The Democratic Party of Union County will “appoint” a new chairman at their April 16 convention. The current chairman, Harry Crow, has decided to step down after six years of service. He leaves a party that is decimated by political ineptitude and divided by racism, nepotism and plain old ignorance.
The foundation of the Democratic Party is cemented in the promise of the Declaration of Independence, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all men. It is the cornerstone of American values and beliefs. Later in the Constitution the 13th and 19th amendments echoed these truths to include all people clarifying that blacks and women were people, too, and deserving of equality. Why then is the Union County Democratic Party so passive and uninvolved in the plight of the average man? Why is it not trumpeting for the justice that is being eroded by the Republican Party? More importantly how can the Democrats in Union County focus on important issues when they aren’t practicing equality and justice in their own ranks? The current practices of the Union County Democratic Party are as close to Jim Crow-ism as Alabama in the 1960s! The leadership here is still living in the 1800s, and has systematically eliminated progressives from the decision-making process within the party.
The party has never had a chairperson who was a person of color! Even their Democratic Woman’s Club has only recently had one black woman as the chairlady. She served for only one term, not several like all the other past chairladies, and she served because no one else would. It is common knowledge among most Democratic folks here that blacks are not encouraged to run for high office in the party. If they do run they are discouraged, not supported, and if they are assertive, their reputation is unjustly smeared. A Democrat who is a white new comer, someone without a long history here in Union County doesn’t have a chance either. These “outsiders” are tolerated and used when needed to perpetuate the “power dynasty,” but never taken seriously. They are put in their place often and not sought out to lead.
A few months ago the field of qualified, strong, experienced Democrats vying to replace Mr. Crow was very diverse, and excitedly expectant. But suddenly and mysteriously they all “lost interest” in the position. Instead the only “Candidate” is Nancy Rorie, who believes that she is the heir apparent to the chairship. She does not even want to have an election at the convention. She instead is using her power of “entitlement” to be coronated by acclamation. The present bogus leadership agrees with her, deciding that what the party needs is the leadership of Nancy Rorie. They could not be more wrong! Nancy Rorie’s past leadership skills show she is not a uniter of people. She is condescending and deceitful. Nancy is neither intelligent, nor imaginative. She is a pure opportunist and her lineage shows membership in groups that would raise the attention of black folk and question her Democratic loyalty. Having her as chair will only further drive away the base of the party. It will deteriorate the party and render it even more ineffective, obsolete and irrelevant.
In 2008 when the Union County Republican Party elected its first black chairman, I was embarrassed, and my wife became an independent voter. I gave up the hope of a vibrant, inclusive Democratic Party. Instead I’ve watched for years three or four families play musical chairs in the Union County Democratic Party leadership, despite the lack of aptitude or the lack of desire to serve. They just keep recycling the same six or seven people. This has made the party very unattractive to most Union County Democrats, and has threatened the validity of the party. When I came back here to this party in 1996, I came here to help change things, but nothing ever changed. I came here to win elections, and none but two of note have been won despite the gross and flagrant incompetencies and ethical lapses of the Republicans who run this county like feudal lords, often attempting to use their power to turn this county into their own personal piggy banks. No ground has been gained by the Democratic Party, and if anything, ground continues to be lost despite it being ripe for us to change things. It’s hard to find any viable Democrats to run for anything and Republicans in this county continue to win unopposed elections. The job of the county Democratic Party is to embrace its community, strengthen itself from the ground up and locate great talent to challenge the status quo. It seems like the Democratic Party leadership here in Union County continues to be thoroughly pre-occupied with keeping people out.
T. J Helms