Although there were racist voters in every state -- and although there were also voters in every state who voted for Barack Obama because of his race -- respondents in more rural, less educated states (like Arkansas or Tennessee) were more likely to say that they had voted for John McCain (that is, against Barack Obama) because of the race of the candidates.Tennessee Democrats ran away from Barack Obama as fast and hard as they could and they lost big. Both houses of the Tennessee legislature are now controlled by Republicans. They control the committees, they control the issues, they control the future. The state Democratic party, under new leadership, seems to be squabbling with the faction that lead the charge to defeat and wants to continue the old way of fat cat donors and party bosses. In a telling statement of reality the Democratic Party had to move it's Labor Day celebration away from Labor Day, a tacit admission that not only does the working person no longer exist as a political force, but that the party is in muddled disarray. The party of the grass roots has forgotten that it is the party of the grass roots.
Barack Obama is our President today because of Dr. Howard Dean and his 50 state strategy, which concentrated on building from the bottom instead of the top down sytem that caters to big money...That and the fact that Obama was the best candidate in the race by an exceptional margin. So much so that Obama won handily without resorting to the least bit of negative campaigning against the person of John McCain.
(Republican strategists must have shuttered awake during the campaign knowing what a Swift Boat style attack would have done to their candidate, particularly one based on truth instead of the fabrications used against Kerry.)
Tennessee Democrats missed their chance to build a modern state party during the Obama presidential run in what seems from the outsideto be a doomed attempt at keeping the good old boy fat cat power structure intact. It is as if they got together, looked at the election carnage in Tennessee, and said, "Well...That didn't work. Let's do the same thing all over again!"
Whie the state party was running away from Obama, something really amazing was happening. Obama raised more money in Tennessee than did John McCain. It was mostly in small donations and generated by the internet. In a demonstration of their relevance, Progressive Tennesse bloggers mounted an improptu campain lasting a mere three days which signed up over 100 donors and raised over $4000.
I keep waiting for that lightbulb to turn on inside the collective heads of the old guard. The Democratic Party cannot continue to exist as Republican Lite, trying to win elections with the slogan of "We suck less than those other guys!" Obama won by using Howard Dean's tools and empowering the grass roots. Most importantly, he listened to them.
So far the state party is clinging to the party boss stereotype, reclaiming control from an attempt to begin a movement that returns power to the local party. The strength of the Democratic Party is in numbers. It is time to use our strength to move Tennessee toward an economically viable state, with a healthy environment, and an excellent public school system.
It's time for us to make the Tennessee racist redneck stereotype a thing of the past. The newneo-conservative Republican party isn't going to do that, and neither is the old Democratic Party.