(The following was provided by Walter Jenny, Jr. as a guide to the resolution writing process for upcoming precinct, county, district and state conventions for the Oklahoma Democratic Party.)
Parliamentary bodies express themselves by adopting resolutions. While a convention’s delegates may have many different opinions, it is only when they resolve those thoughts into a single resolution that the body (by majority vote) speaks with one voice. A body acts through the adoption of a motion. Under parliamentary procedure, a resolution is a main motion that may be amended, tabled or otherwise dealt with by the convention or body.
Resolutions may be simple or complex. A complex resolution may include one or more “Whereas” clauses to make arguments in favor of adoption of the resolution. These clauses make up what is called the preamble. Or, the resolution may be so simple that the resolution just needs to be stated. A preamble should not contain a period, but each paragraph or clause should close with a comma or semicolon, followed by "and," except for the last paragraph of the preamble. A resolution should avoid periods where practicable. The paragraphs of the resolution are often numbered, making it easier for the body to discuss and consider amendments to the resolution.
Resolutions generally either encourage that some specific action should be taken, or they are expressions of the opinions of the body. Below are two resolutions that illustrate the two different kinds of resolutions. They were adopted by the Democratic National Committee Resolutions Committee at its meeting on February 1, 2007.
Resolution Supporting Energy Independence and a Clean, Healthy Environment
WHEREAS, Democrats strongly support measures that promote energy security and a safe, clean environment by reducing our dependence on oil, eliminating billions in tax breaks for big oil companies, and increasing research and development into clean renewable energy and efficiency technologies; and
WHEREAS, energy independence can be achieved by innovation, diversifying energy sources, creating energy efficient products, and promoting conservation measures; and
WHEREAS, energy independence will create a new energy industry that creates jobs and stimulates economic growth; and
WHEREAS, America must have a 21st century transportation system and infrastructure, which includes investments in mass transit, alternative energy technology, and protection of America’s critical infrastructure; and
WHEREAS, President Bush and Republicans in Congress have saddled Americans with record gas prices, dependence on oil and an energy policy written by and for big oil;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Democratic National Committee supports Democratic elected officials in Congress and in states and local communities across the country who are working toward energy independence, security and diversity as well as a safe, clean environment.
Notice that the resolution has three main components:
- a title that simply states what the resolution is about;
- a preamble with one or more clauses that make the argument in favor of the resolution; and
- the resolve, which expresses or “resolves” the view of the body in one or more paragraphs written in a single sentence.
The second resolution, passed by the Democratic National Committee at its meeting on February 3, 2007 is an expression of the views of the body.
Resolution Commending Governor Howard Dean for Instituting the “50 State Strategy” at the DNC
WHEREAS, Governor Howard Dean is Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), duly elected by members of the Democratic National Committee; and
WHEREAS, Governor Dean has implemented a “50 State Strategy” that has been instrumental in helping to ensure State Democratic Parties have the tools, training, and resources needed to win elections up and down the ticket, in all parts of the country; and
WHEREAS, previously too many of our state parties had been neglected by the national party even as Republicans did a far better job of effectively organizing their State parties, and the “50 State Strategy” reversed that trend and provided State Democratic Parties the tools, resources, and infrastructure needed to compete and win races in all parts of the country; and
WHEREAS, the 2006 elections demonstrated that if Democrats show up, stand up for what we believe in and work hard and ask every American for their vote, we can win in any part of the country at every level; and
WHEREAS, the “50 State Strategy” ensured that State Democratic Parties were able to lay the groundwork that enabled Democratic candidates to take advantage of a favorable political climate; and
WHEREAS, thanks in great part to the “50 State Strategy,” Democratic candidates won races up and down the ticket, all across the country that they would not have been able to win, helping take back the U.S. House and Senate, elect a majority of Democratic governors – who now govern states that control 295 electoral votes – and win ten new Democratic majorities in state legislatures;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Association of State Democratic Chairs (ASDC) and the DNC honor and thank Governor Dean for his tireless commitment to State Democratic Parties and the “50 State Strategy,” and for holding himself to the highest ethical standards, and for never retreating from what was right for every Democrat in every state; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the “50 State Strategy” is a long term investment paying immediate dividends and that, as we look toward the future, State Democratic Parties will evaluate and enhance these efforts, to grow our majority and sustain Americans' trust in and support for us; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that DNC and our State Parties will continue working hard to show up and ask for people's votes in every corner of America to ensure Democratic victories next November, to take back the White House in 2008, and to continue to rebuild the Democratic Party for the future.
The body may debate and amend, delete or add any clauses of the preamble or resolves as they see fit. Sometimes if a resolve is deleted, it is appropriate to delete the preamble that related to that paragraph for the final resolution to make any sense. Any amendment must be germane to the subject of the resolution; if it is not, it should be in an entirely separate resolution.
The Resolutions Committee of the State Democratic Party Convention has four tasks:
- To review resolutions proposed to the Convention;
- To propose resolutions on the initiative of the Committee members;
- To revise and draft resolutions, and
- To recommend the adoption of resolutions in its report to the Convention.
ODP Bylaws, Section 9(C). As a result, it is possible that a resolution adopted by a precinct, county or congressional district convention may be changed by the Resolutions Committee, often in an attempt to reach a consensus or middle ground that is more likely to reflect the views of most of the members of the body. But the convention has the final authority to change the language again; it is not bound by the recommendation of the Resolutions Committee.