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Let the mass firings commence

by: Eric B.

Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 18:37:26 PM EST

In an ideal year, the rift that an incompetent UAW leadership has created with the rest of the labor coalition would be a welcome opportunity to both reappraise the direction and model for the Michigan Democratic Party and find new leadership for that party. I've been saying as such for at least four years now, that it needs updating and that it probably starts with bouncing out of power Mark Brewer. Why? Because an organization reflects the guy in charge, and real reform of the MDP won't start as long as the guy steering it is the same guy who's been steering it the last two decades. That's just the way things work.

Now, however, it's the UAW versus the rest of organized labor, with Mark Brewer now bizarrely an insurgent candidate to keep his job, a job he ought to be expected to surrender after two successive cycles of electoral failure. Did I mention something about incompetent execution? The leadership of the UAW couldn't even hang the failure of Proposal 2 around Brewer's neck properly.

Ideally, I think, the work that Brewer does would be broken into two jobs, one for glad handing and fund raising as the chairman and face of the party, and someone who can manage day-to-day operations and start a program of party building. Would he go in for decentralizing power he's held for a long time? History says no.

Part of what makes the Michigan Democratic Party an ongoing train wreck is the continued reliance on the numbers of organized labor and not a message and party catering to the needs of today's workforce. I point to my own Isabella County, which is blue enough that in 2008 it was one of a handful of counties to go for the disgraced Diane Hathaway (again, who vetted this woman, and let's hope that question is now an internal question). Yet, it continually fails to field a competitive race in the 99th District, making it safe by subtraction for Kevin Cotter, a lightweight who owes his job to the fact that the presumed nominee is hated by everyone.

Someone needs to do the work of working with local activists to build local parties and help them identify, recruit, vet, and train candidates for office. This, by the way, is what the Democratic Party is about to start doing in Texas, so don't start telling me that it somehow can't be done, because it's what successful Democrats are doing in an even more red state.

That means better organizing. It means reworking get out the vote. It means someone dedicated to see through the job, while someone else raises money from monied Michiganders. That is, if Bob King is going to threaten to defund the MDP, then let him take away the money and replace it with some that's not going to come with the strings attached that we behave as if it's 1976 all over again.

I've said it before, I'll say it again ... Right to Work isn't the death knell of the Democratic Party, at least it doesn't have to be. It can be an opportunity to get rid of a lot of dead weight (people) that's built up over the years and that is responsible of half-assed, poorly informed decisions that have left this state entirely in the hands of Republicans. It's time for the Democratic Party to decouple itself from organized labor and find its own feet. There are states out there that are both Right to Work and have active, vibrant Democratic parties. What are those people doing that Michigan is not? And, of course, what can we learn from Organizing for America, which executed a game plan two months ago with such flawless precision and competence that it had the Romney folks saying that they were pulling out voters they weren't even aware existed. There are working models out there, and those can be copied.

Finally, if Brewer goes, why does Bob King get to pick his successor? His tenure has been one disastrous train wreck after another. People like that aren't left in charge of organizations that are interested in success. People like that are marginalized, and their lackeys are given the heave-ho. Anyone Bob King wants as party chairman should be the last people allowed to be party chairman. In Japan seven decades ago, someone who has failed as badly as Bob King has the last two months would be expected to literally fall on his sword, not rewarded by being allowed to play kingmaker.

Eric B. :: Let the mass firings commence
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Labor is the heart and soul of the Democratic Party.
At the same time.....

A few leaders, of a few large-but-shrinking unions, have become accustomed to calling the shots in this party by themselves, expecting the rest of us to passively go along.

This is a paradox.  We have become the victim of our own past successes.  We must again become the party of the 99% of the people who have to work for a living.  Working people, union or non-union, students whose chance to get an education is now imperiled, and retirees who have worked all their lives and now find their retirement vanishing.  All these have been squeezed by the power of organized money.  And we know that "government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." (FDR, Madison Square Garden, 10/31/36)

We will "find our own feet" not by decoupling from labor, but by embracing the 99%, and granting a place at the table to a much broader range of folks.  The favored few who have been calling the shots will retain an important place at our table, but they can no longer presume that they are entitled to be at the head of the table just because they (and their predecessors for many years back) have been there since the last great Party revolution in 1948.  King is no Reuther, Granholm was no Mennen Williams, Brewer is no Staebler.  Look it up.

Not Optimistic
Not optimistic that this required sea-change will occur in the lifetime of anybody who reads Michigan Liberal.

I agree
I agree with almost everything written above, although I don't like referring to people as "dead weight" built up over the years. I think the comment below is more accurate. There need not be a split between the MDP and unions, but there must be some parity between unions and other Democratic constituencies. We have to remember that the Democratic Party stands for all people, particularly the non-rich workers who make up the unions. Just because King is a dolt, doesn't mean those people don't need strong Dems standing up for them in a government usually tilted toward the wealthy and privileged.

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