No matter how messed up something is, no matter how ineffective, my default setting is…“it can be fixed”.
This Saturday, the second part of the SCDP re-organization will happen. On March 26th over 350 faithful Democrats came out to begin the process by electing delegates. This weekend those delegates will vote on who will serve in the 38 seats on the Executive Committee.
It was a tough year for Democrats across the country, and we held our own in the legislative elections, even though, for a bunch of reasons I detailed here we got swept in the countywide elections.
I don’t have a whole lot of criticism of current Chair Van Turner, who inherited a situation where the Committee ballooned from around 40 members to 80 something members. Considering the circumstances I think Van did the best he could. I know he worked his butt off despite the odds, both internally and externally. But as a body, I don’t believe the Shelby County Democratic Party is healthy and I think that’s been clear for some time.
I’m a delegate to the convention this weekend. I doubt that I’ll end up serving on the Executive Committee, mostly because the number of seats in my district is contracting from 6 members to 2. Because of this, there will be a lot of folks who are accustomed to being on the Committee that won’t be.
Many of these folks are probably not too happy about the possibility of not making it on the Committee. There is a mechanism in place to keep it from happening…its called voter turnout. So if you don’t make it on and think you should have, ask yourself where you were during early voting and on election day in November. If you weren’t working to get people to the polls, you know why you’re in this position.
If you are a delegate to the Convention, I ask you to take a look at the current members that represent your district and ask some questions.
1. Of the people in this list, which ones did you hear from in the past 2 years? Any? All? None? If the answer is none, and you’re getting calls now asking you to support them, ask them why they deserve your support when they haven’t bothered to contact you until now.
2. In every Convention that I’ve been involved in since I moved here there has been talk of organizing down to the precinct level, but it hasn’t happened. From my perspective, that’s not the job of the Executive Committee as a whole, but of the members that represent those precincts. Ask them why we haven’t organized down to the precinct level and what they intend to do about it.
3. There have been a lot of divisions in the party for longer than I’ve lived here, and those divisions are a big part of the problem. Ask the prospective member if they’re just for their Democrats, or all Democrats.
4. Communication between the party leaders, including members of the Executive Committee and constituents has been nonexistent despite a wealth of free or cheap means for communicating. Ask your prospective member if they intend to communicate with their constituents, or if they’re going to just disappear after the Chair is selected. After they answer ask them how they intend to communicate with people and when that will be set up. Make them set a date.
5. Finally, ask them if they’ll pledge to support the Chair, no matter who it is, and work to build a stronger party. Ask them if they’re willing to commit 2 years of their lives to support Democratic candidates. Ask them if they will lead their districts in voter registration, GOTV, and other efforts to engage the public.
If they say yes, then ask them how they’re going to do it. Set a date, put a reminder in your calendar, and bug the crap out of them until they do.
If we want a better county party, we have to have a vibrant and active party. That takes time, effort, and demanding accountability, but it can be done…if we will make it happen.