With a little over 15 months to the November 2014 general election, the discussion has turned to statewide races. University of Memphis College Democrats President Charles Uffelman took to this site last week and suggested House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, who had at one time mentioned the prospect. Earlier this week he declined the offer.
Then on Wednesday, Newscoma asked the question, “Who will be the Democratic Nominee for Governor?”
That’s a question I’d like an answer to as well.
She also had some advice for stakeholders both inside and outside of the party.
They should all carefully consider that advice, though if past is prologue, they won’t.
2013 isn’t anything like 2009 anything like last time.
Around this time in 2009 we had at least 4, if not 5 candidates in the mix (Mike McWherter, Ward Cammack, Kim McMillan, Roy Herron, and Jim Kyle). Four of them would eventually drop out for their own reasons, but at least we had some names. Right now, I couldn’t name someone who was even considering it.
Yesterday, Sen. Jim Kyle is quoted in a Knoxville paper saying that it wouldn’t be bad if no one ran. Here’s the quote:
“I do not feel that the Democratic Party is damaged by not fielding a major candidate,” said Kyle, noting that Republicans — when they were the state’s minority party — often went through elections without seriously challenging incumbent Democrats.
He conceded that the party faced “an unpleasant situation” in 2012 when the U.S. Senate nomination was won by Mark Clayton, who was subsequently disavowed by the party for “extremist views.” The party has since set up a new candidate vetting operation that is supposed to keep such people off the primary ballot.
But Democrats would be just as well off without a candidate as someone who is “just a name on the ballot,” Kyle said and accepting the present state of affairs as “just part of the ins and outs of Tennessee politics.”
Now, I think I get what Kyle is saying here. In some ways, not having a candidate would keep people from thinking about the fact that they never heard of him, assuming said candidate didn’t have the wherewithal to field much of a campaign outside of Democratic strongholds.
But the reality is, practice becomes habit, and there are lots of practices that I’ve seen over the past 5+ years in state Democratic politics that are alarming. I’m not even talking about the major players here.
We have to stop waiting for someone, be it the TNDP, the Caucuses, the County Parties or anyone else to swoop in and save us. It isn’t happening.
Its time for regular people to stop fretting about it, and start acting on it.
As for those institutions, I’ve said about all I have to say about them over and over in the past several years. The short story on them is, most of them are too wrapped up in their own self interest to do what needs to be done for the state.
We have to relearn everything
Rome didn’t fall in a day, and neither did the Tennessee Democratic majority. It took a long time. Folks point to the 2002 Income Tax thing as the beginning of the end. Honestly, that was closer to the end of the end.
That failure, showed a weakness in the party. A weakness of message. A weakness of resolve. A lack of focus.
The state GOP has exploited that weakness, and the fear of reprisals since, and have used it to their advantage.
We have’t seen the end of the end yet. The end of the end won’t hit until we start really picking up the pieces. Right now, we’re still looking at them and wondering what happened.
We’re looking at the house we once had, that got neglected, and that we allowed through that neglect to be dismantled piece by piece over a long period of time.
It didn’t start in 2008, that’s just when we noticed the roof was gone. It didn’t end in 2012. If it had, we’d be laying the foundation for 2014 and beyond.
To even get started on that foundation, we have to be willing to relearn everything.
We have to learn how to build a modern foundation. The one we built in the 19th century held up for a long time, but we never reinforced it with modern building techniques…and it broke.
There are still some folks, standing on what’s left of that old floor, saying, “look, its fine, it still works.”
We just need to slap tin foil hats on their heads, and smile and nod. They’re fooling themselves. The whole damn thing needs to be re-thought, and rebuilt.
This can’t and won’t be done by most of the folks that let it decay around them. It has to be fresh blood. We have to raise an army of people to help rebuild this house. It has to be built differently.
We NEED a candidate
We don’t need happy talk, haikus or flowery bullshit, we need real talk.
We need real talk about our party’s finances, which are in the toilet according to recent FEC filings.
We need real talk about the race for mediocrity that puts incumbency protection above gaining ground…like holding on to that last little patch of floor is really doing anything.
We need to hammer a Governor that has more ongoing scandals than I have fingers and toes because that message IS NOT GETTING OUT AT ALL. Almost no one here in Memphis has reported on it, and when they do, it’s a passing glance. If folks in the biggest County in the state don’t know about it, you can be sure the majority of folks in rural areas, that have far fewer media outlets than Memphis aren’t hearing about it either.
We need to MOCK the Governor’s repeated refrain of the Tennessee Economic Miracle. Guess what, it’s a lie. As of last month 260,000+ people were without jobs in Tennessee, and that number stands to go up as more hospitals scale back operations in rural areas thanks to the Governor’s insistence on balking at Medicaid expansion. 21,000 jobs on the line. Unemployment will be closer to 9.2% if those jobs go away.
But most of all, we need someone, man or woman, out there talking about these things. Challenging the Governor’s lack of disclosure. Calling him out on his crony capitalist model, and telling the people of Tennessee how it can be better if we stop sitting back and letting another rich guy that never missed a meal in his life, “fix things for us”…which really means rig the game for his friends personal profit.
We need fire. We need backbone. We need someone with a strong voice to deliver that message.
With a couple of exceptions, it ain’t any of the usual suspects. They’re too busy being scared.
We don’t have time to wait for someone to save us. Right now, there’s no reason to believe they’re coming. Instead of waiting, we have to start acting, in our own ways.
It may seem small, but I’ve found that action begets action, and there’s no better recruiting tool.
For you folks scattered hither and fro across the state asking what I’m doing. Ask the Germantown Democrats. I spoke to them Wednesday about the upcoming elections. Ask the County party, where I serve in the most thankless job…as Secretary. Oh yeah, and I ran for County Commission in a Republican district last year because it needed to be done.
We need people to run for Governor, and Senator, and State House and Senate, and County Commission, and City Council, and School Board for that matter. Hell, run for dog catcher if that’s on the damn ballot.
We need folks who are mad as hell and ready for a fight.
If this sounds like you, stand up and take a good look in the mirror. Ask yourself, “why not?”
That’s what I did two years ago when a surprise spot opened up on the Shelby County Commission, and I started contemplating running.