I’ve been listening to various people about the TNDP chair race tomorrow and was kindly asked what I think about it. I’m going to be bluntly honest, I’ve written about my thoughts about the TNDP Chair race as elections happen every two years and while I was going through the time machine, I realized that I would be repeating myself. I’ve said the same thing for years and I guess the best thing I can do right now is just link to Steve Ross, who spells it out quite eloquently at Vibinc.
There are a lot of people talking about the race right now. I advise you to head to KnoxViews, Left Wing Cracker, Rachel Walden, Post Politics, Betsy Phillips and be sure to check out the comments. Dave Garrison and Roy Herron are seeking the position of Chair right now and you can see that folks are pretty split. We can all talk right now but tomorrow’s decision is down to less than one hundred votes from elected Executive Committee members across the state.
I admit I was pulling for Wade Munday and when he decided to run for treasurer, I was cool with it because he will be part of the program in a volunteer position (He’s unopposed). When you decided to dedicate precious time and energy for something you believe in, and Wade has done that, it is worthy of praise and admiration. I also see other young people willing and ready to pitch in, they just want a shot at it.
They want to help but it is also important to LISTEN to them because their ideas are invaluable.
I hope that Garrison and Herron, whoever wins, take that into consideration and mentor them.
The state of Tennessee has been woefully neglectful of mentoring our young people when it comes to state politics in recent years but it hasn’t always been that way. Right now it is done differently and that is of value too. Obama for America and Howard Dean before 2008 realized that young people are crucial in larger roles that just banging on doors and making phone calls in the weeks before the actual primary or election nationally. In small doses, I’ve seen it happen but not always out on the ground outside of urban areas. I believe that and I’m not just talking about Nashville, I’m looking at the entire state. New ideas are always worth hearing and you don’t have to pay big money for it. You just go out into counties, you listen and validate.
I realize everyone is going to do what they are going to do but when we keep having these conversation every couple of years, it gets increasingly more difficult to keep a high level of enthusiasm. It does. Yet I find that I have learned more from those kids (and I can use that word, I’m almost 50) that build me up. And I also love listening to the folks who are ahead of me by a generation that tell of what worked, what didn’t and their enthusiasm as well. You see, there is something to learn from each bench-building year and from every election cycle.
Before my time when I was a wee one, we had to deal with George Wallace in highly divisive environments and from what I hear, that was apparently a significant period of time when democrats started to build alliances. (Nixon won the state that year.) And when I say I was wee, I was just a couple of years old. We can build. We can and it has been done before during times of struggle. When folks say that we can’t, I guess they can’t.
But they aren’t we, and we can.
Check out the Cody Goodmans, the Spencer Bowers, the Zak Kelleys, the John Haubenreichs, the John Mareks, the Ben Smiths, the Jane Hampton Bowens,the Caraline Rickards, the Romel McMurrys of the world and other young democrats. Talk to some of the older folks around the state that remember how the Ned McWherters and Annabelle Clement O’Brien built benches. Talk to the people who are now working in the present. Call them, ask what they know and tell them your ideas. There are so many possibilites. I’m leaving so many folks out, and that is not intentional believe me, but there is only so much space, because there are so many people out there that can teach each other.
Young, old, rural, urban, centrist, moderate, progressive … we can all learn from each other if we listen, sit down and talk it through. Not just elected leaders but regular people and, this is the most important thing, if we try do everything together without tearing each other down.
And that is all I have to say.