By Jennie Lusk
Democratic Party policy is Brendan O’Reilly’s belief system. It’s his religion. And his religious zeal for Democratic Party politics drives his passion for chairing the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County (DPBC) Resolutions Committee.
O’Reilly describes himself as a Humphrey liberal, affirming his political alliance with LBJ’s progressive, reform-minded vice president, who championed the Democratic Party’s civil rights plank 20 years before running for president in 1968, and noting that plenty of good Democrats see Humphrey as a positive model in the 21st century.
Despite his own progressive bent, though, O’Reilly recognizes that his role as chair of the Resolutions Committee requires him to welcome and include even more conservative party members. His primary goal, he said recently, is to ensure that all voices are included in shaping the DPBC through resolutions that ultimately create the party platform.
“The Resolutions Committee defines why we’re Democrats. It’s where we build democracy,” the Ruidoso native said. “People have ideas they want to see become policy, and through the Resolutions Committee, we vet the ideas,” giving other Democrats a chance to consider, support or reject the ideas that ultimately may be incorporated into the state party platform.
O’Reilly, son of DPBC stalwarts and activists Mel and Monica O’Reilly, is a lawyer who worked at the White House in the Clinton-Gore administration—a position that allowed him to meet with John Lewis, Jesse Jackson and Barbara Jordan and other politicians who put their lives and their beliefs on the line to ensure voting, good government, and equal representation at the national level. Their influence and the influence of his parents persists as he seeks input and help on the Resolutions Committee.
“When people ask why you’re a Democrat, you should be able to answer based on a clear and cohesive platform,” O’Reilly said. The platform contains statements on fundamental values and significant policies that shape the traditional and the current agenda. O’Reilly predicts that resolutions will be submitted this year on energy, the environment, affirmative action, LGBTQ issues and police reform.
The Resolutions Committee is built from the most local level up, as are all DPBC committees. Each of the county’s 64 wards is eligible to elect a Resolutions Committee member, and currently 53 of them have done so. Wards vote on resolutions that, when passed, can be referred to the County Central Committee (CCC). Collectively, the Resolutions Committee can also generate ideas and press them at the CCC; further, Resolutions Committee members can also assemble separate resolutions on a single theme into one overarching policy recommendation.
Ideas may come to the committee casually, as post-it notes as frequently as fully formed, formal policy proposals. Members of the Resolutions Committee conform one and all to the proper format after working with those who proposed them for clarity, when needed.
“My goal is to help create strong resolutions that demonstrate strong Democratic values,” O’Reilly continued. “Resolutions define the party and help us champion Democratic values.” He knows that broadening the base of the committee will strengthen the underpinning of the party.
O’Reilly plans to visit every ward that will add him to its agenda, fostering involvement in the continuing process for crafting and approving resolutions that ultimately build the party platform. He has set the first 2021 meeting of the Resolutions Committee for 6 p.m. June 13, 2021. Links and details are to come in The Blue Review.
Since the Resolutions Committee is shaped by elections and appointments at the ward level, the best way for those not already active at the precinct and ward level is to contact O’Reilly directly to suggest ideas.He welcomes ideas and involvement from anyone who wants to strengthen the Party. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (505) 255-1597.