Somebody Gets It

I’ve been suffering from the “post-Turkey Day” blues, and a whole lot of stuff to do, so I apologize for the lack of content. Right now I’m in Anaheim, CA, spitting distance from Mickey Mouse, and well, I can honestly say I’d rather be at home, but I can’t be so, it is what it is.

Normally, I wouldn’t get into this right now, my mind when I’m traveling usually has to stay focused on the task at hand, but David Oatney wrote something this morning about one of my posts that really just hit the nail on the head more directly than I did:

However, I do understand from a raw political point of view why Democrats-especially liberal Democrats-do not want to write East Tennessee off. As someone who has been involved in several political campaigns and who has even run for public office himself, I believe it to be an insult to the voters to simply write anyone off.

I couldn’t have, and didn’t say it better myself.

This is the key, in my mind, to a Democratic resurgence in Tennessee. We have to put people out there to represent Democratic values in unfriendly places in order to ultimately get Democrats elected. This won’t be quick or easy. We have a lot of things going against us in East TN, as well as the much of rural TN, but if we act like TN is just Shelby and Davidson Counties, we’re screwed.

This means a lot of things, but mostly it means being ready to work for and support a candidate like Travis Childers in MS to get a D seat. Many West Tennesseans did, and now our bedroom community, North Mississippi, has a Democratic Representative. We need to be willing to do the same in rural TN.

It won’t immediately pay off. In fact, it may not pay off for quite some time, but we have to do something. The way to turning TN blue is not by ignoring districts deemed “too hard” to contest. The way to win is by vigorously contesting those “hard” districts, as well as the soft ones, and that may mean we have to get behind Democrats who may not be the fullest expression of our personal definitions of “Democrats”.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not arguing for pragmatism over principle, I’m arguing against surrender. When we surrender districts we surrender our values to a bully pulpit that ultimately undermines our values. By running someone who represents the Democratic platform, we affirm our values, even if the candidate in question may have certain contrary positions. I would rather have a part-time ally than a consistent adversary. And while I’ve been hard on the Blue Dogs and other groups in the US Congress, I know that without them, we would have no majority to speak of.

The truth of the matter, as Newscoma so often details is that rural America is losing so much so fast. They’re losing jobs and people and the richness of their community to forces that are hard to understand. To add insult to injury, by not contesting the 26 State House seats we left open in the last election they are losing one of the foundations of our Republic, debate. We are duty bound, as Americans, to rectify this situation.

This is my deep thought for the week. As a guy who grew up in rural Arkansas, and moved to the city, once external forces out of our control crippled my hometown, I get it. It is insulting to write off ANYONE. We need everyone, to keep our towns, and cities, and counties, and state, and nation strong. That’s what being a Democrat is all about. That’s what America is all about.

5 thoughts

  1. Good post Vib. We have to remember that rural TN was more progressive than more deep South rural areas back in the day. Unless I miss my guess, some of that populist inclination still exists but I don’t see it being tapped much these days. We are a broad party. There should be a reasonable amount of room for disagreeemnt. I’ve always been an advocate of emphasizing economics first.

    We should also learn from the successful examples. You mentioned Childers in MS. He had a lot of luck with the weaker Republican winning the nomination but also successfully marketed his message to a district that proudly supports TVA, has benefitted from the TN Tom Waterway, and many other government programs. I think we can find more local TN examples as well which the Party will hopefully use as learning tools for 2010 and beyond.

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