Thursday, July 20, 2017
And now, a word from Corey Strong
First, a personal note: I like Thurston Smith and believe he is a good man who has things to offer our community. However, over the last few years I have also gotten to know Corey Strong very well and have an understanding of what he would bring to the office of Chair of the new Shelby County Democratic Party. I support his candidacy. Below is an essay of what he believes the Party and its supporters must do to reverse the local losses we have suffered in the last few years:
Life Lessons to turn Shelby County Blue
SCDP has a big convention coming up in two days that will catapult Democrats into our near future and has the potential of creating seismic shifts in the way our area is governed and the values that our community pursues. I have been a part of this process as TNDP Executive Committeeman in District 33 as the Community Outreach Chair of the SCDP Re-Org AdHoc Committee and I heard a laundry list of feedback from Democrats throughout the county. They were varied in tone, variety, and detail. But I can summarize it into one sentence. Democrats are the majority in Shelby County but are too afraid and disorganized to show it at the polls.
Now, I place the reasons why Democrats don’t vote for Democrats into 3 categories that can best be described through life lessons I have learned from some of the best teachers and mentors I have had the privilege of knowing. First, you have to be Brilliant at the Basics. Then, you have to make sure you Ride the Right Horse. And, finally always Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.
Brilliant at the Basics. I worked for a Captain on one of my warships in the Navy. This Captain took over a ship with all types of material problems and very low morale and he had to prepare the ship for an upcoming deployment. While everyone was concerned about high level combat systems training and complex battle problems, he understood if you don’t do the little things like fix things that are broken, you can never move to the bigger items.
The first reason Democrats don’t vote for Democrats in Shelby County is because the party has failed at the basics. The SCDP must talk to its base, use that conversation to define its values and platform, and put a basic plan in place to execute on that platform. Elections, and policy campaigns, rallies and fundraisers are all important. But if you don’t talk to your voters and communicate a platform and plan to address their issues, they won’t vote at elections, participate in campaigns, march at your rallies or give you money. The SCDP must be the home of democratic values over anything else.
Ride the Right Horse. I used to work with this older guy who was one of the most perceptive people I ever met. When he met a person, he could see to their core immediately and was rarely wrong about who they really were. He’d also avoid close contact with people who he felt weren’t genuine. We were talking one day and he told me that he learned this lesson on a farm. There was one horse he really liked because it was pretty and always came to him when it was feeding time. We he wanted to ride it, his uncle told him that this wasn’t his horse. As the story goes, the first time he rode the horse, the horse behaved for a while but eventually went wild and threw him off. He then heard that warning in his head and realized his uncle could see something in the horse be he couldn’t. Well, he made it his mission to learn to judge each horse well and carried that lesson over to his interactions with people. He’d say, “If you ride the wrong horse, eventually it’s going to let you down. Just pray when it does that it’s not hard and on your arse!”
The second reason we don’t vote for Democrats is because the SCDP has a bad habit of riding the wrong horse—read people— as candidates. A candidate needs to be one people can believe in. That belief resides in people who have a strong professional record/reputation, demonstrated a spirit of service, haven’t lost multiple elections in the past, and pledge to support the values and platform of the party. We have frequently supported major candidates who have poor and sometimes no professional/civic reputation or who have lost election after election. And when they get into office saying they will support our vague platform, they consistently work against that for their own personal gain with no accountability from the SCDP. Without a good horse, you cannot win a race. The SCDP must find strong candidates who support our democratic values.
Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. I’m reminded of this lesson constantly from the best teacher/advisor I know—my Mother. I have the habit of getting distracted by any number of hobbies and adventures that may present themselves (One of those things I can’t put down is salsa dancing but it’s really fun and you should try it; but, I digress). I like to ask for advice from my parents and I’m blessed to have two rocks I can depend on. My dad will get in to the details with me at times because he is curious like me. But my mom’s refrain is as dependable and etched in my brain as a refrain in one of those red Baptist Church Hymnals. She’ll sing right on cue, “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.” Fun, cool, exciting, and adventurous all have their place but you have to stay true to the main thing that sustains you. She usually means my job but I think it could mean anything that defines you and who you want to be.
The third reason we don’t vote for Democrats is because the SCDP doesn’t stay focused on the main thing which is our values. Elections and winning are fun and so are all the little things that come with that. But the purpose of all of it is to make sure our values are present in our community and its governance. We have had any number of LOCAL issues that SCDP should be a champion on a daily basis. An economy too strongly based on low income jobs, government that doesn’t spread resources to communities in need, threats to our clean water and greenspaces, discrimination based on people’s background or lifestyle, opportunity for a good education, protection of and access to healthcare particularly for woman, and the list goes on. These are all issue that have dominated the new cycle locally in one way or another and that the SCDP and “big D” elected officials have to be better champions of, or why did we elect you in the first place. We cannot stop being democrats after elections and we can never stop working to install our values in our community. The SCDP must champion its democratic values in and out of election season.
If the SCDP becomes the true home of democratic values, attracts good candidates to run on those values, and champions those values day in and out, we will not only win elections but see a truly blue Shelby County that is a clear reflection of our values. This is what Democrats have been telling me since the charter was pulled and if we listen to them, they will come back home to the party.
Finally, I think I have the right plan to address those concerns and ‘right the ship’ so to speak. Please check out my bio here to learn a little more about me: https://www.facebook.com/electcoreyostrong/ I look forward to meeting people Saturday at the convention and convincing you over the next few weeks that I am the right person to restore the SCDP. Feel free to contact me on my page or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions for me. And no matter the outcome, I hope that the SCDP listens closely to what the people are saying because there no reason for anyone to afraid to say they are a Democrat.