One of y’all wrote to me and asked ” how a single individual can contribute to the Democratic cause here in Tennessee.”
And, frankly, I don’t know. I mean, I became an internet curmudgeon, but I can’t say that that’s been a very appreciated, or even noticed, contribution to the Democratic cause.
But, I think we’re starting at square one here. And since we’re starting at square one, we can ask ourselves some very basic questions.
1. Why are we Democrats? What is it about the Democrats that appeals to me? In other words, what do I stand for politically and why do the Democrats in general provide the best fit for me?
2. Are there places where I’m willing to compromise? For me, I could support a pro-gun candidate without thinking twice. But frankly, I find Democrats who oppose gay rights to be too cowardly for my taste. We live in a state where people who don’t seem like “normal” heterosexual people get beat up and killed. If you can’t stand before your constituents and say that everyone who lives in Tennessee has the right to live here free from harassment and threat of bodily injury even if you yourself are uncomfortable with what kinds of people they are, then fuck you. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in full equality and gay marriage and the whole scary liberal shebang, but I live in a state where we’re still fighting over whether people who don’t meet some heteronormative standard have the right to exist and have their existence acknowledged. And I want even conservative Democrats to be willing to say “Yes, all the different kinds of people in Tennessee do actually exist and have the right to do so free from harm.”
That should not be too radical for any Democrat.
And don’t even get me started on women’s rights. God.
You may have some other standard.
3. Are there candidates that best represent my values? What can I do for those individual candidates?
And then, and only then,
4. What are the goals of the State party? How are they meeting them? What can I do to help?
I don’t know. Like Rachel Maddow says, talk me down. But I feel like any effort by a regular person to try to understand and make a difference right now at a state level, unless you already know all the players and have a score card, can’t be done. I barely understand it and I try to follow it pretty closely. The ground is constantly shifting and knowing where to put your foot takes skills most folks don’t have.
It’d be nice if a politician in this state had a “D” after his or her name for some other reason than that there was already a full field of “R”s. It’d be nice if all those Democrats worked together towards common Democratic goals. And it’d be nice if they shared resources and strategies.
But from the outside, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
So, what then?
I honestly don’t know. It is my belief, and I could be wrong–like I said yesterday, the more I learn, the less I realize I know–, that for many Tennessee Democrats, they are Democrats because they are. Not because they believe in any mutual goals or subscribe to a broad, similar philosophy, but just because. So, I’m not sure what being a Democrat in Tennessee means.
I’m not sure anyone does.
And, frankly, that problem runs much deeper than the Governor or Chip Forrester or whoever. Fighting about which one of them has fucked up worse is a distraction from that fundimental problem.
What does it mean to say that you’re a Democrat in Tennessee?