You could feel the electricity in the air. No matter where you looked you saw people huddling and speaking in whispers. People were wearing VOTE FOR TURNER or TEAM BAILEY stickers. Yea, there was politic'n going on.
(RAPIDLY READ THE FOLLOWING SECTION)
The newly elected executive committee members waited (and waited), then the moment arrived. As each member's name was called it was followed by their affirmation for Van Turner or Jay Bailey. At one moment Turner was in the lead then a string of Bailey, Bailey, Bailey came like a drum beat! A woman beside me would say, "Yes!," "Yes!" with every call of Bailey's name. You could hear a pin dropped on a pile of cotton. Several people had notepads and were nervously counting each vote - one hash mark here, one hash mark there. A gentleman in front of me wiped sweat from his forehead. Then came a rapid session of votes for Turner which caused a seemingly unintentional public sigh of relief from someone behind me. After eighty-two names were called the process stopped. People started to look at each other, heads started to nod. Some had smiles while others only empty stares. The counting was completed and the call was made; Van Turner was the new SCDP chair! There was an outbreak of applause and cheers!
This is why I love politics and I hope my old style play-by-play call helped those who were not there understand the excitement that I and others experienced.
In what I must say was an orderly process, though a bit long, the Party was able to elect a new executive committee, a new chair and adopt the by-laws.
Abraham Lincoln said, "No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent." Last Saturday the new executive committee of the Shelby County Democratic Party gave Van Turner their consent.
With the grace I have always seen in him, Jay stood and walked to the podium. He looked out at the audience and gave a conciliatory concession speech praising Van and calling for unity within the Party. The final count was 49 votes for Van Turner, 32 votes for Jay Bailey and 1 abstention. This was a 60 percent to 40 percent win for Van. A sizable victory but not a mandate. A large number of executive members saw someone appointed as chair that they did not support. It will be up to Van to reach out to these members and assure them that this is their Party as well.
I am hopeful that we as democrats can put our differences aside, come together and begin the process of addressing the challenges facing all of us.