What Now?

So, last night we were sitting around talking about nm’s question from yesterday, “What can you do if you feel like the Democrats in this state think ‘Democrat’ means ‘Just Like the Republicans'”?

And one of us was saying that you can not love state Democrats but if we don’t vote them in, it’ll just get worse and worse and worse.

And I disagreed.  I think when you have half of the state Democrats signing on to an amendment that denies a fundimental citizenship right to women (no, assholes, abortion is not a fundimental citizenship right.  The ability to control what happens to your body and to be free from the state inflicting pain and suffering on you is.), it’s about as bad as it can get.

But it’s freeing to know that it’s a lie when folks say “As bad as the Democrats are, the Republicans are worse.”  Worse how so?  Because only the Republicans think the State owns a pregnant woman’s body?  Nope.  Democrats think that, too.  Because only Republicans think that gay people shouldn’t be able to adopt kids?  Nope.  Democrats think that, too.  Because only Republicans put forth “Women are lying bitches you need to be protected from” legislation?  Nope.  Democrats do that, too.

For most folks who have Democratic representation in this state, if they were to find themselves with Republican representation, they would see no difference.

Does that mean you should just go ahead and succumb to dispair and vote Republican?  I say, if they’re cute enough, yes.  Ha, no, that’s not actually what I say.  I say unqualifiably in some cases, yes.

Say you live in a place with high unemployment and let’s say that your three top concerns are:

1.  Equality under the law for all Tennesseans, regardless of gender of sexual orientation.

2.  Jobs.

3.  Healthcare.

Well, if your Democratic candidate doesn’t support number one, we’re now in a position as voters where sending him to Nashville just in hopes of boosting the Democratic numbers hoping that means that other Democrats come through on one doesn’t have the weight it did.  And that’s just the truth of it.

So, if the Republican candidate seems to have really good ideas about how to bring jobs to your area, I’m not going to sit here and blame you for voting for him or her.

That’s just the truth on the ground.

I would encourage you to continue to vote for Democrats.  I’m going to continue to vote for Democrats.  But I’m going to stop lying to myself about the importance of voting for Democrats as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong.  I follow politics, and I get how the game works.  I get that we need a lot of Democrats so that the Democrats I agree with have a shot at doing the things I’d like them to do.  I get that redistricting matters.  I get that being able to send Democrats to Washington under a Democratic administration matters.

But I’ve thought that for a decade and at the end of that decade, I ask you Democrats, where are we?  I voted for Democrats over and over again and yet… and yet… here we still are.

And last night, I was depressed about it.  But I got up this morning and I realized, no, no matter what the truth is, it’s always better to know it.  You can make the decisions you have to make based on the truth.

And the truth is that most Democratic politicians in this state do not deserve my blind loyalty.  Nor do they deserve yours.

So, what’s that mean?

I think it means two things.

1.  There is no Democratic base in Tennessee.  It’s broken.  Voters and volunteers have held that puppy together as long as they could and while we were busy on our hands and knees with duct tape, the politicians were busy dancing on our fingers.  It’s time we stand up, wipe the dust off our clothes and let the politicians decide what they want to do.  If having a Democratic base in this state is important to them, they’re going to have to take some time away from pretending to be Republicans and attend to things here at home.  There have been some positive motions in this direction, but for every positive motion, there is an opposite stupid motion.  Doing one good thing and then one terrible thing is not going to cut it.  There’s no progress there.

2.  We can rethink this whole idea that our representatives are the people who represent our district.  If wanting women to have rights is important to you, well, we learned the names of twenty-one folks yesterday who deserve our support.  It doesn’t matter if they aren’t “our” representatives.  Right now, they ARE our representatives.  And that’s the truth.  And that’s how we have to start behaving–like every race is our race and every candidate potentially someone who deserves our support.

I know that, as a practical matter, we need all the Democrats we can get.  So, I think that people who are suggesting primarying sitting Democrats are wrong.  But I also think that, as a matter of survival, we have to start actively supporting the folks who are doing right and openly chastising the Democrats who are not.  They need us, but they have demonstrated, repeatedly, that we cannot count on them.

Business as usual has landed us here.  We need a new business.

I don’t know what that will look like, but I believe it starts with Democratic voters changing how we do things.

17 thoughts on “What Now?

  1. Pingback: Newscoma » Blog Archive » The Intervention

  2. Personally, I support the idea of running primary challengers against backsliders. Make the bastards sweat, I say. Light a fire under their asses. When Democrats fight, it creates more Democrats. If we run good progressive challengers on a consistent basis, voters will have something to care about. It has a cumulative effect, and if we’re consistent with it, those challengers will start winning sooner rather than later.

    Blue Dogism or Johnny-come-lately or whatever these people call their philosophy is not worth fighting for. Nobody cares about their quiltwork political platform they stitched together out of the scraps the GOP leaves behind. Our side has a natural advantage in that regard. Give voters a true cause to join, a flag to rally around, and things will change around here.

  3. We can rethink this whole idea that our representatives are the people who represent our district. If wanting women to have rights is important to you, well, we learned the names of twenty-one folks yesterday who deserve our support. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t “our” representatives. Right now, they ARE our representatives. And that’s the truth. And that’s how we have to start behaving–like every race is our race and every candidate potentially someone who deserves our support.

    I think that’s important. And I agree, in theory, with autoegocrat about primary challenges and how they bring out (and increase the number of) active, motivated, real Democrats. But I feel right now like the state party can’t produce candidates I’m going to get behind. (I could be wrong about this, and I’d like to be, and if I am I will start ignoring what I’m about to say at once.) So I’m looking to other parties to represent me. I scorn the Greens as a national party, but a lot of their local candidates have good-sounding ideas and practical experience at organizing things. I’d love to see something like a functioning DSA here; they could put some pressure on the Democrats locally to, you know, be Democrats. Or a WFP or something. I can’t be the only one around the state. So let me issue a shout-out to lefty third parties: Tennessee might have some membership for y’all.

  4. There is no Democratic base in Tennessee. It’s broken.

    But see, there could be. Even if Obama didn’t do all that well here, you still have plenty of people all around who gave him $5, $10, $20 at a time. Not just in Nashville and Memphis, but all around the state. Those are the people who must be identified and brought in to have any prayer of retaining a base.

    But the powers that be won’t do that. They’ve let it be known that they believe anyone who enthusiastically supported Obama must be a crazy socialist ultra-lib who will hurt Democrats. And so they’re determined to keep those people uninvolved in state politics.

  5. So what’s your solution? I’d be happy to help in unseating the powers that be, but so far as I have seen no one is suggesting any concrete actions that might involve.

  6. I’m not saying immediately move to unseat the powers that be, I am saying that at the very least, let’s not just be quiet and get in line.

  7. Not to make it even worse, but the number has dropped from 22 to 21. One “Democrat” has been allowed to change his vote after the fact because he “accidentally” voted against the measure.

    Hackworth Changes Vote

  8. Great post. That applies also for the US Reps and Senators. It seems like the US Capitol is full of Republican lites posing as Democrats. They all campaigned on Democratic issues, and then they’re too chicken or too cowed by the right wing machine to realize they were voted in to advance the Democratic agenda! Just keep writing to them and raising hell!

  9. So what’s your solution? I’d be happy to help in unseating the powers that be, but so far as I have seen no one is suggesting any concrete actions that might involve.

    For all the sound and fury surrounding Bredesen and the Congressionals, the state Democratic Executive Committee does a lot of day to day running of things. Their procedures are almost totally opaque; tho they’re elected on the ballot, in Gubernatorial primary years, they don’t seem to believe they’re particularly beholden to anyone.

    There’s been very little turnover in the body as a whole for the past decade, and I know of one or two members who’ve been on the EC for 30+ years (there are probably more).

    These would be the folks I’d target first, if it were me.

    B, I agree wholeheartedly with every word you typed. However, we gotta be prepared: the powers that be are going to fight reform vehemently and we’ll be presented as Republicans, pretty much, for questioning things like why Dems keep selling us out and losing elections. That said, I think an organized boycott against certain candidates – combined with fundraising for those who do the right thing – might be a powerful combination.

    Maybe starting a new PAC for the purpose of exactly that?

  10. Eleanor, your comment has been sticking with me.

    And it seems like Steve Ross is thinking along similar lines (though he can correct me if I’m wrong):

    http://www.vibincblog.com/?p=1081/

    I don’t know anything about setting up a PAC, but it feels like there are a lot of knowledgeable people out there who are anxious to do something, and that things are kind of building in that direction.

    Anyway, all that’s a long way of saying that your comment has me seriously thinking.

  11. OMG you are in Tennessee. THAT explains everything. Southern Democrats are like Northeastern Republicans. Except they aren’t as wealthy…well, almost as wealthy…

  12. Ya know, I’d contribute to a Progressive TN sort of PAC. I think that’s a great idea — so long as there is someone who understands how to administer such an animal. It’s not just a question of collecting money; it has to be directed properly. But as the topic of an ongoing discussion of what we’re trying to accomplish and how to do that, I think it’s a wonderful idea.

  13. I’m not sure how to reconcile the idea of voting one’s interests, in order, with the way politics “works” in TN, particularly the committee structure. It’s a lot like Albany: nothing gets to the floor unless it’s a foregone conclusion. Hence everything happens in committees (kill or allow through) and committees are appointed by the Speaker, and the majority party controls the Speakership. We had a one-off stroke of genius this session, with the MINORITY party electing a Speaker, but I don’t see anyone pulling off that stunt again anytime soon. So let’s say my Dem legislative candidate backed every piece of hateful, criminally dumb legislation last go-round, but I know how critical it is to have a Dem majority to head dumbassery off at the pass: what’s a girl to do?

  14. Pingback: The southern GOP ain’t your northern GOP « The Crone Speaks

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