Sunday, November 9, 2008

When You Have To Rely on Bredesen

It seems that bloggers are having a field day with the Tennessee Democrat Party. Particularly governor Phil Bredesen and chairman of the Tennessee Democrat Party, Gray Sasser. Apparently, being the son of Jim Sasser isn't enough to run a state-wide party. I won't go into the details of various bloggers complaints. I am not privy to how either party's state operations are conducted. But I will say this: if you have to rely on Bredesen "to do something", you are already off on the wrong track. Granted, he is preferable over the the idiot he succeeded, Don Sundquist. But still!

I've been involved in several presidential campaigns for Michael Badnarik and Ron Paul, having served as county chairman for the Knox County Libertarian Party from 2002-2004 in addition to doing the legwork, phone calls, etc... that are associated with political races, I will say this: if you don't have a strong grassroots organization, you will lose especially at the local level.

I was born in 1976, and so I have a foot in both the Gen-X/MTV Generation camp and the "Net Generation" camp. It’s my experience that folks older than I am (especially people of my grandparents’ age – they were born around 1920) tend to look to central authority for guidance, whatever the setting might be. It’s not that they can’t exercise initiative, they’re just reluctant to use it; they tend to defer to guidance issued by “experts”, which is presumably better than their own judgment. I think this has to do with having grown up in a world that was “run by experts”– whether it was the Great Depression, World War II, the Fabulous Fifties, it was a world run (sometimes better and mostly worse) by an elite that was seen by many to have all the answers. And for a while, that world worked pretty well or so it seemed, especially after 1945.

People my age or of my parent's generation to a lesser extent grew up in a world in which it seemed the “wheels were coming off”. The 1960's was about Vietnam, Rock N' Roll, youth rebellion, etc... The economy basically went sideways (or worse) from the 1970's through the early 1980's. The Seventies weren’t anywhere near as bad as the Thirties, but from our perspective, still pretty bad. As I see it, looking back, it was a time when the “rule by experts” failed to deliver the goods, because it had reached the limits of what it could do.

Ronald Reagan, for all his faults, was such a breath of fresh air after the Suffocating Seventies. His message of smaller government and more reliance on individual effort and initiative was music to many people’s ears. Even as a kid, I was inspired. And his message worked. The ’80s were Good Times:

1) a roaring economy. Anybody out there remember the “misery index” from the Carter years? And do we hear about it now? I think not, and I think we all know why);

2) a Soviet Union in full retreat, after it seemed unstoppable just a few years before, and on its way to the dustbin of history; and most importantly of all,

3) ordinary people finally getting the message that they were indeed masters of their own fates, instead of being told that they were mere playthings of the experts.

Reagan’s message reverberates to this day. I think young people still want to “get involved”, but they’re not receptive to the “vibe” of “central direction” coming out of high places, a vibe leftover from the 40's and ’50s that failed so spectacularly in the 60's and ’70s.

All of which, is just a long-winded way of saying that if young people aren’t “getting their needs met”, it may be because the TNDP HQ and its field personnel are stuck in the past, and their message is turning off the young.

And the worst part of it is that the senior folks in the TNDP just don’t get it – the old ways worked for them, and now they can’t understand why they aren’t working today, or understand why those old ways are so repellent to young people. Kind of like Phil Fulmer who recently stepped down (fired) as head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers football team.

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