Should SCDP call for another People's Conference?
With the number of candidates for Mayor of Memphis growing everyday some in the Shelby County Democratic Party are saying there needs to be a convention where a consensus candidate is selected. The concern is that with so many Democratic candidates vying for the same seat they will split the votes to a point that a Republican could possible win. For others the issue is even deeper. With so many blacks announcing their intention to run some feel this could be a repeat of the 2006 Steve Cohen race where Cohen, a white, ran against fourteen mostly black opponents in the primary and eventually won.
The 1991 People's Conference, which was spearheaded by citizens and political heavy hitters like Shep Wilbun, and Harold Ford, Sr. elected the first African-American mayor of Memphis. That day is imprinted in my mind forever. I remember being at the Peabody celebrating Herenton's victory. I would not have that feeling again until I was back at the Peabody in 2008 to witness history being made when the first African American President was elected. I understand and appreciate that power of people coming together.
The issue today is does the Shelby County Democratic Party need to push for another effort to find that single candidate for mayor? My short answer is no. My long explanation is as follows...
The 1991 People's Conference was just that, a conference of people. The mission was justifiable - the city where Dr. King was assassinated had for 125 plus years never elected a black to one of its highest offices. It was truly time for change.
What we are experiencing now is simply Democracy in action. The right of the individual no matter how unlikely his or her chances are in winning to step forward and announce their candidacy. The SCDP has no business publicly getting involved in the prevention of this. Our mission is to promote the education and participation of citizens in the voting process, support democratic candidates against opposition parties, and insure citizens are able to exercise their God given right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...and the rockets' red glare! I know, I know, but I really believe in these things.
In the end the only "People's Conference" we need is the one that includes a voting booth.