There’s danger in seeing cause and effect where there’s none.
The First Black Woman label was the billing intended to excite members of the South Carolina Democratic Party about its new Chair. Endorsement from the indomitable Congressman James Clyburn all but assured we’d be marking time in the dimming halo of fanfare that usually follows his hype. Been through it before, especially with the Jaime Harrison pseudo-coronation.
So, forgive us if we’re not effervescing courteous excitement.
We’ve suffered through Party membership from the days of Joe Erwin, then Dick Harpootlian, when it was run with predictive orderliness within a framework that ‘everybody could work with’. That everybody, in our assessment, was never the 25% State wide Black Population from which 77% of its electorate commits its votes to the State Democratic Party.
The new chair’s announcement of the old 46 County Registration Project that is resuscitated every election cycle came with less excitement than curiosity. It was re-branded Project Road Map and promised a launch of the ‘critical initiative’ via zoom in a radical departure from previous norms which treated us, voters, to mere highlights of the high stakes discussions.
The inclusion was definitely a novelty which gave us an opportunity to sit in on what is put in to these meetings.
We met and saw Jay Parmley, literally, on the job here.
He’s been with the Party, per records, from 2008 to 2011 as Executive Director and was rehired by the previous chair in 2020 to do all sorts of things including defeating Lindsey Graham. We could stop here since Graham remains undefeated but it’s necessary to go on to show how the Party’s hiring and recycling efforts are questionably with the Party’s mission, let alone its voters, in mind.
We’ve long been asking what the role of Parmley’s Executive Director title is. It’s not one that is even minimally described on the Party’s website. But his revolving return to this specific post suggests that he brings some value to it…the classic cause and effect in reason.
We, the voters, only see net losses -maybe because of our untrained eye and minimal political sophistication. That’s why we’re curious. More so, his return in 2020 came with a road show he labeled the ‘Parmely Report’ which was a broadcast segment featuring residents of areas that seemed to exclude major voting blocks.
Its purpose remains unclear, as is its value to the Party but maybe we don’t understand.
Seeing him at work during the zoom meeting, though, unfuzzed the lines that were blurred, when we use his glowing resume to predict his effectiveness and output. His cue up to define the role of the Party which was delivered amidst a distracting volley of apologies, never quite got there.
We’re thinking that it’s a good thing we may have gone to school when Bullet Points were high tech and it was as taboo to editorialize a project’s Stated Purpose as it was to not understand the contours of a delivery and what exactly you wanted the audience to leave with.
His mention of Vote Builder brought us back to 2018 and the spat that arose out of then DNC Chair Tom Perez’s attempt to harness State Vote Builder Data into a for profit machine, that could have been leveraged for financial solicitation from entities like Unions. Some State Parties resisted, claiming it was a power grab to benefit select candidates.
Perez threatened to close accesses to Vote Builder or force States to pay for the proprietary service. The Former Chair, Travis Robertson, claimed the emailed threat prompted him to “spit out his sweet tea”…
an anecdote for the ages, from a Chair who had nothing to lose by opening his Red State to some winning possibilities…
considering how prolifically he lost during his tenure.
And, the fact that Vote Builder strayed into the Definition of the Party’s role testifies to how far from defining the role of the Party the presentation information was.
Maybe, it was informative to learn that Million 24,467,890 contacts to Democratic Voters were made since 2007. But we understand that sharing an aggregation of data gratuitously at an event and moment designated for definition and specifics could be mistaken for anything but what it was intended for.
That’s why the clarity part in Informative Communication warns against conflation.
And, if the other data points – 5million direct contacts, 3.1 million voters on file, 2.6 million phone numbers in the data bank – were cited as some show of effort over the 17 years they were aggregated, they were overshadowed by the constant apologies from Parmley for what was not done, what could have been done better and, in some instances, for doing anything at all.
We could have measured the sincerity of his apologies if the venue were different… like during his previous tenures when much of the current data existed and losses were as profuse as they’ve always been.
Not sure why he chose the launching of Project Road Map to cite all that was wrong with the data he used under the previous Chairs…but we do have a theory.
It was neither a good introduction for the new Chair and her program nor was it reassurance of his capabilities to execute the new version of what he was never demonstrably good at, previously.
We want a Party that is more than just a nominal existence. We want a Party whose expressed ideology is manifested in policy and execution of an agenda. We want a Party that is tooled to win, not just participate in elections and we’ll call all the impediments to that goal out, as often as we have to.
Because we are listed amongst the millions of names on the voter roles, contact attempts and phone numbers in the Party’s data bank, we reserve the right to voice our observations.
And, even more so, because we remain plugged in to the politics frequency, make it our duty to stay informed and vote consistently for this Party, we will take the initiative of pointing out where and how it is failing us.
The meeting concluded with the promise of several more parts to be added to the zoom production of Project Road Map…the re-branded drive to register voters in all 46 counties of the state.
We’re thinking that the people designated to evaluate the presentation would have shared, with the Chair, how far short of the mark it fell.
None of that should be a surprise. Mr. Parmley’s Executive bonafides have always been a fiction others tried to manifest in to reality…is our opinion. And we’re not just assessing his past record but how this presentation that was earmarked for voters and executives was so difficult for him to segment for this mixed audience.
We started this conversation with cause and effect – the cause being improved 46 county registration. But did it really catch the attention of and invigorate the ordinary voter whose phone calls and door knocks would assist the effect?
Most of the people we’ve side barred with think not.