any time they join a group.

        This is completely backwards. When I joined M4R, the WCDP, or the MDP, none of those groups downloaded new programming into me. They didn’t make me more like them. They accepted me, and by accepting me effectively downloaded my programming into the group. They became more like me, not the other way around. This is just the obvious direction of information flow. Of course that doesn’t mean the whole group is suddenly reprogrammed. Human networks process information relatively slowly (compared to authoritarian and similar networks). And of course the group doesn’t just accept anything that I download to it, nor do I accept everything that it down loads to me.

        Asserting that joining a group makes you a follower is contrary to the nature and core strength of grassroots organizations, and can easily corrupt them.

        Authoritarian top-down structures enforce assimilation. Grassroots structures accept differences and build consensus around agreements rather than enforcing conformity. When you say things like your last paragraph here, you’re asserting that I’m a drone. Which is both false, and, frankly, insulting.

        But that’s ok. Insults don’t bother me much. What bothers me is the top-down thinking I keep seeing pop up everywhere.


        In Solidarity,


    • William Carr

      The gigantic mistake you made was conflating protest in the public square, and protest inside the Party.

      Protest in the public square works.

      Protest inside a Party doesn’t.

      Ever hear of the Whig Party?

      They had an anti-Slavery faction and a pro-Slavery faction.

      Conflicts don’t get more ….what’s the word?

      Morally absolute?

      Yes, conflicts can’t get more morally absolute than over Slavery.

      The anti-Slavery Whigs blocked the Presidential Nominee of the pro-Slavery faction.


      But that meant there was no Whig Party Candidate that year.

      The Whig Party collapsed.

      It disbanded.

      Progressive Whigs joined a new anti-Slavery Party started by a former Democrat named Amos Tuck.

      The rest….

      They started the Civil War.


      Learn from History.

      Political Parties are run according to Robert’s Rules of Order, not by screaming morons determined to seize power.

      As Thom Hartmann says, look at how the Tea Party took over the Republican Party.

      They came to meetings, ran for Party Office, nominated their Candidates…

      But they didn’t walk in demanding the GOP hand over the reins.

      They followed the rules.

      • Liano Sharon

        There are two key things wrong with your post.

        Protests in the public square can bring down countries.

        Protests within a party can bring down the party.

        Your analogy of “the public square” to “inside the party” is not correct. The analogy would have to be “the country” to “the party” and “the public square” to “the party meeting”. Unfortunately, without mismatching your analogs as you did, your argument disintegrates.

        Protests within ~any structured system~, be it party or country, can result in that system’s collapse.

        You could remove “Whig” from your example and insert any country that fell apart due to domestic protests in the public square. Or any book club that fell apart over some heated disagreement in someone’s living room. All three – Whigs, country that fell apart, and book club – fit exactly the same patter.

        Similarly your assertion that “political parties are run according to Robert’s Rules of Order, not by screaming morons determined to seize power”.

        The United States House and Senate run on Robert’s Rules of Order, and there are millions of people in the streets screaming in protests at those legislative bodies.

        Do you believe ~they~ are all “morons determined to seize power”? Does that mean you won’t be leading or participating in protests against the actions of the US House and Senate? Because they’re “run according to Robert’s Rules of Order”?

        You’re asserting a distinction without evidence of a difference, exactly where it ruins your argument.

        The Tea Party rabble-roused Republican town halls for years – if you’ve been watching the news lately, the talking heads keep mentioning this, comparing what’s happening at Republican town halls now – with even larger crowds in many cases.

        Additionally, we are coming to meetings, nominating our candidates, and getting them elected. There were a number of our candidates we nominated and helped elect to office within the Democratic Party at the Convention today, for example.

        I understand you have a commitment to the Democratic Party.

        So do I.

        But I have a stronger commitment to the truth, through reason, logic, and science.

        And the truth is, rigid structures are much more easily shattered by authoritarianism than flexible ones.

        And I don’t want the Democratic Party shattered any more than it already is. I want it to grow stronger.

        In one of my favorite old movies – _Bad Day at Blackrock_ (1955) there’s a quote that’s stuck with me: “a man is only as big as what will make him mad”.

        Seems to me the same is true of a political party.

        A party that wants to exclude people because they raise their voices when they feel they’re not being heard ~is projecting an image of weakness~, not strength – and at the price of depriving itself of members, friends, and allies.

        I want to change that.

        Because that’s the only way the Democratic Party will start winning again.


  • Brian G Raymond

    Thank-you, there have been years of trying to find people to run against Republicans, or filling enough positions to keep a labor organization entity. As we have seen (and still do) with anti-democrat rule weakening both the party and labor organizations, it very well may be that the accusation of operating in secrecy, is actually the way business has been run over the past couple decades. Where attendance and interest in meetings was pretty much non-existent. Democrats and labor organizations have not flourished through the years, which in turn, causing the leadership to protect their powerful positions. No, quite the opposite, it is most likely that leadership was and still is having a tough time hanging on while facing lower and lower membership numbers and resources.

  • LtUhura

    Well, after reading the article, one thing popped out. The author says, “I suppose there are some who consider being pushed out of a room as violence but I am not one of those people. ” That plus responses below have swayed me to the young Bernibot/crats or whatever they are called. Clearly, there’s some immature selfish old farts against rash young rebels. My gray hair will go with the last group. If the rest of the old farts are represented by Ecloectablog/Chris? then more status quo means less progress.

    • LtUhura

      Oh, and PS, please don’t complain if someone very soon shoves you non-violently.

    • “Ecloectablog”? I have to say, that’s a new one.

  • metronomic1

    Nice hit piece. Keep trying to push the progressives down and your hand is going to get burned, very badly. We are taking the party under our control. You’ve all been warned.