So “Big Boy Politics” = Being an Incompetent Bullying Asshole?

Lord almighty, people, I am so short on time and yet, I didn’t want you to miss further evidence of the Tennessee Democratic Party eating its young.

Seriously, I don’t even know what to say. The number one rule of telling someone that, if they don’t get on board with your program, the next few years will be very miserable for them is to not put it in writing where everyone can see it–“Please reconsider your decison [sic] and vote for Chip. I believe that I can safely assure you that the College Democrats will be well served by your vote for the winner.”

But also, not to be a pedantic bitch, but, if you’re casting about for reasons why women aren’t that excited about the Democrats, look no further than the dick-waving fest this has become, from all the talk of who can most adeptly fly the biggest airplane to who is the prettiest to this “big boy politics” crap.

But, hey, if we succeed in alienating all of our young people, then we’re looking at Moses-length times in the wilderness. That should be fun. And by “fun” I mean terrible.

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21 thoughts on “So “Big Boy Politics” = Being an Incompetent Bullying Asshole?

  1. As usual your comments regarding sexism are very insightful( probable since Im a guy I don’t notice these things the first time around)

    Also, the thing alienating young people from becoming active in the party, is the so called leaders of the various young democrats organizations. They treat them as business networking orgs. instead of working to elect Dems.

    As a member of the DCYD board I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to see less then half the board show up for regular phone banking during the campaign, but then have the same email list produce 40 people for a wine and cheese party after the election.

    I take much the blame for not creating more new and different outreach opportunities, but the long and the short is that the people who should be the vanguard of the party put in far less work then many single working mothers I sat beside making phone calls throughout last fall.

    There are plenty of young progressive activists and I work with alot of them in my job, but they aren’t interested in the “game”, only in making a real difference.

  2. Kris, I think that’s a problem endemic in Democratic politics in Tennessee. Some people have their fiefdoms that they protect at all costs, because they like to get together and have snacks and tell each other how important they are.

    And then there are people who really, really need Democrats to win–single moms, gay people, minorities, women in general, etc.–and they show up to work. AND (and this is the important part) only to have their asses handed to them repeatedly by the people who emphasize the social club aspect.

    And to me, that looks like the real split in the party, one that plays out across all factions.

    It’d be easier if it were simply blue dogs v. liberals or urban v. rural.

    But it’s not. That’s just a lie we tell ourselves because it’s easier than saying it’s Democrats who like hanging out with each other v. Democrats who need Democrats to win.

  3. This whole post pretty much sums up why I can’t get too worked up over the chairman’s race–because it doesn’t really matter. What we all found out the hard way the last time around is that the various factions in this party care more about protecting their own turf than in “coming together.” I don’t think even Ned Ray himself could bring this party together right now. Whoever wins will simply have to contend once again with the losing factions sitting on their asses and pouting for not getting their way.

  4. Yeah, I was happy to help with the debate, because I realized that, by the time they got around to asking me, they must have asked every other person in the state even tangentially associated with a media outlet, and I didn’t want to leave them in the lurch.

    But I’ve been burned bad enough (as have many bloggers) to have lost my taste for trying to work within the party.

    And, lo and behold, even doing this to help Dems who were in a jam, meant emails being sent behind my back about what a poor choice I was.

    I mean, holy fuck, Dems, I got the message two years ago. You can stop roasting me over the coals every fucking time I try to help.

    If people such as myself are sitting on the sidelines taking potshots, it is literally because that is the safest place.

    Ha ha ha ha ha. Whew. That’s unfortunate at a couple of levels, but I’m going to leave it.

    But, yeah, it doesn’t matter. It is the same-old same-old. And that’s depressing to me.

  5. Notwithstanding the sexism, I’m offended by the fact that this guy felt the need to condescend to Cody, presumably because he heads an organization with the word “young” in its name. He may as well have opened his letter with, “Hey there, skipper!”

  6. As a timely highlight of the prevalence of the horse race, non substantive nature of Democratic politics, look at the blog coverage of the chairmans race. There has been far more written on the blogosphere on a posts per day basis about this “race” than was about actual bills during the last session. Or look how much virtual ink was spilled over the 21 SD primary, I know on Braisted wrote approximately as many posts on that one primary race as he did on all other post-primary substantive election posts combined. Obviously everyone is free to write what they want but when this fluff is what drives conversations and creates “intelligensia” it accentuates why we as Democrats and as Tennesseans who need good government keep suffering defeat.

  7. As a timely highlight of the prevalence of the horse race, non substantive nature of Democratic politics, look at the blog coverage of the chairmans race. There has been far more written on the blogosphere on a posts per day basis about this “race” than was about actual bills during the last session.

    I think Harold Ford Jr’s non-run against Gillibrand in NY actually got more ink than Mike McWherter’s run against Haslam.

  8. I know a great many bloggers, including myself and B and the folks at Speak to Power, wanted to highlight bills. We did when we could. We watched committee video, read bills, made calls. The challenge there was getting folks to work with us. It’s hard to know whether to highlight something coming down the road or if it’s just a caption bill that’ll change or something that won’t make it to the floor. In short, there was not nearly enough communication. Chip & co. did the Friday press dumps (despite training county party chairs NOT TO DO THAT) where we learned how he felt about wooden-bat league Republicans toeing the party line and other than that, with a few exceptions, we were on our own.

    We’re not paid to do this. We have jobs and other obligations and need help to get the message out. If we don’t get that help, you get what we’re most passionate about — whether that’s a chairman’s race or a primary or reproductive health. If the party wants an army of bill-highlighting, on-message, dedicated bloggers, we should consider hiring such a PR team. That’s what the other side does, and it’s something they do well.

  9. Kris,

    As a blogger I write about what interests me. The primary interested me, this race interests me, and (judging by the stats) its what interested the people reading my blog.

    I’m not an advocate, and I’d be reluctant to call myself an “activist”. I’m simply a guy who enjoys politics and likes to write about it. Don’t get paid, and I really respect people like Samantha who put in all the unpaid volunteer hours during the election, and yes, I do feel bad about not putting in more of an effort.

    The beauty of the blogosphere is that if you don’t like what’s being written, or if you don’t feel a certain topic is being covered enough, there are plenty of free services that can be utilized to get your message across.

  10. I know not all bloggers fall under the rubrik I mentioned(and some like this one fall way outside it cause of stuff like those awesome eskimo poems), and I dont know(or care) what the party wants from progressive bloggers.

    I do know that if someone who is just getting into party activism is guided towards certain blogs as “rising stars/intelligensia/whatever” and on those blogs substantive issue discussion recieves half as much space as horse race bullshit then progressive activists will continue to eschew the party in favor of more substantive work with other progressive groups.

    This turns into a vicious cycle where only the horse racers and debutantes want to be involved in the Party.

    I suppose I’m saying that if the chairman’s race is what your most politically passionate about(I realize its the big thing right now but I mean in comparison to legislative issues), then you’re a shallow person who clearly doesn’t care about the lives of Tennesseans who need (insert any issue here)

  11. Kris,

    Yes, I am shallow. I treat politics like a game. I don’t get passionate about each and every piece of legislation that comes before the Legislature that I like or dislike. If I thought for one moment that my coverage of an issue on a blog would make a difference in the legislature, I might be far more interested in covering it out of solidarity with (insert oppressed minority here).

    But after a few years doing this, I realized that, A) voicing my opinion rarely, if ever, changes someone else’s. and B) That when I have made calls for people to volunteer, make phone calls, etc…it rarely, if ever, makes a difference.

    So, yes, I could commence in an exercise of vanity and become the voice of the voiceless, but, quite frankly, nobody would really read and, and those who did were probably already on my side or not going to come over to it.

    So, to wrap up. I’m a shallow uncommitted liberal who treats politics like a game and doesn’t spend every waking moment of his life agonizing over every piece of legislation. I can accept that. I write a blog because it offers me a creative outlet. If and when a piece of legislation or an issue come to the forefront that interests me, I cover it…but I don’t feel obligated to do so because its not my job, and I don’t owe anybody anything with regards to what I choose to write about.

    If that is not what you or your group is looking for in a blogger, again, its literally a free blog world, have at it.

  12. Yes, but look at the way you disappear the responsible parties. Someone is getting into party activism and “is guided towards certain blogs.” By whom?

    By the people who’ve spent years running down Braisted or threatening Ilissa or calling me a know-it-all bitch?

    Or by the people who don’t even know we exist?

    Or by the people who purposefully ignore us until they need something?

    If progressive activists even know who we are, believe me, they’re not avoiding the party because we’re not writing about the right things. They’re avoiding the party because how we get treated is how anyone who rocks the boat in even a small way gets treated.

    As Samantha said, we’ve been asking for years for more information on bills, for more information about candidates and politicians who could use the free PR, for press releases that actually tell us what Democrats think and are up to.

    And that hasn’t happened. As far as I’m concerned, there is exactly ONE Democratic politico who has repeatedly demonstrated that he understands that you don’t get to boss bloggers and that you have to engage us as people not as flunkies.

    Everyone else, even you, wants to dictate what gets covered and how it’s covered and whether there’s enough emphasis on the things you think are important.

    That’s never going to work, at least not with the bloggers y’all actually want it to.

  13. I would also like to note that, for many bloggers, the very reason they* focused on the Henry/Yarbro race was because how Henry has voted on legislation that affects women. That ends up looking horse-race-ish, but then again, if every entry ended with a boilerplate that tied it to legislation, saying, “Clearly Jeff Yarbro will be a better choice to represent Democratic women like me in District 21 because x, y, and z votes Senator Henry cast in the last three sessions,” then they’re grudge-holders, insufferable feminist bitches, idealists who don’t understand how politics works, et al. There’s not really any winning here.

    * I refused to endorse either side because of DCDP bylaws, and to avoid looking like I had, I didn’t write about it.

  14. Sean,

    What you say does change opinion, and it does drive conversation. I know because I used to not read any blogs but everyone kept mentioning yours and some other blogs. And I don’t mean random everyones I mean major progressive lobbyists and other activist down at the legslature.

    I’ve made it clear that I think the reason behind the volunteer issue is that so many of “young democrat” set don’t give a shit about people or issues, they just want to network and play drama queen.

    Samantha, I’m not denying that that were substantive issues regarding SD 21, but the idea that it was of equal importance to all other legislative races combined is circumspect to me.

    Also, I have mistakenly conflated “blogger” with online chatter as well as the class of democrat I referred to debutants whether online or off, young or old. This largely due to the fact that I hadn’t been able to articulate what I feel is the number thing that will keeping the dems from gaining power, as B put it,”dems who like hanging out vs. dems who need dems to win”

  15. “so many of ‘young democrat’ set don’t give a shit about people or issues, they just want to network and play drama queen.” – I have no idea why you would limit that description to young Democrats…

  16. I hope everyone else doesn’t get too annoyed by the inside baseball back and forth, but here I go.

    Kris, I think you do know what a lot of the problem there is. You’ve previously mentioned some pretty solid actions we could take as first steps toward bridging that gap and getting things done. For the DCYD, it was a matter of getting through the election season before we could act. Now we’re there and you and I both know that we’re doing follow up and planning next steps at next week’s board meeting.

    As Kris has pointed out before, many of the events held in the past are not scheduled for most people with most jobs. They’ve been tailored toward a small slice of the Democratic constituency. Most of us, even with a lot of flexibility, can’t be at an event downtown at 5 p.m. or pay a $25 suggested donation every time. Choosing activities that allow a wider variety of people to attend is a start. Choosing activities that tie into the issues Democrats are generally interested in, rather than just having a gathering of people who affiliate with the party, helps as well. Because, let’s face it, people who care passionately about specific issues are generally people who are more willing to volunteer for the less-fun activities like phonebanking or canvassing or putting signs in yards. (Case in point – our greatest source of help in phonebanking this year was from members of the TEP.) And doing these things in off years to continue to build membership and keep connected with activists is paramount.

    As for SD 21 – well, B and Braisted and Ilissa live in Nashville. They’re probably going to care about it more than other races, barring again some “man bites dog” circumstance. I think better questions to ask are, where are the Democrats in rural districts and how can we empower them to follow and talk about their races?

  17. many of the events held in the past are not scheduled for most people with most jobs

    Quoted for emphasis.

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