Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Democrats went down to Salemtown

A few days ago a volunteer with the local Democratic Party came through Salemtown asking for my own volunteer support and money donations for the party in the run-up to the next election. I told him frankly that I was way more liberal than Tennessee Democrats, that I am frustrated that they do not at least attempt to include some liberal tenets beyond cheap-ass social progressivism that ignores structural exploitation, and that I've had enough of the GOP-lite rule of the Bredesen-Dean wing of the party. I told him frankly, "No."

Despite his own ardent beliefs that things are changing in the party in the wake of TNDEM's red-state abdications and the White House's capitulations to Republicans I remain unconvinced. I cannot afford to contribute to or waste my time working with surrender-monkey Democrats and indentured volunteers who only get jazzed around election time but not about everyday politics.

I understand that I could be accused at this point of not wanting to work toward anything constructive with even the most marginal gains, choosing instead only to criticize. But there are several problems with such an accusation. First, I am involved in local politics; just not at the party level. Second, if those of us who are frustrated with Democrats just keep going back and working with them, they won't ever change.

Third and most importantly, because loyalty matters so much to a certain faction of Democrats in power, even if those of us who are not loyal start offering "constructive alternatives" (and "constructive" is typically a relative qualifier that has more to do with patronage than reform) they will be rejected by elites who do not want to jeopardize their positions by cavorting with disloyalty. In the 1960s, NYC urban renewal critic and community organizer Jane Jacobs pursued a then radical alternative to developer-controlled tear-downs and builds: an attempt to build affordable housing designed by the Greenwich Village neighborhood, for the Greenwich Village neighborhood. She had to go outside of New York to get architects to design the project because those in NYC were afraid of alienating the power structure and losing out on more lucrative projects by working with her association.

The same dynamic is at work in the Democratic Party. Those with some influence who may be sympathetic do not bother to support those of us who might recommend "something more positive" from the left lest they lose what little hegemony the party fat cats and campaign brokers have allowed them to enjoy. So, why risk proposing constructive alternatives that would be slapped back while generating the perception that we proposers are not able catalysts for change? It is much more realistic for watchdogs and critics on the left to play the hands dealt than to play ball with the Democrats.

I was careful to draw a distinction between the party and the volunteer, and the fellow soliciting me was just pleased that he was in a part of town not Green Hills, where Republicans were slamming doors in his face. Nonetheless, this Democratic Party will not be enjoying the support I've given them in the past in any future scenario that I can see. They just need to stop coming around and asking for my time and money.

1 comment:

  1. Dems in Nashville are like the national Republican Party.

    They have Tea Baggers. We have the Latte Liberals like Karl Dean, Megan Barry, etc.

    Though, I'd say our Latte Liberals are more insidious than the Tea Party.

    At least the Tea Party comes out and is ready to say who they are.

    Our Latte Liberals hide under a cloak of public relations and house parties.