Saturday, April 09, 2011

Today's SDEC meeting in Austin *update: Richie won't run again

Breaking, 1:00 p.m.: Boyd Richie has announced that he will not run for re-election to the post of chair of the Texas Democratic Party in 2012. Burnt Orange Report is live-blogging the conclave.


Occurring as this is posted. The following was submitted by my Senate District Executive Committee representative, J.R. Behrman.


The April 9 meeting will pit the SDEC against the staff employed by the Texas Trust from the staff of Congressman Martin Frost -- the “Little Office” in Austin. That staff is desperately seeking to defeat motions to be made by Don Bankston of  Fort Bend County to support a bizarre theory of “singular authority” vested in the Texas Democratic Party chairman, and to re-elect Boyd Richie for State Chair despite his manifest unfitness and failure.

He had not planned to run in 2012. But, he and his entourage of “Senate Pages” have nobody but each other to turn to. We really cannot afford either half of that vain and unproductive symbiosis.

The staff and the “Palace Guard” -- together comprising the “Speaker’s Claque” -- are already “whipping” the SDEC, defaming Don Bankston, and threatening personal retaliation against each and every one of you. That is the way they operate. Since I am already on the hit list, I don’t care about the smear campaign so much as by what it reveals about a profoundly dysfunctional and failed state party.

The Obama campaign will bypass state parties altogether. They will use the new DNC chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, passed over for the DCCC, to raise money in Texas and spend it elsewhere. We desperately need a new business model at the state and county level, but there is not a hint of such a thing from the Little Office in Austin.

In any case the state party establishment, which bet on John Edwards this time four years ago and Martin Frost to become DNC chair in recent weeks as well as de facto state chair through his protege, Matt Angle, will fare even worse in fratricidal fund-raising from “large donors” in the future.

That leaves the state and county party fighting over the last rich, bored trial-lawyer standing – a horrible business model, but the only one we have today.

Our party does not have personnel problems unless we create them, which we now have by not disclosing material conflicts of interest. Still, that just aggravates the profound financial problems that will not be solved by “keeping on, keeping on” with old or new staff.

Given the size of this state, our lack and ignorance of the scalable technologies that the Obama campaign will use nationwide, and the profound dysfunction of the state and several urban county parties, it is hard to blame the boys in Chicago. They have little regard for cornpone Southern Democratic parties run by “doctors, lawyers, and preachers” for their own benefit, what I call “The Grisham Novel”.

Democrats in Northern states, with real unions and well-funded public schools and services, are fighting against a neo-Confederate GOP. They do not have much use for a state party that nurtures “Blue Dog” collaborators and defectors. So ... we are on our own here.

The Democratic Party establishment in Texas and Harris County are artifacts of a bi-partisan concession-tending regime that lasted statewide from 1824 to 1994 and persists on City Council to this day. This establishment lacks proficiency and purpose – now that tort reform is a done deal and they have no alternative to debt-driven fiscal austerity at every echelon of government.

So the prospects for winning statewide, countywide, and even citywide elections in 2011-12 are not good. There have been essentially no lessons learned from victories in 2008 or losses in 2010. “Wave Election!” is an excuse, not an analysis or a plan. The same consultants will be doing the same thing with the same tools but without the benefit of an Obama primary campaign here in Texas next year.

Apart from dismay at the effects of national, state, county, and city austerity, there will be little motivation and no money trickling down from national politics unless and until we turn things around here on the ground ... dramatically. The patronage-oriented base vote will be no  better than 2010 and the (2008-vintage) “new base vote” will be hard to motivate, locate, or mobilize. It is true that on the margin there is still some 'bloc voting' by various interest groups. But that is not the way the politics of age, ethnicity, class, and gender work in “majority-minority” counties like Harris, for one. So we are going to have to adopt Obama-type political methods and messages if we expect results like 2008.

And if we should overcome our perverse heritage and technical deficiencies, as well as the dead hand of the TDP, DNC, and DCCC, we could join California -- even Illinois -- in re-electing Barack Obama, in re-electing those elected county-wide in 2008, and in electing future national and statewide office-holders.

Which brings me back to today.

The State Chair and the party staff will try to waste time and suppress debate on virtually everything using parliamentary tactics or just jargon and making utterly bogus legal-sounding arguments. My district includes parts of Fort Bend County, and you can bet I will support Don Bankston, less for what he has done -- avoiding Bexar County-type problems, for one -- than for what he and others in the county are doing.

The Speaker’s Claque and our Local Chapter of the DCCC use the term “conversation” to indicate that they will engage grass-roots Democrats as adversaries, not as the source of their own legitimacy and Blazing Saddles jobs. A one-sided “conversation” is what President Obama has with the truculent and juvenile GOP in Congress. It is not the way to handle internal party communications.

I hope SDEC members meeting in plenary session today can be relied upon to discharge their responsibilities to those who put them on the executive committee as their representatives, not as sycophants or suck-ups. We need wholesome and fair deliberation of a slew of important questions.

There are certainly two sides to the questions raised by Don Bankston. But there should be only one side to the question of their right and responsibility to fairly deliberate any important matter. SDEC members should vote to include serious matters -- not just long-winded harangues and busy-work reports-- in the order of business. I hope my colleagues will join me in voting, in particular, against attempts to suppress debate with parliamentary jargon.

But if the Chairman insists on turning a motion to appeal the ruling of the chair into a vote of no confidence backed by his threat to resign ... well, I can live with Lenora Sorola-Pohlman for the balance of this term.

It is hard to imagine a course of action less delusional and impractical than what the Little Office in Austin is doing today. They will whine about the “circular firing-squad”. But then they will volley-fire into the backsides of an SDEC which breaks and runs at the least prospect of serious debate.

Texas Democratic voters are looking for responsibility and leadership, not cowardice or sycophancy.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

J.R. Behrman said,"So we are going to have to adopt Obama-type political methods and messages if we expect results like 2008."

Those political methods and empty words have worked out so well for everybody in America, now haven't they?

Why are members of the Democratic Party such cowards? Why do they care more for party than people? Why do they continue to believe the Democratic Party cares about the "little guy"? Are Democrats mentally retarded or just cowards?

How about sending a real message to the powers that be by refusing to vote? Voting is a waste of time and merely encourages the thugs who run the state and the nation.

Rise up against those who are oppressing you. Pull your head out of the sand and realize you are being duped again.