In Andrew Jackson's Name

Andrew Jackson 1844 Photo Credit - Wikimedia Commons

Andrew Jackson 1844 Photo Credit – Wikimedia Commons

It is fitting the Iowa Democratic Party plunge into navel gazing in the wake of the June 17 shootings at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. by renaming, or considering whether to rename, its annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

Knowing more than a little about both presidents, I never understood why it was named the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in the first place. I couldn’t afford to attend unless someone else was paying my ticket. Democrats are a party of the elites and moneyed interests these days, not of the common man. By a distance.

“I’ve had it with white males,” said a friend last night.

Let’s dump Jackson, and Jefferson, Jackson particularly, another said.

I would have suggested the name of a prominent female office holder, but no Democratic female governors or congresswomen have yet been elected in Iowa, and the prospect for closing the era of Iowa white males in 2016 is slim unless Hillary Clinton or Monica Vernon is elected.

The idea that Jacksonian Democracy is relevant in 21st Century America is absurd. “Jacksonian democracy promoted the strength of the presidency and executive branch at the expense of Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public’s participation in government,” according to Wikipedia. Just look at the reins Congress placed on President Obama, blocking much of his agenda, even when he had a majority of the House and 60 members in the Democratic caucus in the Senate.

The only political party I see encouraging new people to participate in politics is the Republican Party, with their extravagant affairs like Ben Carson’s in Des Moines last weekend, and Donald Trump’s a couple weeks back. We can say they border the wacky side as much as we want, but the truth is they are expanding their base. Witness Senator Joni Ernst, the first product of their base expansion. Unless Democrats get to work, there will be more.

It doesn’t matter who a political event is named after. A better option would be to annually sell the naming rights to the highest bidder. These big political wing dings are more about raising money in politics than inclusion, just be what you be Democrats.

A little harsh, maybe, but if Andrew Jackson were still alive, the 247-year old ex-president, former slave holder, and veteran of the Battle of New Orleans and the Seminole wars would likely be enraged by what’s going on. That’s who he was, but outrage has gone out of style unless one expresses it in social media.

I’m still registered as a Democrat and expect to continue to be. However, as a party we need to get beyond navel gazing and work to have reasons for new voters to sign up.

The navel gazing announcement in its entirety:

On Aug. 8, Josh Levitt, press secretary, released the following:

DES MOINES — Today the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted in favor of a resolution to begin the process to change the name of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. The change will take place following the 2015 dinner. IDP Chair Dr. Andy McGuire issued the following statement on the resolution:

“Today the Iowa Democratic Party’s State Central Committee voted to begin the process to change the name of the annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner following the 2015 Dinner.

“The vote to change the name of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner comes after much debate and discussion among our activists and grassroots leaders around the state. This was not a decision that was made lightly. The vote today confirms that our party believes it is important to change the name of the dinner to align with the values of our modern day Democratic Party: inclusiveness, diversity and equality.

“Moving forward, we will continue the conversation with Iowa Democrats about what the new name should be. The process for changing the name will be as inclusive as possible. We will ensure that all Iowa Democrats have the opportunity to have their voices heard, and offer suggestions for a new name.

“Iowa Democrats are proud that we are never afraid to move forward and modernize, and we continue to work hard everyday to elect Democrats all across Iowa.”

The SCC today also elected Kimberley Boggus as the party’s new Affirmative Action Chair.

“The Iowa Democratic Party is wholly committed to making our Party as inclusive and welcoming as possible. Today the State Central Committee took a major step in advancing these goals by electing Kimberley Boggus as our new Affirmative Action Chair. Kimberley is a strong leader who has proven to be a fierce advocate for Democratic values. With Kimberley at the helm, I am confident that the Iowa Democratic Party will continue to grow more diverse and inclusive as we bring our Democratic message all across the state,” added McGuire.

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