With a huge tip of the hat to Eric Lykins at Knoxviews, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) said Tuesday that he “thinks the Democratic Party is soulless or scared”. From the article:
“I don’t think we have a battle for our soul — I think we have lost our soul,” he said. “We have been cowed into [sic] stop talking about the things that made us Democrats in the first place; that we believe the government can and should make a difference in people’s lives; that we can protect the most vulnerable in our society; that we can, in fact, give opportunities to people who haven’t had it. And that government can be an important catalyst — they can’t do it by itself — but they can be a catalyst for growth.”
That’s what we believe in. But [Republicans] have us cowering behind the shower curtains,” he concluded.
When I first read this, I was angry. Why would a nationally recognized Democratic leader state in a public forum ANYTHING about his party losing their soul. Then I saw the context and it started to make a little more sense.
Last night on the Rachel Maddow Show, Rendell expounded on this line.
The problem is that I STILL disagree with Rendell. The Democratic Party hasn’t lost it’s soul, but some members have lost the faith. We don’t need to go out and find our soul, we need an old time southern revival to get back to the principles that make us Democrats.
Moreover, we’re not, or at least shouldn’t be scared, particularly of the Tea Party movement. Sure, they’ve gained a lot of national media attention, and they seem like this behemoth, but the fact of the matter is that active Tea Partiers only make up 4% of the total population according to a recent Gallup Poll. Self-ID Tea Partiers, the people who say they are but don’t participate, only make up 18% of the population and vote Republican anyway.
The 18 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Tea Party supporters tend to be Republican, white, male, married and older than 45.
Why in God’s name would I be worried about some people who were never going to vote my way anyway and make up a MINORITY of the Republican Party?
The reality is, this is just the last throes of the Angry White Male. Chris Peck from the Commercial Appeal had a good Editorial earlier this month.
What I most regret about the red-faced renaissance of the Angry White Male is the sense that they are being used. Used to make ratings. Used to try to raise money in politics. Used to further agendas that quite possibly are against their own best interests.
And there is something more. We all know someone whose anger turned to paranoia, then to the point of being unhinged. In our open, well-armed society, that moment can be deadly, as it was in Oklahoma City and Ruby Ridge, and could well be again on April 19 when the radical anti-government fringe often rallies to show their rage.
A generation from now, the Angry White Males will mostly be old men.
I would argue that they already are old men, regardless of their actual age.
Why would anybody be scared of these people? I don’t get it. If you’re a Democrat and an elected official, or seeking office, there’s only two reasons to be scared:
1. You don’t really believe in the principles of the Democratic Party.
2. You haven’t been taking care of business. (constituent outreach, informing the public, etc.)
If you’re a Democrat and you don’t believe in the principles of the Democratic Party, well, I got nothing for ya. Sucks to be you.
If you haven’t been spending enough time with your constituents, then regardless of the Tea Partiers, or whatever, you should be worried, but not scared. You still have time to repair the damage you’ve done to yourself. You still have time to restore faith in your leadership. You still have time, but you better be ready to fight for it.
If you’re a Democrat, and in office, that may be something to worry about, but the reality is, Republicans make up the MAJORITY of the incumbents in this state (51 in the House, 19 in the Senate). So while your fortunes as an incumbent may not look so good, if every incumbent in the State Legislature got defeated (which is HIGHLY unlikely), Democrats take the majority. Which is the single biggest thing I’m personally focused on.
So, now we know we gotta fight and we know our incumbents are facing an uphill battle. How should we do it? Well, since the Tea Partiers only make up, at the most, 18% of the population, it doesn’t make any sense to “fight” by genuflecting to their skewed world-view. You weren’t going to get their vote anyway.
What makes sense is taking off that suit and getting your butt out in your district to talk to your people, on their level.
What makes sense, is going to the Party organizations in your district and getting them fired up about working to get you elected.
What makes sense is talking to activists, advocates, and people who share and can help you articulate your vision to the rank and file voters to help spread your message.
Being or acting scared doesn’t make any sense at all.
As a Democrat, I can say with no equivocation that “I ain’t skeert”. I’m not scared of being a Democrat in this political environment. I’m not scared of Democratic principles. I am worried about the Democratic brand in this state, and in the nation. I am worried about winning back the State Legislature and the Governor’s office. I use that worry to motivate me to action rather than hide my principles and pray we skirt by one more time.
This election in November, if it’s anything, is a “Come to Jesus” moment for Democrats in Tennessee. It’s an opportunity to distinguish ourselves and show that we have the right ideas at the right time for the people of this state. We have to seize this opportunity now. If we don’t, it’s going to be a hard slog for us for a very long time.
I ain’t skeert, and you shouldn’t be either. The pity party ends now. Get off your butt and let’s get it done.