I am fighting mad. The party I came to know and love is being attacked. I am not referring to the attacks on the Chairman of the party, but, that is implied, I am not referring to the attacks on the grassroots but, that can be implied as well. I am referring to the view I have of the party and how I am angry that good people get pulled down in order for the “corporate democrats” to hold on to power. As a child growing up in my family, my mom did all she could to raise us to be good strong democrats. We helped her to campaign nationally and locally, we helped with precinct meetings, and we were encouraged to be involved, we even were pages. Mom would often talk around the kitchen table of her friend, the state party chair Barbara Allen. And I did not fully understand all that was being done in the name of the party at the time, but, what I gleaned from these conversations and activities was generally warm and peaceful. I could not see that the people in power were out for their own self interests and not the interest of the democratic party as a whole. As I now reflect back, I wonder would my mom have continued to support these corporate democrats? I would like to think she too would have been fighting mad.
Currently, I see a struggle going on within the party at time when we really should be banding together, after all, we are no longer the majority party. I have come to the realization, that does not really matter. What does matter, depends on your perspective. For the elected officials, it is how can I use the party to retain my power? Generally, this group of democrats does not like change and they really don’t like a lot of change. They will fight at all costs to maintain the status quo. The monster you know is better than the monster you don’t know kind of thing. Then there is the party activist. These people fall into two basic categories, the grassroot activists or all of the others. And this is where the fight for soul of the party is taking place. I have watched people, who would under any other circumstances, be strong loyal democrats, do and say things that not only hurt the people but hurt the party as a whole. Since Jerry Meek was chair, the party has been in a bit of turmoil. Part of this turmoil I blame Jerry for, he should of groomed leaders within the party and did not do it. But the larger battle is that of who has the power. I would like to think that the power is from the ground up, I bet you can figure where I stand, but that is not where it happens to be, it is with the money. (Another reason citizen’s united is such an unfortunate ruling.) As it was when Parker was chair, Voller faces resistance at every juncture because “power to the people” is not what the party stands for or so “they” say.
According to the POO, the Plan of Organization, the precincts are the building blocks and make up the foundation of the party. All the power rises from having the precincts organized and active, is a utopian view of the power of the party. The actual power is with the money. And back in the Barbara Allen tenure, that was how it was done. The SEC, the State Executive Committee, was a pretty harmonious group of people. That is not to say they did not have differences but they had one thing in common, they had money. At least most of them did which kept those that didn’t from rocking the boat too much. In 2010 when David Young was chair and asleep at the wheel might I add, the tax check off committee realized they no longer needed to be a rubber stamp and took control of the monies which turned out to be a rather sizeable sum of money. This was the year power was being returned to the grassroots activist. The district chairs divided up the money and went back to their districts and used the money to help get democrats elected. It was a bit haphazardly executed but the intent was well received. In 2011, Parker was elected chair. The beginning of Parker term he was relatively uneventful, he hired Jay Parmely as the ED. The data was being analyzed and the targets were set.I remember the executive council meeting in which we were discussing the races that were of interest. The activist were fully involved in the workings of the party. They were being included and consulted more and more making the paid consultants very nervous. In early 2012, Jay Parmely was falsely accused of sexual harassment. The corporate dems could not tolerate the party being delivered to the activist without a fight. By the SEC meeting that year, Jay had been silenced and a tactical move was made by some of the members of the council of state to impeach Parker. But the activist were not going to go quietly and mounted a counter offensive. Parker emerged from that meeting as a hampered chair but very much alive. If it hadn’t been for the democratic national convention, we would of been more focused and maybe not have lost so much ground. As it was, Parker finished his term beligered and tired.
Both Parker and Randolph S. Voller were considered progressive chairs, but Voller even more so. He was not expected to win. And the corporate dems lead ironically, by the young democrats had galvanized behind Mansfield, a preapproved team player. When he had to drop out of the race unexpectedly citing his mother’s health, there was no one to take his place. The young democrats scrambled to find a replacement. All they could come up with was apathetic Bob Etheridge. Lucky for Randy, or should I say lucky for the grassroots activist, Randy emerged as the chairman of the party. ( A fact the status quo dems do not want to acknowledge.) With the battle lines drawn, the young democrats picked up the fight were the council of state had left off. They were ascending in the ranks the proper way, not shaking the boat while doing it. Randy came in with good intentions and realized that he had a bit of housecleaning to do first. Afterall, Parker though survived the battles it was not without a cost. So when Randy came in, he was surprised, surprised, surprised. Not only did he inherited a ED that was doing the work for the status quo and not much money had been raise. There was not more tax checkoff money even though the committee was searching for a way to stay relevant. And to top it off, the consultants had been running oppositional research not against the republicans but against Randy, Gwen and several of Randy’s friends. The corporate democrats were digging their heels into the sand and were preparing for the long haul. I am not sure if Randy knew the toil this would take, if he would have seeked the position of chair. But he was in it now and one thing the young dems did not calculate, Randy is not a quitter. He encouraged the acting executive director to resign and he started raising money retiring debt that had been on the books for some time. But what bothered the status quo more than anything was his willingness to share responsibilities with the grassroots. It did not help that he went public with the Lexis Nexis research either.
Now fast forward to the present, the POO states that the chair puts forth the name of the person they want to be approved by the executive council for the executive director’s position. Boy, the corporate democrats must of really been threaten by Randy’s choice, Ben Chavis because his name had not even been submitted yet before the “machine” had been put into full gear and the talking points were distributed to all the status quo types and they did not disappoint. Almost in unison opposition to Ben had been mounted due to the firing of the ED that as far as I could tell was an appendage of the Kay Hagan campaign at best and a mole for the status quo at worst. While he has been here just under a year, had not even bothered to register to vote in the state , already missing one election. He had been doing a mediocre job but to hear the YD’s talk he was the best thing since slice bread. He was not at all receptive to grassroots of the party and paid no attention to details. He was rude to and insubordinate both privately and publicly of Randy. He denied doing requests made of him both by Randy and the Council, like setting up the recurring donor program. He would forget to have the Goodwin House open for meetings for example, saying it was Tiffany’s fault. “No , you are the ED, it is your fault.” How much did he cost us for the Sanford Hunt Frye, Reception? Where was that in the budget he presented to the SEC? In general he was equally disliked among the grassroots activist, and the corporate dems and YD’s loved him. I wonder did he sabotage their efforts like he did the grassroots? Many had been calling for his demise for quite some time. And when it did happen, he was arrogant to the point of almost being belligerent. Had he not read the plan of organization (he works at the pleasure of the chair), or had the read it and not believed Randy was serious? Either way, he was terminated. Now, what will the status quo dems do now?