Saturday, April 09, 2011

Congratulations and Good Luck, You're Gonna Need It

On a day when Larry Finch was buried and Ned McWherter memorialized (in the first of TWO services), the Shelby County Democratic Party met at American Way Middle School to re-organize in Phase 2 of their convention.

To the shock of absolutely no one, Van Turner was re-elected Chair of a much smaller Executive Committee, with no other name being placed in nomination. Attorney Curtis Johnson announced yesterday that he would seek the office; however, it was apparent that he had not organized, as none of his supporters were elected to the ExecCom.  Turner smartly brought him onstage, thanked Johnson for his candidacy, and asked for his help and support.

Turner correctly noted in his acceptance speech that the SCDP desperately needed to ensure that all who had participated in the Caucuses (phase 1, held two weeks ago) and today's Convention remain active as part of a real Ward and Precinct organization.  This, if done, would hopefully produce enough Democratic turnout to prevent another whipping during County elections in 2012.

Well, OK then.  At the top of this page, you see the county-by county 2010 Census numbers, and they show that Shelby County grew ever-so-slightly, but nowhere near the rate shown by neighboring suburban counties Tipton and Fayette in Tennessee, and Desoto in Mississippi.

I think you can learn a lot from another census map, the brilliant one created by the New York Times, in which you can go down to census tract level.  It is the Desoto County map that shows you why Shelby County Democrats have been losing votes in droves in county-wide elections, except for President, despite the exodus of white Republicans to Fayette and Tipton counties.

African-Americans, in particular MIDDLE-CLASS African Americans, are moving to our southern neighbors in droves.  This is why our inner city's population is shrinking, and these folks are the very base of any hope of Democratic dominance.

Why, you ask?  Because the higher the income level, the more likely you are to vote in EVERY election.  People who live below the poverty level, which is an increasing percentage of the City of Memphis, are far less likely to vote, PERIOD.  Those middle and upper-middle-class African Americans   leave and take their taxes and their VOTES with them, which only serves to injure the Democratic cause.

Look, I understand that A) the Election Commission's handling of the 2010 Election was spotty at best, but when you combine the fact that B) we had a weak ticket and C) fewer people likely to vote for us in this type of election and D) Democrats in the middle and eastern parts of the county were generally ignored, it led to the disaster we had last August.

Little of which, I might add, was Van Turner or the ExecCom's fault.  However, it is incumbent upon them to figure a way out of this morass, and I do not envy them.  Turner is absolutely correct when he says we need to keep people involved, and I want to add that they need to do serious outreach to all potential Democrats, because we need new blood at all levels.

This ExecCom will be hurt by the fact that our legislators in Nashville are powerless at the moment to stop the GOP onslaught against working and middle-class families.  Add to that the fact that Shelby is like to lose two state House members and one State Senator in redistricting, and it is not difficult to see that we are under siege.

The fact that the GOP has a stranglehold will make it difficult for the SCDP to raise money from sources to which they have traditionally looked; business no longer needs Democrats, and they never really LIKED us, any way.  This means we have to recapture the old way of getting votes, which is with shoe leather, canvassing and organizing, block by block, precinct by precinct, district by district.

If Van and the SCDP can at least make some headway on this (hopefully, with the help of thee and me), then we have a shot to make things better.

But they can't do it alone; the next SCDP Meeting is April 18 at the IBEW hall at 1870 Madison.  Why don't you show up and ask what you can do to help?  If you can't make it, check out their website and see who your District representatives are; they will really appreciate your help.

Think about it; as Ben Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or we will surely hang separately"!

1 comment:

sbanbury said...

What time is that meeting on the 18th?