Who should be DPVA chair?

DPVAlogoI have a rule that I use when assessing the stances of people on social issues: if you are older than me – especially if you are a lot older – I give you a pass on not being as open-minded as I am. I understand that you were raised in a different time – when women, blacks, gays, and other minorities were second-class citizens, not just from a societal perspective but also from a legal one. Anyone my age or younger gets no such pass – you should know better.

My family and I got on the topic of birth certificates the other day. The race on mine says “colored,” which I have always taken as people at least being polite, especially in the deep south where I was born. My nephew was born here in Virginia in 1972 – his says colored, too. One of my sisters never got a birth certificate – long story – but when she was about to retire, she needed something to prove her date of birth. So she got something a few years ago that verifies that she was born; she was crowing that hers said “black.”

When Hillary Clinton was seeking the nomination in 2008, I was surprised that many of my older female friends were against her candidacy; a woman, they told me, shouldn’t be president. Not everyone who lived through the heady days of the women’s revolution in the 1970s could shake what they had been raised to believe.

There are many reasons why gay people stay in the closet. We all have painful stories of being rejected by family and friends, so why subject ourselves to even worse by the public at large?

The older I get, though, the fewer of those “older than me” people exist, so I have fewer opportunities to offer a pass on their perspectives. That doesn’t stop me from trying to get them to change their minds, because I do, with varying degrees of success. But there are some cases that I just let go – my now deceased mother-in-law never learned to say anything other than “colored,” for example – because, truthfully, it’s just too painful for them.

Which brings me to Richmond mayor and minister, Dwight C. Jones. I first met him when he served in the House of Delegates and have had the opportunity to speak with him at various functions and events since. I wouldn’t call us friends or anything, but I’ve been around him enough to decide whether I like him or not. I like him.

But he’s the wrong choice for DPVA chair.

At 66, Jones was raised in a different time. He no doubt can regale you with tales of being a black man in America and all that entailed, coming of age as he did in the turbulent 1960s. But that was also a time when women knew their place and gays were in the closet.

That perspective is not appropriate for the face of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

To be perfectly honest, though, I don’t consider anyone older than me as the appropriate face of the DPVA.

I’ve said repeatedly that the DPVA needs to engage younger people and do away with its system of “wait your turn” that permeates the party and stymies its growth. It is why I have argued, long and hard, for term limits for members of State Central, Congressional District chairs, and local committee chairs. The old guard of the DPVA won’t yield to the younger unless they are forced.

I’ve said repeatedly that there needs to be a system to groom younger members for office – it’s called building a bench, folks.

The reason the party elders are looking to anoint a 66-year-old man the next DPVA chair is because of this.

The next party chair should be a younger person, one who can help to steer the ship into the headwinds of 2014 and beyond. Race or gender doesn’t matter to me; rather, the face of the party should be someone young enough to fully embrace the party’s platform and old enough to have the experience to execute it.

It’s called moving forward, folks.

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11 thoughts on “Who should be DPVA chair?

  1. For me — I prefer the wisdom that comes with age (so long as that prefrontal cortex hasn’t deteriorated too much). Anyone younger than I am does not have enough life experience to be in politics.

  2. I guess I’m not as tolerant as you, i feel no matter when you were brought up wrong is wrong and unless you lived in a cave you should have evolved by now. I grew up in a time that smoking was exceptable and drinking and driving was tolerated, doesn’t it was right. This Gentleman that is the Governors choice as Chair of DPVA is wrong because he would exclude people from exercising their rights just because of who they love. He uses his faith/ religion as a shield to mask his bigotry. Democrats of Virginia can do a Hell of a lot better this this!

    1. “[No] matter when you were brought up wrong is wrong and unless you lived in a cave you should have evolved by now.”

      That’s rather self-contradictory, isn’t it? If wrong is wrong no matter when you were brought up, then homosexual acts are as wrong now as they were 50, 500, and 5000 years ago.

      1. wrong is wrong and hating someone because they are different from you is wrong now as it was 50, 500, 5000 years ago. And using religion to justify hate is wrong.

        1. No-one is hating anyone. If a child says to a sibling, “Don’t do that — Dad said it was wrong and you’ll get in trouble if you do it,” is that hateful?

  3. I’m not endorsing Dwight Jones here (far from it), but he is three months younger than Hillary Clinton. Does that make her too old to be the “appropriate face” of the national Democratic Party? And what about Joe Biden?

    1. On the surface, absolutely. But I think there is a difference between an anointed position and an elected one. The insular nature of state parties and their national counterparts (DNC, RNC) means there is a bigger need for them to be more reflective of the public at large. The national parties seem to be somewhat aware of this, as they have, at least in recent years, chosen the public face to be someone youthful and inclusive.

      If the people elect Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, that’s a democratic choice. That person represents more than just the national party; in fact, they represent the nation, including the folks who didn’t vote for them.

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