A Modest Invitation

The test of a viable political party is how well it works in the off-season when nobody is watching. It is easy to focus on the Party during a Presidential election year or when the Party is out of office and there is a crisis (Iraq, Afghanistan, gas prices, mortgage/credit crisis, climate change, etc, etc. -- the Bush disaster).

What is harder is to keep working when (a) President Obama is doing everything he can to fix all of the above, (b) the War ends, (c) credit starts to sprout, and (d) Beverly Perdue turns out to care more about the Party than her predecessor.

In the coming weeks, I will try to post some thoughts on where we can take our Party -- small dollar donating, continued increasing emphasis on door-to-door work and recruiting, continuing integration of the blogosphere with the Party apparatus in a viable way, etc.

We/you can shape the Party if we/you have the energy and the desire to do so. Jery Meek started us in the right direction -- if we are not careful, though, it can slip back into the Inside-the-Beltline big donor ways of just a short time ago.

What I would like to see, though, as I put my thoughts together (including those from two abortive "explorations" of NC Party Chairdom), is your practical suggestions of what would work at the National (that's where going back on the DNC can help), State (I'll be on the Executive Council for another 4 years), County (I've done the County Chair thing before - thankless, but important work), Precinct (been a P-Chair - my wife, Sally is ours now) and Auxiliary Organizations (as a former State YD President, I still believe that the Party is best served when it listens to its future leaders).

So -- here's an invitation: what will work? What do you want your Democratic Party to look like? Don't be shy -- but 'keep it real'.

Let's do this thing right.

David Parker


open up the slots

I would like to see term limits on how many times a person can serve on committees or represent us on national bodies.

I think it should be a rule that people can't be delegates to two consecutive presidential nominating conventions.

I really hated the fact that the Obama and Clinton campaigns could pick their endorsed candidates for delegates and these candidates got the their names placed first and in bold on our ballots. This should be done away with.

These are my first thoughts, I am sure more will be on the way.

Wake Forest won't play us anymore
Michigan last year
LSU - you are next

Elections as term limits?

I'm with you that the process of selecting/electing delegates at the state level needs fixing. But as for term limits for various party offices...isn't that just elections? Is there any committees in particular you are referring to?

I thought the endorsement letters were in bad form, too, but I know that there were some district delegate elections where this didn't help/hurt (I would remind you that all the male delegates in District 8 did NOT have endorsement letters).

I would support certain people having self-imposed term limits, just to allow new blood to come in, but I would be very hesitant about anything formal.

incumbants have the advantage

Unless there is a massive uprising, incumbants have the advantage so that is why I am all for term limits.

Wake Forest won't play us anymore
Michigan last year
LSU - you are next

Thanks for posting this.

Maybe this should be BlueNC's topic of this week?


PS I'm all on board for any plan that will break the iron grip of insider politics. I'm not very optimistic about it happening, but I'm glad to help brainstorm. Assuming you don't mind input from my unaffiliated self.


Brainstorming from the unaffiliated

Brainstorm away -- good ideas are not limited to those of us who wear the label -- its the ideas that count. David Parker

David Parker

I'd like to see a Democratic Party that is interested

in holding it's elected representatives accountable to the people for their actions...and if those actions aren't in the best interests of the people, to see the party actively campaign against re-electing those people. Local, State and Federal.

Mike McIntyre is an example of a Democrat that ought to be replaced. So is Joe Hackney. There are others.

Stan Bozarth

Joe Hackney??


I was wonderin' about that myself

Joe has helped saved the day on some big stuff - and seems to have won grudging respect from all sides, despite being a Chapel Hill communist.

Joe Hackney?

Joe Hackney be replaced?

Great idea. Let's take the most ethical, fairminded, intelligent and straight-shooting member of either house of the General Assembly, one who has risen to the Speaker's chair precisely because of that well-deserved reputation, and replace him.

Sure, Stan.

About Hackney....From the Wilmington Star-News

The public pays the price

Published: Saturday, July 19, 2008 at 8:40 p.m.

Forces that routinely treat the state's open-government laws with contempt have won another round. Blame N.C. House Speaker Joe Hackney, who used his power to block a bill that would have put some teeth into laws asserting the public's right to know the public's business.

Mr. Speaker didn't like the part that would require public boards and agencies to pay the lawyers' bills of residents or news organizations forced to sue to get information that, by law, belongs to us all. The current law only allows judges to order payment of attorney fees. Recent cases have shown the weakness in that provision.

Ask the Chatham County woman who won her case against the county Elections Board but was stuck with more than $30,000 in legal bills because the judge didn't think the board meant to break the law. He ordered that the board pay only 10 percent of the plaintiff's bills. Ignorance of the law apparently is an excuse when you're with the government.

The problem is that agencies or boards have no particular incentive to pay attention to the law because they face virtually no punishment for breaking it. No fines, certainly no jail time.

This lack of meaningful consequences makes it easy for an aide to the governor to order e-mails deleted, for county commissioners to hold secret meetings in violation of the open meetings law and for public employees to refuse requests for documents and other public information.

Sen. David Hoyle, a Gaston County Democrat, is to be commended for trying to correct this serious flaw. Throughout the process, lobbyists for cities, counties and hospitals worked to kill the provision. Yet it passed the Senate unanimously, only to die in the House at the hands of one man - Hackney - who wouldn't allow it to be heard.

When Hackney took over as speaker from the felon Jim Black, he pledged that the House under his watch would operate more ethically.

Apparently it's ethical for Mr. Speaker to kill legislation that would make government more accountable to the public.

And, Bru, your sarcasm and antagonism is evident. We may not agree on some things but your approach is always the same. Hackney may be better than Black. That would be easy. That doesn't mean he's always standing tall for the people of NC. He should be.

Stan Bozarth

Dear, dear Stan.

Stop with the petulance already. Boring~

On the basis of this issue, and that editorial from the Wilmington Star, you assert that Hackney should be replaced.

Do you think the Wilmington Star was calling for Mr. Speaker to be replaced on that basis?

Have you read any of Hackney's comments about this issue, or considered, in light of Hackney's stellar record and reputation for ethics (spotless, by the way), whether there might be something missing from the big picture that could possibly affect your "reasoning?"



More important than who I think ought to be replaced is the idea that the party could and should actually do something to let elected Democratic officials know they will lose party support if their behavior is clearly unethical and/or their votes/actions clearly don't support the best interests of the majority of people they represent.

If you think Hackney is wonderful, that's your privilege. Maybe you're right and I'm wrong. With your attitude, we'll never discuss it.

I'm anything but petulant...but you're predictably contentious and insulting. Get a grip Bru...is your ego so big you're willing to make an ass of yourself over and over again to feed it?

Stan Bozarth

I'm just a harmless, grey haired (mostly) little old lady

I think most people who observe politics in North Carolina are favorably impressed by Hackney. Your suggestion that he be replaced is silly from multiple perspectives.

But this reminds me of the gal who told me the other night how concerned she is for women's rights but that she is not going to vote for Obama because of FISA. "Great concept!" I told her. You'll sure show him!

You go ahead and advocate that Hackney be replaced. Really. Great idea.

Why I don't believe the press

You have posted an editorial in the Wilmington paper that was based on this story in the News & Observer.

As is typical with the writer of the N&O story, he attributes a position to an elected official, in this case Speaker Hackney, without any statement from that person:

House Speaker Joe Hackney said Wednesday that he does not support legislation that would make "reasonable" legal fees automatically payable to those who win public records suits against state and local governments.

But there is absolutely no support in the article for that statement. Hackney is not quoted. The Committee Chair says the Speaker didn't think there was time to give the bill a full hearing. Nothing says he opposes the bill. But because the writer wrote that he did, every other newspaper assumes it to be true, whether it is or not. Just as the Wilmington paper did.

Then the Wilmington paper takes the next step in Orwellian journalistic privilige, it attributes, without attribution, a reason for the Speaker's supposed opposition. Now readers are left with the idea the Speaker opposed a bill he might not oppose, because he did not like the attorney fees provision, for which there is no evidence whatsoever.

I assume all the cuts at the N&O have led to the elimination of editors who read the work of their reporters with a critical eye towards fact checking. And that cuts elsewhere cause other editorialists to assume the truth of other papers' articles without independent verification.

Jayson Blair indeed.

Newspaper as rumor monger

I assume all the cuts at the N&O have led to the elimination of editors who read the work of their reporters with a critical eye towards fact checking. And that cuts elsewhere cause other editorialists to assume the truth of other papers' articles without independent verification.

I think this is kind on your part, but I'm afraid the answer is more discouraging -- which is that standards for journalism are slip-slidin' and were doing so prior to the cuts at the paper.

It does surprise me, though, that this kind of shot at Hackney would come from a reporter who has ample reason to know that Mr. "Ice-Man" isn't a liar and is beholden to no one -- including special interests in his district.

The Wilmington paper doesn't surprise me a bit.

Joe Hackney?

I've got to hear this one, Stan. Make it good.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors

replacing Hackney?

I would be interested why Stan thinks that Joe needs to be replaced. I don't think the House could have picked a better replacement for Jim Black.

Wake Forest won't play us anymore
Michigan last year
LSU - you are next

Thank you for inquiring rather than jumping to attack

as so often seems the case with some. My response above is but one example of why I think he should be replaced.

Stan Bozarth

Fighting for more state house/senate seats.

----insert witty remark here----coming soon----

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

We could start by grading candidates

on how closely they adhere to the Party platform. I know I've harped on this (many times) before, and I know I've been preaching pragmatism here lately, but...okay, here's my problem:

The NCDP Platform is not only progressive, but it's got a lot of common sense (sellability) to it. A Democratic candidate whose views are mostly in conflict with this platform should not be receiving equal assistance (or any) from the party compared to a candidate whose views are mostly in line with the platform.

I know that sounds like some sort of "lock-step" controlling measure, but we got some pretty f**ked up Democrats out there. The fact that the Defense of Marriage Amendment needs to be blocked from a vote in a Democratic-controlled GA speaks volumes.

I say, give them (candidates) a damned test on issues, and if they can't score 70% or higher, we take away their "I'm a Democrat!" badge and make them walk to Raleigh.

Steve not happy. :(

Not gonna happen

At least the way thing are going on now. The problem is the DSCC, DCCC and DLCC and not chosen by the legislative bodies not the DNC or NCDP. The people responsible for getting folks to and win in the State Senate are answerable to Marc Basnight not Jerry Meek. Many of them have not read and could care less what the Democratic party platform says. Instead they want to know if you can raise the money and get enough votes to win under the brand name "Democrat". If the answer if yes then you are the one they will back, if your answer is I am not sure, but I really support the platform better than others, your response will be "good job, but that is not exactly what we are looking for."

When I was began being active in the party some 25 years ago, most of the movers and shakers of the Democratic party of the day, thought Jesse Helms only political crime was switching parties in 1970. Had he stayed a Democrat they would not haved cared what he was voting on and what he was saying. While today things are not quite at that level, you still see the fact that winnig is still the most important thing, and right now those who ignore the platform have a good track record at that.

I know that, Linda

I'm talking about withholding support from "general" Democratic fundraising sources and/or not being able to use Party resources to further their campaigns.

Party platform aside, there are certain things that people expect when they contribute to the Democratic Party, and helping someone who is for all practical purposes a Republican is not one of them.

Keeping it real ...

So far, from what is here and what has been sent to me privately, I have gotten the following that could work, if taken seriously and actually worked:

1. Database advisory group – good idea – I was on such a group around 1990 and it led, to some extent, to having a full time computer guy on NCDP Staff. Probably time to see how the thing is working after the 2008 cycle is over.

2. Grading candidates’ performance – not as far-fetched as some folks might argue. Why not? Would give some feedback to candidates – they could run for, through or against that “grade” as they saw fit (might be some interesting reactions among our “Blue Dogs”). As a party, of course, we are prohibited from advocating for one candidate or another in the Democratic Primary (we have stretched that for non-partisan races e.g. Judicial and City Council with mixed results). Might be good to rate the GOP office holders at the same time – just for grins.

3. Term limits – I fought letting Barbara Allen run for a third term and lost because of her promise that she would not run even if she was allowed to – which she promptly reneged on – giving rise to JM’s first run at Chair. Limiting terms tends to give more power to the Staff who survives the turnover in officers. Allowing people to run forever causes stagnation. Best thing to do, given that dilemma, is make folks campaign for their seats – it certainly got me going to have active candidates for the DNC slots!

Having said that, I think y’all can do better on your suggestions. What ideas do you have for the County and Precinct organizations, utilizing the Auxiliary and associated groups (such as Progressive Dems), shifting the Sustaining Fund, Dialing for Democrats, Precinct Organization, connection with the Governor’s office for event notification, integration with Council of State, the role of the Legislative Campaign Committees. Let’s see some creativity here!

As a Post-Script: for those who attend such things, I will be following Kay Hagan at the State Senior Dems this coming Saturday – I intend to speak about the future of the party to some extent, although mostly I will just be jabbing at the GOP – should be fun. Will bring my guitar and sing during the speech – sounds incredibly hokey (and probably is), but keeps the crowd awake.

David Parker

David Parker

I like number 2 as well

I'd be a lot more interested in being a Democrat if there was some relationship between office holders and the party platform.

Regarding term limits, if I were going to start a new political party, the certainty of limited terms would be a non-negotiable centerpiece.

Here's the thing about term limits. They are a nice idea IF

you have a county with a lot of energetic dems, but in rural counties that tends to be rare. If term limits were imposed, I bet half the rural counties in the state would, in the long term, have no viable leadership worth mentioning.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

I forgot to add

And pay every legislator $150,000 a year.

Seriously, I'm not saying term limits should be imposed. I'm saying that a political party that adopts term limits as a committed policy would kick ass over the long haul.

Just my opinion.

Let's Hope Not

After all, term limits was a part of the Contract With America

It was winning strategy

as part of the Contract On America. Sadly, the Republican liars (like Sue Myrick, for example) didn't keep their word.

So are we talking about elected officials or party officers?

Mr. Parker's #3 above refers to Barbara Allen so I thought this was about term limiting party officers, county chairs etc.

I don't like term limits for elected offices either. Elections need to be fairer, shorter, with far less emphasis on $$$ (publically funded?). Why should an effective legislator have to step down and his constitutents lose a good representative due to an arbitrary limitation?

Term limits are a band aid. Fix the system, fix the real problems.

Person County Democrats

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

I agree.

I'd like to see county organizations able to pool their resources - two small counties work together. Chairmanship would rotate between county A nd County B each election cycle (or each year), and if the chair is from County A, first vice chair should be from County B, etc.

Yes, it spreads out the geographic area to be covered, but it doubles the hands to work it, and speaking as a voice with a pair of overwhelmed hands, I like the idea.

Can we, instead, start talking about "for the good of North Carolina?" --Leslie H.
Pointing at Naked Emperors