Tennessee Democrats need to look to past and future…change
As October rolls upon us, so does the next Tennessee election cycle. Most notably, a U.S Senate race, a state gubernatorial race, and numbers of additional state and local seat races. In recent years, the Tennessee Democratic Party has suffered crushing defeats in relevant races. Is the party willing to change? Are there new Democrats out there that need to be brought in?
What do Democrats need to do to reverse the current “losers” label it now projects, or even worse, as J.R. Lind points out in his post, Weekly Obsession: Lowe Finney and tales of future past.
The Tennessee Democratic Party is such a desolate wasteland that its future has now become its past, and its past is now its present.
And its present is about as exciting as a rewrapped package of socks under the Christmas tree.
Pretty harsh, but if recent elections are any indication, very true.
The South for Democrats is a different place now. Many so-called Reagan Democrats have left the party for more moderate Republicans like Senator Corker or are waiting for a Tennessee Democrat who shares their values. It’s the new politics of the South and Tennessee Democrats have had a terrible time adjusting. Tennessee Democrats learn to become Tennessee democrats. Big T, little d!
An article in the the Chattanooga Times Free Press, “Tennessee Democrats ready to rumble but unclear of target: Republicans or fellow Democrats” highlighted the current division in the party. Current Democratic Party Chairman has been chided by many for being “too conservative”. The label of “too conservative” has caused divisiveness among some state party leaders it appears.
During the meeting, the Finance Committee chairman, Jerry Maynard, of Nashville, and vice chairwoman, Mary Patterson, of Mount Juliet, resigned, citing disagreements with Herron.
And just yesterday, Kevin Teets, the executive director of the party stepped down.
Democrats currently are at a 13-20 seat and 34-64 seat majority in the state legislature. That isn’t even close to a working minority. Do folks chiding current Chairman Herron’s new way or new perspective realize that while they might have kept raising money, they weren’t winning elections?
Moderate or conservative Democrats aren’t engaged. They don’t become involved in local politics more and more because it appears that they don’t have a place or say in the current state or majority of local party matters. Moderates see a Senator Corker and believe him to be a sensible and smart Senator for the state, so with a lack of viable Democratic candidates, they turn to Republicans.
Do moderate Democrats agree with a majority of these moderate Republican’s views or votes? No. But therein lies the point, the Tennessee Democratic Party is filled with those who refuse to compromise or take views that or inline with the politics of the state. Thus, moderate Democrats are leaving the party or crossing over to vote for the more moderate Republicans.
Democrats simply cannot win in this state again by supporting the national party line or by criticizing new Chairmen who might be perceived as “too conservative”.
News flash! Tennessee is a conservative state and Democrats can be conservative and still support the underlying principles of our platform.
News Flash #2! The things you believe in don’t matter if you can’t win elections.
I would be remiss not to point out that Democrats have been widely successful in city mayoral races and are doing very well at leading their cities. So Democrats can govern and lead, when they can win.
The lesson: We as Tennessee Democrats can sit around all day long and agree with each other on policy. But until we venture out and talk to the folks, even within our own party, that don’t agree with everything the national party or more liberal wing believes, we will suffer defeat after defeat at the state level.
With the recent departures at the state party, it appears that Chairman Herron is ruffling feathers by changing things, and that is probably exactly what the party needs.