On Dec. 16, 2009, I wrote the obituary of the Tennessee Democratic Party .
It wasn't until last night that we discovered that, despite official notice of its demise being published almost a year ago, no one had actually taken the time to bury the body.
Instead, it was dumped in an unattended corner of the State Capitol and is now stinking up the place. It seems unlicensed phrenologists, alchemists and numerologists tried to prop the tortured soul up for one last hurrah. Think "Weekend at Bernie's III," only worse.
To paraphrase Monty Python, the Democratic Party in Tennessee has passed on. This party is no more. It has ceased to be. Bereft of life, it rests in peace! The party has kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARTY!!
While some may have affection for the corpse, it has been abused. It is time – past time actually – to burn it and scatter its ashes upon the Tennessee River.
It is time for what is left of the Tennessee Democratic Party leadership structure to admit that they have failed miserably and walk away. They had two years' notice that they were going into an election that would determine who will draw the state's new legislative boundaries.
Take heed that all the blame for what happened last night should not fall on the current leadership's shoulders; the state Democratic Party has been in poor health for a number of years. But instead of responding to the call, things got worse ... much worse.
It will be fashionable for some Democrats to blame Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama and "ObamaCare" for the loss. Bullhockey. This party was in trouble long before the words "birth certificate" entered the political lexicon.
Nor is this a victory for the Tea Party in Tennessee, so don't blame them. Giving the Tea Party credit for wins in Tennessee would be like giving Charles De Gaulle credit for winning World War II. He was involved, but he wasn't reason the Allies won.
Over the past two years, Tennessee Democrats tried to embrace the concept of "modern campaigning" and follow the lead set by both Obama and former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean: Use the Internet to raise money and get their message out.
What they failed to realize that none of that works if no one is reading your Twitter account or if you are just preaching to the choir.
The backbone of the Tennessee Democratic Party has historically been its members in rural West and Middle Tennessee. Today, there isn't as much rural left in Middle Tennessee and the Western part of the state has seemingly been abandoned by those with more urbane plans, looking down their noses at anyone who wears Carhartt coveralls with their name on it.
Sure, Mike McWherter is from the West but he was less the problem and more the latest victim. He never stood a chance. When Al Gore lost Tennessee and the presidency in 2000, his daddy said to Gore's state team, "Boys, you couldn't fix in eight months what took years to mess up." The same is true today.
As for other rural Democrats, many of them were done in more by their own state Democratic Party more than they were by their Republican opponents. This includes folks such as Mark Maddox, Stratton Bone, Les Winningham, Dennis Ferguson, George Fraley, Butch Borchert, Judy Barker, Ty Cobb, Eddie Yokley, Henry Fincher and Kent Coleman.
All of these people hailed from mostly rural districts and were kicked out of office because too often they were told "Trust us" by Democrats in Washington and Nashville instead of being asked and then heeding their advice. More importantly, most of them brought voices of reason to the legislative process and were the face of the Democratic Party in places that know how to "skin a buck and run a trout line."
Nashville and Memphis are the final bastions of the Democratic Party in Tennessee. These two cities have been used to putting up big numbers for Democrats. Unless Democrats here and in Memphis start working with and listening to the more rural survivors of the party, their votes will end up in the same hole the body of the party should have been put in months ago.