Well now, we have a lot to talk about, don't we?
Well, Shelby County, what do we do now? Barack Obama will never be on the ballot again, so how do we get the people who turned out in droves in this election to come back in 2014 when we desperately need them? There are no elections next year, but every minute of SCDP time should be taken to reach out to keep contact with those voters, keep them engaged and involved and let them know that EVERY election is important. Money has to be raised, but grassroots organizing needs to be done on a scale not really done here since Harold Ford Sr. was our Congressman. Congressman Cohen, you and your crack election team needs to be involved with that effort to the largest extent possible. You are our leader, and it's time to take the lead.
We need to do this so that we are not so grossly out numbered in the state. Remember when the Democrats were in charge of the Legislature for 140 years? Those days are gone forever, folks, and being a Democrat here means that we have to rebuild from the ashes. While Bredenistas point the finger at Chip Forrester, I must remind you that he is not Calvin Coolidge, who led a similar debacle for the whole country, but Herbert Hoover, who inherited and mismanaged the Depression.
There are good people who work their butt off at the TNDP, and I do not hold them accountable for what happened last night, that has been in motion for years and came to fruition with this election. There are some things with which we all need to come to grips if we are going to rebuild for the future.
1. NED MCWHERTER IS NOT WALKING THROUGH THAT DOOR.
The greatest Governor this state has ever known was a giant of a human being and had the capacity to inspire people and lead them. He was the only one who could run on the theme ONE OF US and appeal to conservative voters. His house seat, from which he served as Speaker of the House for 14 years, is now held by a goober Republican from Dresden named Andy Holt, who, to put it mildly, is a joke. The Senate seat once held by the longest-serving Lt. Governor in history, John Wilder, is now held by a Republican from Somerville named Delores Gresham, who is busy helping to destroy public education. And the last nail in the West Tennessee coffin was put in last night, as outgoing Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh's seat was won by yet another Republican.
We have to understand that if a Tennessean is going to vote for a conservative, they will vote for a Republican, because we have allowed ourselves to be defined by others and have not defined conservatism for what it is, elitism and quasi-feudalism. What is now called moderate was once called right-wing. We CANNOT win elections in rural areas on cultural issues and until we aggressively work to change that, we will be irrelevant in Tennessee politics. We need to talk to people like Charles Curtiss, John Mark Windle and John Tidwell to see how they survive in this climate.
2. ATTENTION TNDP; THERE IS MORE TO TENNESSEE THAN JUST WHAT IS INSIDE THE 440 LOOP.
This is addressed to not to Chip but to the ExecCom and to those who make their money off Tennessee Democrats. They don't understand Memphis, they don't understand rural areas, they don't understand anything beyond Belle Meade, East Nasty and the West End. They live in a world where it's always 1990 and Ned's been re-elected and all is right with the world.
IT ISN'T. We aren't rebuilding the TNDP just so Bill Fletcher and Dave Cooley can make money, we are doing this to CHANGE AND AFFECT POLICY. We have to re-think everything because how well we are able to do this will determine if we are EVER relevant again. And that answer does NOT include being GOP Lite. When you consider that even though Scott DesJarlais proved to be even worse a human being than we had suspected, and the DCCC sent money to help Eric Stewart, Eric STILL got stomped? Either TN-04 is filled with wackjobs or we ran the wrong campaign. It didn't work for Lincoln Davis two years ago, and it wasn't going to work for Eric now.
3. A 95-COUNTY STRATEGY NEEDS TO BE PUT IN PLACE ASAP.
We have to understand that while it is helpful to raise as much money as possible, when you are in the super-minority, not much cash will be tossed at you by high-rollers. That, my friends, is not necessarily such a bad thing. This forces us to be creative and to do something we are not that good at doing: ORGANIZING.
We have to do this at the County level in EVERY county, whether it's Shelby or Williamson or Washington or Lake County. We need to engage young people in every county, for they are our future. We need to ensure that there are College Democrats clubs on EVERY campus of higher education in this state and train them about elections and policy. Without a great ground game, there is no chance of victory. If you could buy elections, the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson would be a lot happier today than they are.
GROUND GAME WORKS; just ask the President of the United States.
4. STOP BEING SCARED OF MEMPHIS; YOU NEED US AND WE NEED YOU.
If anything drives me crazy, it's when people talk about Memphis as if we are a leper colony. We are the most diverse (and NOT just black-and-white, either) metro area in the state, and the largest. Yes, we are different from the rest of the state in every way possible, but you need to realize that a higher percentage of the state than ever before lives in METRO areas. The four largest metro areas contain if not a majority of the state's population, then might damn close. We can help each other, because it is a necessity. Every time you demonize Memphis, you shoot yourselves in the foot. You may think you can't win with us, but the reality is that you cannot win WITHOUT us.
5. ON THE OTHER HAND, WE CAN'T WIN WITHOUT THE RURAL VOTE, EITHER.
Rural areas are hurting, and we can't abandon them. If anything, we need to help these folks and help them realize that while they have been voting GOP on culture, it is KILLING them economically. I believe we can do this; if we can't, then there is no hope for them OR their culture. We cannot win on culture and we MUST find away not to play into culture. As I said early, that worked for Ned because it was Ned; it ain't working for anyone else. West Tennessee outside Memphis and Jackson is DYING and we have to reverse this trend.
6. IF YOU DON'T STAND FOR SOMETHING, YOU'LL FALL FOR ANYTHING.
For cultural reasons, the old-time Tennessee Democrats did their best to resist being defined, which is a good thing. They, however, often refused to define their opponents, which is a bad thing. We have to define the GOP for what they ARE and not allow them to pretend they are something that they are NOT. We have to define ourselves in the strongest terms possible. A big tent is never bad, but it can't be so loose as to be vague. People around the state came to see us as not standing for anything except re-election. I understand that you have to be elected to accomplish things; but if you're elected and things still don't change, why should they continue to vote for you?
7. THIS AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN OVERNIGHT; BE PREPARED FOR A LONG DECADE.
The GOP takeover didn't happen last night; it had been building, partially because those in charge of Democratic politics either didn't see it coming, or DID see it and had no clue of what to do about it. Tennessee is changing, and we need to SHAPE that change, or we will be consumed by it, and that's why the TNDP has to rethink everything, and at every level.
Please comment and let me know what you think; flame away and tell me if I am wrong, but say WHY.
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