Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Mike Wherter's campaign needs prayers, keep your votes
Last week, President Clinton was in town campaigning for the Tennessee Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mike McWherter. The fundraiser was billed as the Democratic event to attend this election season and was sure to unite the Tennessee Democrats. Old Bill without Hil was meant to electrify the diehard old-timers and to transfer Clinton's energy to McWherter's lifeless campaign. I was not in attendance but I was wired for updates. Clinton’s visit has me wondering, what is happening to Tennessee Democrats, especially, professional black voters in the party? When I look at the demographics of those that have been supporters of the party’s inclusiveness, I question if anyone is noticing the absence of men and women of color on the stage at fund-raising events.
Now, I know some folks maybe holding on to the nostalgic days of Governor McWherter but folks his son is not the same type of politician. Hearing Mr. McWherter speak has an anesthetizing dumbing down effect on me. His sentences usually start with “my diddy” and “Governor Bredesen”. After spouting those four words, little else is really understandable. I call him “Arizona lite” because he mentions Arizona more than he mentions Tennessee the few times I was able to translate a few of his stump speeches. I know that sounds harsh and cruel but many are noticing his lack of political savvy.
Prior to the election of the country's First Black President, President Obama, many black folks loved President Clinton dearly, even with his baggage. Remember when Clinton was called the first black President? My, how time flies. With that kind of love and affection known about the people of color for President Clinton, why would the Tennessee Democratic Party pull a Glenn Beck styled event with one person of color on the program? Instead of having Representative John Deberry of Memphis to share words of support for McWherter, he was asked to pray. With as many Tennessee mega churches with rock star preachers who can influence thousands with an “amen”, none graced the stage to bless the audience. While the Representative who has influence on thousands in a predominantly black district, was given the role that is usually designated for a preacher in the community. I hope Deberry was praying hard for McWherter, because he is going to need a legion of angels to help him get elected. By no means am I suggesting that there was something wrong with Deberry praying at the occasion, but the event was very telling about how McWherter's camp is out of touch with reaching out to all people.
McWherter’s part-time Democrat campaign lacks diversity that is craved by the usual Democratic base. McWherter is teetering close to Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer's ideology and her lack of ability to articulate her stance on issues. As I have stated before, it is easy to point the finger at Republicans who are seen as exclusive. But many must be willing to call a spade a spade when Democrats are guilty of the same actions. Tennessee Democrats are doing a lousy job of being inclusive and working very hard to include the fringed voices that are creeping into mainstream political conversations and debates daily. My grandfather often warned his grandchildren about not taking the right to vote for granted. He said that the faithful that vote early and often won’t be considered by any political party worthy of being courted or counted because of those who squandered their influence by not voting. Daddy was ahead of his time. In this mid-term campaigning season, black folks are being discounted in many Democratic campaigns, even right here in Tennessee. Remember Andrew Jackson Day? Black folks were included only if they bought a ticket and showed up. There was no representation of people of color who have long been considered the faithful base of the Democratic Party on stage. You think I am talking nonsense? Look at the line up for the highly promoted affair. Tributes were paid to outgoing Democratic leaders; Governor Phil Bredesen, Congressmen Bart Gordon and John Tanner. Scheduled remarks at the cheer-a-thon were made by Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester, Congressmen Jim Cooper and Lincoln Davis, State Senator and Congressional Candidate Roy Herron, Gubernatorial Candidate Mike McWherter, and Clinton’s VP, Al Gore. The keynote speaker was Vice President, Joe Biden. The lineup was all white males over fifty. No women, minorities, or young folks spoke on the program. Interesting. At Davidson County Democratic Unity Day, the stage was absence of color as well . Throw a rock and you might hit a black Democrat office holder in Davidson County. And folks are questioning me for writing about Mayor Haslam's visit to Jefferson Street. Kool aide alert!
Let us go deeper. Look at the women of color that are elected state officials. Are any of them active with McWherter’s campaign? Think. But McWherter trots out Mayor Dean, former Congressman Tanner, and Governor Bredesen to talk about the wonderful things his father did as Governor. If he is elected, none of these men will be able to help push his legislative agenda. Hello, anyone home? I attended a McWherter event to hear a stump speech. Within ten minutes, I was calling out to Baby Jesus for him to stop rambling. I was begging for the event to end. Begging! I could barely tweet as I struggled with remarks that were borderline condescending in many ways. “Y’all know my diddy was good to y’all” can only get you so far with young folks. But by the looks on the faces of some of the mature voters in the room, they were struggling with the remarks too. I could not nibble on the beautiful bounty on my plate because I was fighting back vomit. Yuk. I asked a few questions that he did not have answers too and he made a snide comment about bloggers. I am a blogger with a syndicated column. Not good.
McWherter is not only the one overlooking folks. Everyone is testing the “you don’t count cause you don’t vote anyway” thinking that was brought on the community by folks not going to the polls to vote. Look at political new comer and cute as a button state senate candidate, Jeff Yarbro. Yarbo could have beaten the snot out of Douglas Henry if he had stepped up his game in the black and the Hispanic community. One thing we know at the Tribune; in local races, old folks vote while young folks eat your food, pose for pictures and shout “change”. He ran a campaign that even the old heads admired but he did not include the Tennessee Tribune in his campaign budget. Opps! His competitor was inclusive in his marketing and met with several ethnic newspapers. Who do you think Tribune readers voted for? Right or wrong for the job, voters want to know their politicians know they exist. When you lose an election by less than twenty votes, an ad or two in the most widely read black newspaper would have eliminated nightly tossing that Yarbro is probably enduring right now. You know he is wondering what the hell he could have done differently. But then again color folks were not courted. Don’t get me wrong, I really, really liked Yarbro and reached out to him several times to meet with the publisher but that is water for another bridge.
Y’all can keep looking at me sided eye because of my blog about Mayor Haslam. I only posted what he said. Do not let your vote be taken for granted; your vote is as important as you make it. In the meantime, I am headed to Knoxville this weekend. Folks up there know how to dialogue with a blogger from 1501 Jefferson Street!
Photo credit...I got off his website because this photo sums up exactly what I am thinking!