That’s why the Democratic Party is so critical. Ultimately, the energy of the Moral Monday protests must be directed into an organized and well-led and disciplined political war machine that is focused on winning campaigns. Ultimately, it must be led by seasoned political warfare generals to be successful.
Top 10 Keys for NC Democratic Political Recovery
Rule #3 Moral Mondays - A Therapeutic Dose of Political Energy Restoring Rhythm to the Heart of the Democratic Party
June 26, 2013 Vol. VI, No. 13 9:13 pm
On Monday, a crowd of political activists estimated by police to be 2,500 – 3,000 strong stood outside the General Assembly in Raleigh in opposition to the conservative initiatives of the new Republican leadership in the state capital. This was the eighth consecutive “Moral Monday” protest rally since April 29 of this year. These rallies are giving Democrats a therapeutic dose of political energy.
Up until the start of these Moral Monday protest rallies, there were few signs of political life among North Carolina Democrats. They were struggling to recover from the devastating defeats during the elections of 2010 and 2012; the loss of power and influence over state government.
Their struggle is an emotional one. A struggle akin to the early stages of recovery from grief associated with any great loss: shock and denial; pain and guilt; anger, depression, reflection.
The final stages of dealing with grief are about recovery: acceptance and hope; the upward turn; reconstruction. Moral Mondays have been like a defibrillator for the hearts of Democrats, a life-saving jolt sparking a renewed sense of worth. An upward turn. Hope for political recovery.
However, in fomenting a successful political rebellion you have to do more than stand against the opposition. Your credibility comes from offering a more compelling slate of policy solutions to the problems facing the state, including revised solutions to your own failed policies. Your strength comes from turning passionate protesters into a disciplined political war machine focused on elections.
This is the third of a 10-part series on the keys to political recovery for North Carolina Democrats. As with the previous series on Republican political longevity, no state legislator or legislative staff member was interviewed. All interviews were conducted with the promise of anonymity. The rules thus far are:
- Rule #1: If You want to Lead a Purple, Business-Friendly State, You have to Recruit a Purple, Business-Friendly Slate.
- Rule #2: It's All About Who Does the Asking; Get the right person to ask the right person to do the right task.
Today I am adding Rule #3 Moral Mondays - A Therapeutic Dose of Political Energy Restoring Rhythm to the Heart of the Democratic Party.
Dismiss Moral Mondays at Your Peril
Moral Mondays remind me of the early stages of the Tea Party rebellion five years ago.
During the 2009-2010 mid-term election cycle, crowds of angry, in-your-face, finger-pointing voters confronted Members of Congress at Town Hall meetings across America in protest of government spending run amok. Many conservatives were arrested.
Those Town Hall rants against Members of Congress were followed by protest rallies, called Tea Party rallies, which began with small crowds but grew over the months to hundreds and then thousands.
Democrats laughed at them. Dismissed them. After all, the protesters were wearing those silly tri-cornered hats and spouting Revolutionary War era slogans and carrying homemade signs with statements like “Socialism is Trickle-Up Poverty” and “Hands Off My Healthcare.”
In April of 2010, when virtually no one saw the unorganized Tea Partiers as a political threat, a reader asked me what I thought about their potential. Here is a portion of my reply:
“I have read a lot of Tea Party material these past couple of weeks and am convinced that these folks will be a constant source of fuel for the fires of public discontent this year. Most voters grumble at home and the office or at the club but are reluctant to say anything that may offend anyone in public. Tea Partiers are the angry and fearless voices saying publicly what everyone else wants to say … voices that empower others to become active. It’s only April , and the state and federal budget concerns are not going away this year.”
That dismissive attitude of Democrats in Washington, D.C. and Raleigh towards Tea Party protesters in 2010 was their downfall. They simply didn’t take them seriously.
Moral Mondays are the first signs of political life for North Carolina Democrats. The protests began with small crowds and a few dozen arrests but have grown to crowds of thousands and over 600 arrests.
Republicans laugh at them. Dismiss them. Short-sighted lawmakers like state Sen. Thom Goolsby, a New Hanover County Republican, referred to Moral Monday as “Moron Monday” in an Op-Ed column in the Chatham Journal. He called the protesters “clowns” and “old Hippies.”
Thanks to dismissive Republican lawmakers like Goolsby, Moral Monday’s are gaining strength and have the potential of growing into a successful political rebellion.
Protest Energy Must be Organized into Political Energy
Protest rallies are all well and good, but to govern you must win campaigns. In order to win campaigns, protest energy must be redirected to organized political energy directed by seasoned professionals.
A unique characteristic of the Tea Party movement here in North Carolina and elsewhere is that they have never wanted to be centrally organized or led by a top-down hierarchy. So how is it that they were so successful politically? Because the North Carolina Republican Party provided the organization.
In 2009, Tom Fetzer, former Republican Mayor of Raleigh and a seasoned campaign professional, won the race for the Chairmanship of the state GOP. Fetzer, along with State Senator Phil Berger, the Senate Republican Minority Leader, and Representatives Skip Stam, the House Republican Minority Leader and Thom Tillis, the House Republican Whip, channeled the anti-establishment energy of conservatives all over the state into a disciplined political war machine.
Those four political war generals hired the best political consultants they could hire, recruited the best candidates they could recruit, and provided the coordination for the strategic investment of all political resources into targeted opportunities for winning campaigns.
The Republican Party defeated Democrats in 2010 because of intellectual capital of their leaders along with the disciplined organization of rank and file Republicans and antiestablishment Tea Partiers.
Here is one more paragraph from that April, 2010 reply to the reader who asked me what I thought about the potential of the Tea Party:
“It’s not that any of this [Tea Party movement] is organized into a polished grassroots machine … clearly it’s not. But, by connecting all of the dots … including the likely future events … I am persuaded that there is a movement of voters big enough and angry enough to keep the fire spreading all year until someone comes along and captures that discontent and organizes it into a political victory … or two or three.”
That “someone” who came along and captured the discontent and provided the organization for many political victories was the North Carolina Republican Party, led by seasoned political warfare generals. They did it again in 2012 under the party stewardship of former Congressman Robin Hayes.
That's why the Democratic Party is so critical. Ultimately, the energy of the Moral Monday protests must be directed into an organized and well-led and disciplined political war machine that is focused on winning campaigns. Ultimately, it must be led by seasoned political warfare generals to be successful.
Meanwhile, dismiss Moral Mondays at your own peril.
Rule #3: Moral Mondays - A Therapeutic Dose of Political Energy Restoring Rhythm to the Heart of the Democratic Party.
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