I know there are a lot of happy trolls in Tennessee right about now.
Yesterday’s revelation that the newly installed Treasurer of the TNDP had given money in past years to Republican Party organizations, as well as candidates illustrates, in their mind, just one more thing that is wrong with the new leadership at the TNDP. I’m not ready to make that declaration just yet, but I do want some questions answered. Newscoma got that off to a good start this morning.
In the mean time, I used the super internet technology machine to ask for a response from the new chair. Here is his response:
Bill raised and gave over $250,000 to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign (which should speak well enough for itself), served as Mayor Richard Fulton’s treasurer and has contributed over 90% of all he has raised for Democrats in the over 20 years that he has been raising money.
He is a prominent developer in the Southeast and part of doing business is making contributions to both sides of the equation. That is just a fact of business whether we like it or not.
He is fully committed to the Tenn. Democratic Party and will be a huge asset to our efforts. I am confident & pleased that he is our Treasurer.
At this point, some 24 or so hours since I first read about it, I’m a lot less irritated, but still a little disappointed.
Part of my disappointment has to do with the lack of respect the choice showed to supporters of the TNDP and state Democratic candidates. While Freeman’s bona fides may pass the letter of the law, just being bona fide doesn’t necessarily make it right to choose someone who has given money to the GOP in the recent past. At the very least, this should have been disclosed on the front end to get out in front of the “GOTCHA” moment that came Saturday afternoon.
At the same time, I recognize that it’s unfair to penalize someone who, in working to build a business, found it necessary to not alienate himself from one side or the other. This is not something I could do without feeling like I needed to wash myself in tomato juice to get the taint off. However, raising a quarter million dollars for the Obama campaign is a step in the right direction. To be honest, I would like to hear from Freeman himself on his past giving.
Ultimately, this whole scenario is a case of not “taking care of business”. This means that either someone doesn’t have a good understanding of “respecting your constituents”, or they lack the foresight to see the array of consequences, three steps into the future, never mind the obvious conflict of interest.
I think this was a fumble, pure and simple. Happens with new running backs.
The other side of my disappointment is the petty personal junk that is surrounding the whole process of transition at the TNDP. I’ve heard charge after charge about this or that, by people who claim, with no personal attribution, to be so close to Bredeson, or Davis, or Gordon, or Tanner, that they know how they feel about the situation, and have permission to talk about it. No matter how much someone hates the new Chair of the TNDP, it is disrespectful of the people who support the ideals and principles of the party to work so hard to tear it down further over some personal garbage.
This example is willful stupidity, which is far different from the previously mentioned inadvertent stupidity. I don’t think I need to go into much detail about which behavior I think is more destructive.
In the final analysis I think all Tennessee Democrats have learned a lesson. So much of our past system has failed in ways that defy description. The TNDP has spent too long dependent on the national party to maintain the professional staff required in this day and age to keep a strong party organization thriving.
We rely on the whims of the DNC, which has shown a good deal of whimsy since Howard Dean left, to pay for staff members that we should be able to pay for ourselves. This cripples our communication effort throughout the system and makes it harder for people to show the ultimate sign of support, giving.
We have county parties that are either stale, inactive, or a mess. It only takes 5 minutes at an Executive Committee meeting in Shelby Co. to realize how big of a mess they can be(come enjoy the show on the 5th).
We have thousands of people who are interested, untapped reservoirs of energy and activity, who have been turned off by the process of being marginalized by people whose entrenched power in the state and county organizations seeks only one goal, the maintenance of said power at the exclusion of all else.
We have put petty differences over the principles that should bring us together, and built factions to maintain those divisions. The resulting system has accomplished all the things I’ve mentioned above, and yet, seeks to be maintained by those whose ego’s are so fragile that losing a simple election for chair would send them into a panicked diatribe intent on blowing the whole thing up, to perhaps, seem like the savior.
Any reservations I have over the bona fides of the new Treasurer are overshadowed by the self-indulgent divisiveness the party has suffered at the hands of people who have nothing better to do than prop themselves up on the backs of the faithful.
I’m a Democrat. I’m not a Bredesen Democrat, or a Davis Democrat, or even a Cohen Democrat (though I do like him a lot, and am proud he represents me). I AM A DEMOCRAT, PERIOD.
I’m not a Democrat for personalities, I’m a Democrat for ideals.
People are easily swayed by the personalities, but it is the ideals that are the tie that binds us together.
People and candidates come and go, but the principles of the party endures. Parties and the ideals they represent can’t exist without the support of individuals, but no political party is defined by one individual. Parties are defined by the strength of all of their parts; people, principles, ideals, and finally, politicians, in that order and not the other way around.
In order to turn the TNDP around, we have to make this the rule rather than the exception.
I don’t claim to know what specifically is going on at the TNDP. I’m 1600 miles away right now. What I do know is that what we’ve been doing over the past several years is stupid. The longer we neglect the party structure for candidates that don’t respect the party structure, the longer we will marginalize OURSELVES, and by extension, our party. If we have a strong party, we’ll have STRONGER candidates. That’s the moral of the story. And while this current kerfuffle is frustrating, remember November 5th as the day we realized how far we’ve fallen, and say it with me, “Never again”.