TNDP: Reorg or reboot?

The Tennessee Democratic Party has some rather existential and fundamental questions to answer, and quickly.

What is a political party’s actual purpose? Is it solely to (raise money to) win elections for its nominees, regardless how (or why) they perform once in office?

Is it a bit broader than that, having a goal of advancing legislation that more or less aligns with a commonly held platform, thus relegating elections to “means” status, as opposed to “end”?

Or is it a fully engaged and powerful member of a larger social ecosystem that works at all levels to solve real problems that face all people (not limited to its membership)?

As an outsider, I sometimes get the sense that those in the major political parties’ core operating units (local, state, and national) develop pretty severe tunnel vision. That they, you know the saying, can’t see the forest, or even the trees. I could be wrong. And we’ll deal with the GOP in a different post. For now, let’s talk about Democrats in Tennessee.

Their electoral fortunes have been staggeringly miserable over the past several years. But is that the disease, or just a symptom? Can they blame it all on U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, or President Barack Obama, or the Republicans? Should they look internally to see what dysfunctions might be standing in their way?

A nominating panel just came up with three names to recommend to the State Executive Committee as potential party chairs. Terry Adams, Rep. Gloria Johnson, and Mary Mancini made the cut; Lenda Sherrell did not.

Again, I’m on the outside looking in, but allow yourself to imagine that that very perspective lends someone an ability to troubleshoot root causes and recommend solutions.

Imagine further that a political organization that adopted an “outside-in” view—from the “customer’s” (i.e., citizen’s) perspective, instead of from central office looking outward—could collaborate with ordinary people to refurbish its purpose and vision, use that to craft a strategy for fulfilling that vision, and recruit hordes of eager volunteers (and, yes, donors) to execute that strategy, all the while keeping in close contact with the very public on whom it depends. It could happen.

I don’t have a proverbial dog in the hunt for TNDP chair. What compounds my apathetic stance further is my belief that it may not matter which one of the nominees gets it. The issues facing the SEC and the party at large are systemic; they run to the bone marrow. It would seem shortsighted to lodge all one’s hopes in the belief that a single executive (or even the SEC itself) could engineer a turnaround. To do that, the party actually needs a direction first.

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Hamilton County Republicans mourn longtime leader Harold Coker

Local GOP stalwart and benefactor Harold Coker has died. Hamilton County Republican Party chairman Tony Sanders sent this message to the party’s email list:

It is with great sadness that I send this email out this morning. Harold Coker passed away this morning at 5:30am. Hamilton County has lost a great man and friend to all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lill, Corky and the entire Coker family.

We will let you know details when arrangements have been made.

Sincerely,

Tony Sanders

Coker was a member of the Hamilton County Commission for two decades. In 1988 he unsuccessfully ran for the Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, against Marilyn Lloyd.

Posted in Political News Tagged with: ,

A Page from the book of campaign trail insights

Former long-shot independent U.S. Senate candidate Danny Page sent a thank-you to his supporters that included this tidbit of revelation:

The campaign on the outside looked like a meager attempt to unseat a career politician that needed to be unseated. On the outside it was ludicrous and unfruitful. As humans we look on the outward appearance and I’ll agree that on the outside it was sad. What I happened to be privy to is the inside; the inside fruit that was produced both in my spirit and in hundreds if not thousands of others. Personally I moved from being a hard line “my way or the highway” conservative to an American hell bent but heaven sent to fight for your liberty no matter where you fall on the political scale. I learned full well that America is a land of the free, a bastion of liberty and we must maintain that for future generations. If we choose not to embrace liberty, if we don’t want liberty, we must keep this Republic so that the next generation can make the choice to enjoy liberty for themselves.

(emphasis added)

Page, an electrician by trade, is an example of someone answering the call for ordinary citizens to enter the electoral process. He didn’t come close to winning, but it seems he learned a bit along the way. If he can do it, so can you.

The knock-on effect is that those in Page’s circle of influence might be more apt to examine future election contestants beyond just what’s presented on the surface. If more people sign up as serious participants on the ballot, then that groundswell of informed, critically-thinking voters only grows.

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Turnout for what, indeed

Tennessee can claim to be better than Texas at several things, but this one is a dubious honor: the Volunteer State’s 2014 voter turnout was estimated 49th in the nation by FiveThirtyEight, right behind Mississippi’s and ahead of only Texas’.

The state with the highest anticipated turnout percentage? Maine, followed by Wisconsin and Alaska.

Pith in the Wind has the chart.

The next available chance to redeem ourselves will be sometime in the first quarter of 2016—tentatively March 1st, which is when “Super Tuesday” is likely to occur. (That’s along with, bizarrely enough, the Hamilton County Assessor of Property election. You know that will draw out the voters.)

Let’s do better, shall we?

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Unbeaten Lamar

In case you didn’t see it, here’s video of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s acceptance speech.


Posted in U.S. Senate Elections Tagged with:

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