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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Shoot the Democrats

In their frenzy to turn around their political fortunes,  the Democrats show that they can get quite as irrational and strike out in anger just as much as Trump and his anti-democratic collaborators.  I keep running across internet posts that make Hillary Clinton responsible for taking the first bite of the Eden serpent's apple and, therefore, causing the demise of the Democratic Party.  And posts demanding that all leadership of the party be rounded up and, a  la Donald Trump,  fired.  The only thing these demands leave out is the part about showing them the way to the gas ovens.  Where else does the complainants think the dispossessed Democrats will go?  

I am not suggesting that the Democrats have not fucked up.  In fact, I am suggesting ways in which they have fucked up.  And a prime example of a colossal fuck up is in demanding the firing and resignation of all the leadership of the party.  If such a thing were to happen,  does anyone think that all these people would meekly stay in the party?  Or would they look for other parties with which to ally?  Perhaps the opposing party?  Or perhaps become independent so they would no longer identify with the Democratic Party but will vote against the party that dispossessed them?

There is no doubt that the leadership needs to be changed.  But what needs to be changed is the way of doing political business.  In getting all red-faced and strident and uttering the astoundingly brilliant recommendation that the Democratic Party needs to attract the younger voters and more voters in the same breath demanding the expulsion of the current leaders, those shouters for change do not seem to realize how loudly they are broadcasting their stupidity to the world.  They put on a demonstration as absurd, chaotic, and as caught up in malevolent rivalry as the Trump White House.  They complain about party disarray at the same time they are putting on the biggest demonstration of it. What voter, young or old, wants to ally with a party that sends messages of exclusion and inclusion in the same breath?

I think of a good loyal Democrat I worked with for many years.  He contributed generously to the party with money.  Whenever we had telephone campaigns or mailings to get out,  he and his wife would show up to help.  Back then we had telephone trees to inform members when we needed help.  Those telephone trees were made obsolete by answering machines and the Internet.  People may see e-mails or social media posts announcing events and asking for help, but they do not produce responses.  But now instead of telephoning people and mailing things to them, we rely upon the Internet media, despite the evidence that it is not very effective. Or that we don't know how to use it to obtain consistent results.  

One evening when we had a massive mailing to get out, we put out call for help to stuff envelopes, and apply mailing labels.  My friend and his spouse, who was having some health problems at the time, showed up.  The person who was trying to coordinate the effort was in a bitchy mood.  When my friend had a question, that person in-charge responded in a manner that was demeaning and insulting.  Minutes later,  I saw my friend and his spouse slip out the door.

The next day I saw him in the grocery store and I asked him if something was wrong the previous night.  I thought perhaps his spouse had not felt well and had to leave.  That was part of it.  The little confrontation the night before was disturbing to her.  And, my friend said,  "As a Democrat, I could wander into the Republican headquarters with my campaign buttons on and be treated the same way."  Shortly, thereafter, the couple moved out of town, and I was informed that they had decided that the atmosphere in town was no longer friendly, so they moved to be nearer to a family member, even though they knew no one else in the town they moved to.  

Treating people with respect and consideration is a part of human communication.  The personal contacts with people representing the party is a crucial determiner of how people regard it. Another example concerns the loss of financial and political support for the party.  For many years, the county party relied upon the support of a labor union pac.  It was, in fact, the single biggest donor.  It not only provided cash, but during major campaigns it organized men to come in to the campaign headquarters and set up a telephone bank as an in kind donation. 

When some legislation came up that adversely affected union workers,  the unions complained.  A person in a prominent Democratic office made the comment, using the favorite South Dakota denigration, that the unions were always "whining" about something.  I have no idea about who heard the comment,  but I was informed of it within the day.  We never heard from the union pac again, and they changed their policy to supporting individual candidates rather than party organizations.

Another example of how the party damages itself occurred during a state convention.  There  was a contest over electing delegates to the national party.  Factions squared off in the political down-and-dirty and a lot of manipulation and undercutting went on.  When it was over, the winning faction gloated over its political acumen. A few of us raised the question of whether such tactics were appropriate for internal decisions.  We were concerned about the hard feelings they generated.

Two years later when the county party met to name candidates for delegates,  no one submitted their names for consideration.  The delegate from our county ended up being a person who never attended county functions,  did not know people in the party or the stance on the issues it had formulated, and has never participated since.  

Attrition is a big factor in the Democratic party's declining numbers in South Dakota.  But the ways party members conduct themselves and conduct party business is at root a serious problem.  When people vote for Trump because they feel the national party has ignored them,  the blame cannot be placed on the national party.  The way party members trust people is how people judge the party, and all the public relations puffery in the world cannot change that perspective.  The national party cannot,, probably, sponsor Ms. Manners workshops for the local parties,  but one must ask why lessons in respect and courtesy are needed.  The Democrats are largely the progenitors of Political Correctness, which is carried to unthinking extremes at times,  but they seem unable to grasp the fundamentals of human relationships.

So they talk of getting rid of the leadership and inviting new, younger members.  And the future of the party diminishes.  

1 comment:

Roger Cornelius said...

Hillary Clinton didn't give us Trump, nor did the Democratic leadership, nor did Russia, Democrats gave us Trump.
During the primary and well into the general election Bernie Sanders supporters were as vile as republicans in their campaign against Hillary. I deleted numerous Democrats on social media for their insults and hate filled comments about Hillary. Many of those Democrats promised that under no circumstances would they vote for Hillary. Even when Bernie committed to Hillary and much of his platform was incorporated into here platform, the hate continued.
Democrats believed in all those wrong polls while seriously underestimating Donald Trump and the ignorance of the American voter.

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