Margaret Johnson, Walking the Talk

Today's live blog with Margaret Johnson has been postponed. But we do plan to reschedule.

In 2006, Polk County elected the first Democrats to the county commission in 12 years, the first Democratic sheriff in 8 years. Just as impressive, they turned around 700-vote deficit in their 2004 congressional race to a 1200-vote margin of victory.

County Democratic Party Chair Margaret Johnson attributes the turnaround to "walking the talk about what it means to be a democrat." She says, "Our party is becoming not just about elections but about our community. And we are doing good in our community. We are making a difference." Current community activities include road-side pick-ups, services for the needy, and fund-raising walks for conservation. "Even Republicans come up to me and say I may not agree with your politics but I sure like what you're doing."

She also cites hard work and a structure that can accommodate new volunteers. She gives credit for the current structure to former Chair Frances Parker who, along with then-precinct vice chair Mark Hufford, instituted a strategic planning overhaul two election cycles ago. "Before the strategic planning, our party was pretty fractured, pretty demoralized." The party continues to do a strategic plan re-evaluation after each election.

Click on the arrow to listen to Margaret's full explanation of how Polk County Democrats turned their county from a red to a purple, almost-blue one.

In the clip below, Margaret talks about her tenacious leadership style. "At first, I did a lot of leg work, phone calls, writing. As I did those things, I started finding people to take over. Now, my main thing is getting volunteers focused, making sure I find things for them to do, making sure we listen to their ideas and take them seriously."

Margaret has politics and hard work in her blood. She is the daughter of a former Tennessee attorney general. "I grew up having Al Gore, Sr., in my living room." She has served as a nurse in the Air Force, then got a degree in business, and has since worked in health administration. "I've always considered myself to be very patriotic and so proud that I live in America. And I want to feel that pride about my country and I will fight to get that returned."

Even with all the success, Margaret says, "Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting my own team." There is a small but vocal element in the county party who persist in calling her and other female party leaders "bitches." Margaret explains, "I just say 'I will not be spoken to in this manner,' and walk away or hang up." Unfortunately, according to Margaret,
some women have withdrawn and others have been unwilling to step into leadership positions because of this treatment.

I had a personal experience in 2004 with these same individuals. During a presentation my husband and I gave at a regular party meeting, these particular men talked loudly to each other and on their cell phones. After the show, several party officers told me they had tried confronting the individuals who regularly behave this way during most meetings. It only made things worse, they said. So, two years later, party leaders do their best to ignore these disruptions . . . while the party continues to succeed at the polls.


Soft-spoken power

I look forward to her live-blog session next week. As usual, this is superb, DQ. Thanks again for these interviews.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

She doesn't like to talk about it

but did you notice, A, that she's a vet?
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

I didn't.

They always say that if you want something big done, ask a busy person.

Would you ask her if she'd like to lead

Blue North Carolina Veterans and Military Families

Wow, Margaret has it going on!

Referring to reactions of local Republicans: "We may not agree with your politics but sure admire what you are doing."

And regarding the community service work their Dem party is engaging in: "Through our outreach efforts we are building a community."

Now, that is what being a Democrat is about, "walking the talk!"

Thank you DQ for bringing us this most excellent interview... and I have only watched the first video so far!

Off to watch the others.


strong Democratic woman. I could never get enough of hearing them. Awesome. Thanks for introducing us all to her, and to all the other Democratic role models, DQ.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

This is another winner DQ

I didn't know there were so many strong women out there. You are doing a wonderful thing here. They just keep getting better and better.

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.

Progressive Discussions

You ain't seen nothin' yet!

I haven't even started on mayors and house reps and well, you'll see.
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.

Tune in next week at noon

for the live blog. (I just got on the site. This was emailed to SD).

I'm sorry we had to postpone the live blog but I'm glad you all have a chance to get to know her before asking your questions. She IS amazing. And there are more and more quietly powerful women like her out there. You'll see . . .
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”
So enjoy the drama.