Mutiny on the Bow: Will the Progressives Actually Take Over the Tennessee Democratic Party?
Some mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore type exuberance is part of the brute force shown by what the kids like to call the Netroots. It helped Obama raise about seventy gazillion dollars during the Democratic primary. It sent Joe Lieberman into the waiting arms of the GOP (where he belongs, really, independent Democrat? What?). Now, that feeling has trickled down like supply side economics into the Tennessee left, reeling after a near calamitous take over of the state General Assembly after the last election cycle.
First, former Gore aide and Tucker Carlson stylist (ha) Chip Forrester is now in place as the chair of the party. Though his past associations don’t scream progressive, he is mouthing the right words and boasting having David Axelrod on speed dial. Now, TN bloggers are flexing some financial muscle by holding a succesful online fund raising drive.
The old heads, apparently, remain skeptical. When Forrester won, the establishment’s pick, Charles Bone and his crew were conspicuous in their silence. Then the establishment’s support on the Net set alight on various blogs decrying doom for the party now that the rabble rousers are in charge.
I understand their skepticism. Netrooters probably sound a lot like the activists who used to come into campaign offices making all sorts of demands that had no chance of working in the real world of TN politics. They never came in with checks or a list of names and addresses, just a nebulous “we,” which for all we knew could have meant that person and their extended family. They had no power so the powerful failed to tremble in their presence.
Now with the new attention to online fundraising, this has set the ‘roots apart from the old school activists. They come with an axe to grind yes but also the potential to raise money. This alone probably has many in the TN establishment in wait and see mode. The first shot across the bow doesn’t look all that impressive when pulled apart. The first day fundraising totals revealed $1,000 (woah!) but relatively few donors (hmm), which suggests a few motivated people with a few dollars lying about who wanted to prove a point. Yes, they reached a modest $3,000 goal when there’s no candidate out there, just some folks with computers. But what’s this going to look like in 2010?
Now, caveats abound. Yes, the ‘roots pushed Lieberman out on his butt during the primary, only to find his power restored by a Netroots hero (our President). Yes, it was shameful that we lost the House, but a wiley play by an old fashioned political master saved us from complete disaster. Power still lies in the hands of the establishment.
Hopefully Forrester will have a plan and will get started now on building up a war chest and volunteer lists. Hopefully he will encourage people to work on races other than the sexy statewide contests, and hopefully the big talkers out there, those complaining about the way the House races turned out will be willing to help out those Dems in conservative districts who are “Republican lite.”
I also hope that we will wait until after November 2010 to start bitching amongst ourselves (in public, no less). Chip, I’ll give you a hint from my experience; start engaging the players now and make everyone feel important. I guarantee you will have less sniping in the fall 2010. And try a double Windsor once in awhile, okay?