There have been a flurry of posts concerning the ballot printed by the SCDP. While I cannot speak to the specifics of what actually happened, and don’t want to get involved in the speculation or finger pointing, what is clear is that the SCDP, like many other state and local party organizations, is suffering from a crisis of leadership throughout the organization.
Really, it’s a sad state of affairs, and it speaks to why people feel disillusioned with political parties in general. If, for instance, this was the result of an individual bad actor that used their position to push an agenda, then it illustrates why people feel disconnected from and suspicious of political parties. If, as some noted in private conversations, it was the result of an honest mistake or misunderstanding, then it gives people the perception that the party apparatus is either covering it’s ass for the previous hypothetical, or so dysfunctional that they can’t even get one of the most basic jobs it has right, informing the electorate of it’s positions.
I’ve been critical of the Democratic Party apparatus at all levels from time to time. Recently, I haven’t had much to say about the SCDP, because the SCDP hasn’t done anything that I’ve seen. The current Exec. Com. seems to believe that if they don’t do anything no one will criticize them. Maybe they were right, first thing out of the gate and people are screaming bloody murder.
As Brad at WTL and LWC note, there is most certainly something fishy about the whole scene. Even if it was a mistake, at this point it’s going to be a tough sell for Keith Norman to come out at 11:30 and plead incompetence, but that’s probably EXACTLY what he’ll do.
The reality is, perhaps incompetence is really to blame. The party has been stunningly absent throughout the entire campaign. If the SCDP is doing anything, the members of the Exec. Com. are the only ones that know, and many of them don’t even know. By all accounts, the whole County Party apparatus has ground to a halt.
This election season is almost over, so doing anything to make a big change at the SCDP right now seems impractical. Going forward, the members of the Exec. Com. need to think about how the past two years have gone. From the very first meeting of this group back in May of last year (where Richard Fields’ membership was called into question) there has been controversy and strife. Rank and file Democrats need to ask themselves about the role of the party going forward, and ask themselves if the same old people that have been involved for so long, need to stay involved or if there needs to be a top to bottom overhaul.
Personally, I believe that an overhaul is in order and the most important part of this overhaul needs to be communicating to rank and file Democrats in a manner other than back channels. There is a wealth of options out there, if the SCDP is willing to use them. All of the funding challenges that the SCDP was experiencing at the beginning of this term could be dealt with if rank and file Democrats felt engaged in the process, even if that engagement is merely as an audience member (audience meaning, email recipient, or blog reader, etc.). It’s time for the SCDP to take charge of its destiny instead of falling prey to the factionalism and discord that has marked the organization.
Finally, I want to make sure people understand that I respect and admire the individuals who dedicate their time to the local party apparatus. Despite the challenges and the screw-ups many of these people are dedicated to making Shelby County as well as the surrounding areas better. It’s easy to beat these people up on a blog, or in the paper, but the majority of them are really trying to make the party better for everyone. I wish my schedule would permit me to serve along side them on the SCDP Exec. Com., unfortunately, at this point that is not the case.
In any case I hope that Norman can come out today and level with the people of Shelby County. I hope that the Democratic Party apparatus will learn from this mistake and move forward in a positive direction. Most importantly, I hope that in the coming years the many factions that make up the SCDP can unite under a common cause, and realize their potential as a strong and thriving local party organization.