Membership in the Washtenaw County Democratic Party (WCDP)

Who is a member?

MDP LogoWhile anyone can attend WCDP functions and participate in events or actions it organizes, you become a full member, with voting privileges, by joining the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP). As a member of the MDP you have a vote and a voice in your County Party, in your Congressional District, and at the State level. You can run for a delegate position in the State party, or to be a member of the Executive Boards or Committees of each of these groups.

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What does it cost to join the Michigan Democratic Party?

The lowest annual contribution via online registration is $10. Levels of support increase from there. It is in fact possible to join without contributing, although that requires submission of a membership form by mail. Most people do contribute, though, knowing that they are funding an organization that makes a difference in their lives. The WCDP also depends on contributions to help fund its activities.

Why join the MDP, and the WCDP, anyway?

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As a member of a County Party, you create and sustain an organization that has the potential to influence state and national legislation, to determine who will lead your State Party, and to mobilize voters for elections that will determine much of the shape of our lives.

A dynamic County Party such as ours engages in local grassroots organizing, through the various working groups and committees that it forms. It also has the role of shaping the State Party through the election of delegates to State Conventions, where leadership is determined and resolutions are passed that will help to shape national platforms. Other delegates are elected on a Congressional District basis­–another level of organization.

Democratic Party structures at every level are shaped by the people who join them and then show up to do the work. Tradition plays some role in how things unfold, but most rules and procedures are subject to interpretation and negotiation. Taking the step to officially join the MDP is a measure of your commitment to other members.

A quick explanation of Democratic Party structures, from the top down

  • The Democratic Party is a national organization with a large number of relatively autonomous parts.
  • The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is the entity responsible for running the presidential election. Its members are elected every two years at State Party Conventions (the Spring Congressional District (CD) Convention)
  • The Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) is a statewide entity, independent from every other state-level Democratic Party.
  • It is run by the State Central Committee and an Executive Committee. The State Central Committee is also elected for two years at the Spring CD Convention, where everyone who has registered as a member of the MDP can vote. The voting is organized through Congressional Districts, which choose their representatives to the State Central. The Executive Committee is elected by the State Central, and includes the DNC members.
  • MDP members can organize caucuses around issues that are important to them. If there are enough members, the caucus elects leadership, which participates in the organization and decisions of the MDP. Current active caucuses include the Progressive, Black, Justice, Women’s, Environmental, and Disabilities Caucuses.
  • The Spring CD Convention is where the MDP chooses its nominees for a number of elected positions such as Lieutenant Governor, State Attorney General, and State Supreme Court, and adopts its platform; the Fall CD Convention chooses, as mentioned above, its internal committees as well as the State Chair and two Vice-chairs, and passes resolutions–its position statements on political issues.
  • The MDP has a small professional administrative staff but most of its functions are carried out by volunteers.
  • The Washtenaw County Democratic Party (WCDP) is a County Party.
    • It is run by an Executive Board, all volunteers, headed by a Chair and Vice-Chair. Executive Board members are elected by the Executive Committee just after the November election in even-numbered years for a term of two years.
    • The Executive Board is composed of the heads of a number of standing committees along with the Chair of the WCDP Black Caucus, who do the nitty-gritty work of organizing a small army of dedicated volunteers.
    • Precinct delegates are elected representatives at the precinct level during the August primary election. These are also volunteers, who act as liaisons between their neighborhoods and the Party, and can make a difference by organizing their precincts to increase voter and civic participation.