A Brief Counter-Point

There’s been a lot of speculation about who Tennessee Talking Points is, but I think today, at the least, we learn it is a white person who does not understand one fundamental truth to politics.

Proof he or she is a white person?

Let’s face facts. Barack Obama isn’t going to win in Tennessee. We are not going to beat Bob Corker in 2012. We have ZERO say in redistricting. So as Tennessee Democrats, let’s get focused on things we CAN do.

Listen, my second point was going to be that I’d love for someone to point to one state party that is well-run and effective that thumbs its nose at doing its part for national politics And I was going to hoist a mighty one-fingered salute to the idea that any efforts in Wisconsin were wasted, but just rereading the above quote to paste it in here has annoyed me so much that I’m skipping the second part of this rant to focus on the first.

People died in this state–in two different centuries–to decide what kinds of social and political lives black people can lead. There are Democrats in this very party in Tennessee who were alive when King was assassinated. Some of their relatives hanged from trees. Some of them and their friends and families were beat up and spit on. People who are alive today remember when they had to use back doors and separate facilities.

Fine, working for Obama isn’t important to you because you don’t think he can win in Tennessee. That’s the truth. He can’t. But if you can’t see why even having the opportunity to work for Obama, even if he loses, is important to other Democrats in Tennessee, then you’re probably not really ready to offer sweeping advice that other Democrats should listen to.

Here’s the truth. In Tennessee, “Democratic” has to encompass everyone from black gay libertarian gun-nuts for Christ to feminist socialist atheist farmers to Hispanic businesspeople who only drive Volvos. Basically, everyone who gets kicked out of being a Republican has to fit into our enormous, but sparsely populated tent.

When you have an enormous, but sparsely populated by vastly different people tent, if your first temptation is to run around saying “I know just what we need to do,” you are wrong. What, exactly, do black gay libertarian gun-nuts for Christ and feminist socialist atheist farmers and Hispanic businesspeople who only drive Volvos have in common? Why would they all be in our tent, other than that the other tent has booted them?

I don’t know.

And you don’t know either.

Because we refuse to articulate anything we stand for. We have for as long as I’ve been paying attention only been the party of people who are not Republicans. We’ve never said what we’re the party of.

We don’t know why we’re throwing this particular parade, but by god, there’s always some damn fool ready to get to the front of it and point us in another “more important” direction.

That’s not working. What if we tried actually finding out what Democratic voters want and then figuring out if we can offer it to them?

9 thoughts on “A Brief Counter-Point

  1. TTP doesn’t make a convincing case that it’s impossible to be involved with national issues or situations and daunting State ones as well. Some of us can handle more than one topic at a time. Some of us even talk about both the Tennessee Democratic Party and zombies. Oh wait..Not such a leap.

  2. Obama has a very good chance of winning TN if the GOP continues to build their plantation on Lunatic Fringe Boulevard.

  3. As far as I’m conerned, there’s a lot worse than Bob Corker waiting in the wings. And I agree that the TDP needs to sit down and decide what the hell it’s for, as opposed to what the hell it’s against. Because I think we all already know that.

    Here’s what I’d be for…an effective, pluralistic public education system, a efficiently run judicial system that still provides meaningful due process protection for individuals, a sound state infrastructure, and a party power structure that knows it’s head from a hole in the ground.

  4. Because we refuse to articulate anything we stand for. We have for as long as I’ve been paying attention only been the party of people who are not Republicans. We’ve never said what we’re the party of.

    “We’re the party of … uh … we are the party of liking to win elections! Because it’s better than losing! So elect us so we can say that we were elected! And we will fight for … working people, something something! Note I said fight, because I am linguistically undermining myself!”

  5. Getting back to that post at TTP, the more I have turned that over in my mind the more wrongheaded it seems, just on pragmatic, logistical grounds. A party that intends to win (some) elections takes part even in elections it knows it can’t win, because that’s how you find out who’s willing to do some work. Who will go door to door for you? Who will make phone calls? Who will schmooze potential donors? Who will show up at public campaign events and make some noise? And that’s how you find out who ought to be on whose team, who can’t work with each other under any circumstances, who has creative spur-of-the-moment ideas and who will come up with something useful but needs time to work it out. And, finally, it’s how you create loyalty and camaraderie among the people who are now more likely to come out to help next time around.

    The idea that you will wait until an election you’re sure (or at least pretty sure) you can win, and then start campaigning, doesn’t show a lot of intelligence about how to get people to get to work, I think.

  6. and in a way the whole post sort of undermines itself. We’re supposed to focus on things we can actually win? Well it would not be hard to argue that sort of excludes doing pretty much anything at the state level and ONLY focusing on how we can help Democrats nationally and elsewhere in the country.

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