September 16, 2010

Conversation with Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine

Soulclap to Gina McCauley (What About Our Daughters) for extending an invitation to this blog to participate in an on-the-record conversation with Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairmman Tim Kaine and his senior staff. There were a number of African American bloggers engaged in the discussion.

I went into the conversation with some skepticism. The DNC was very engaged with the afrosphere during the 2008 election. They worked with a number of Black bloggers to gain access to the convention at which President Obama secured the Democratic nomination allowing him to run for President of the United States.

However, since that glorious moment it has been mostly the sound of *crickets* from the DNC as it relates to working with the afrosphere. Today, the Democrats are facing an electoral tsunami by the Republicans due in no small measure to the lack of enthusiasm and support from Black voters.

Black voters appear to have been disrespected by the Republican Party and taken for granted by the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, the economic recession for America has been a DEPRESSION for Black America, especially the Black middle class. The predatory loans that brought down the national economy had a devastating impact on the Black middle class. Unemployment for the nation stands at a little under 10% ... but it is over 16% for African Americans ... and much worse for young Black males.

Nobody in Washington DC, including Tim Kaine and the DNC, ever speaks to the specific issue of Black unemployment and the other nightmares that impact on our community.

I was skeptical ... but willing to have an open mind as the conversation with Gov. Kaine began this morning. I found him to be very knowledgable and willing to answer questions. The discussions covered a variety of areas including:
  • evolution of the Organizing For America (OFA) within the DNC?
  • how can the DNC reach out in a stronger way via new media outlets such as Black bloggers?
  • is there a turf battle between OFA and existing grassroots organizations at state or local level?
  • Presidential successes and heavy lifting in terms of policy and legislation
  • Republican Party strategy to take the nation "dramatically backwards"
  • there were 15 million new voters who voted for Obama in 2008 (5 million of them were African American) ... were these voters supporters of Democrats (in general) or simply loyalists to President Obama?
  • what are Democrats doing to combat growing levels of poverty in Black community?
  • what is DNC strategy in support of micro-businesses (less than 5 employees, less than $250k in annual revenue)?
  • what is DNC strategy related to older, more conservative, Black voters who may be concerned about Democratic positions on issues of choice or marriage?
  • what is DNC strategy to develop a stronger pipeline of credible Black candidates for state or local elections?
  • what is DNC strategy to work closer with Black bloggers (afrosphere)?why don't Democratic candidates tout the past successes (e.g., saving the auto industry)?
  • what specific steps are being taken by Democrats to deal with 16% unemployment rate in the Black community?
  • why don't Democrats have party discipline (e.g., Blue Dogs)?
I'm not a reporter so it is going to take me a minute to share some of these insights in blog posts -- but, I will try to do so. Which of the questions or issues listed above hit home for you?

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