( – promoted by lowkell)
by Paul Goldman
With all due respect, and like it or not frankly, all this talk about how the DPVA apparatus is the key to a Democratic comeback has no relation to the real world of elective politics. It might be true on a purely local level for some local offices. But as a general matter, the party apparatus just isn’t a player in terms of affecting real power although if Democrats return to a convention process, then the members of the DPVA Central Committee and such can play important roles in helping someone win a nomination.
Even in the days of Harry Byrd, when there was one party rule in Virginia, the DPVA itself was not the source for any expertise or policy guidance, although those in party leadership often graduated to elective office at a future date. To the extent the party apparatus had power, it was because it implemented what Senator Byrd decreed. Eventually, “liberals” took over the DPVA, throwing out the segregationists. Eventually, the Howell “liberals” had to relinquish power to Chuck Robb’s folks, who he used to recraft a more centrist party image in anticipation for running for Governor.
Fact: The DPVA is only as relevant in state politics as its top elected official – back then Harry Byrd, later Chuck Robb – wants it to be. That is the way politics works. DPVA’s power is thus derivative from a powerful political figure.
Politics is about the exercise of power – hopefully for the public good – and in that regard, the DPVA is merely a chess piece that those with the power – elected officials not party officials – use. When Jim Gilmore thought he had power as the head of the RNC, and refused to listen to Karl Rove, he was soon booted.
The power rested with George Bush because had been elected by the people.
You can fight a Governor or top Democrat if there is no Governor all you want. But in the end, if he or she won’t help, if you tick them off, then you are only digging a deeper hole although people don’t seem to get it. You can damage a Governor or his people for sure. But in the end, the party regulars only hurt themselves going forward. That is the way it works.
Fact: The DPVA has no real power, forget the charter and the Central Committee allegedly being the keeper of the Democratic flame. The real power comes not from the charter but from the blessing of the top Democrat in the state with real power.
For sure, you can turn the DPVA into a progressive policy group, champion this or that, recruit whatever, but if Senator Warner is opposed, you are going nowhere UNTIL you find someone who can win the Governorship or perhaps a US Senate seat. If that person agrees with you, then you have a seat at the table and some chips to ante.
Even a powerful Senate Majority Leader (the House Speakership is not attainable) doesn’t have the juice today.
This doesn’t mean stop trying to fix what is broken. But it does mean as follows: the 2013 ticket is the key to the DPVA being something more than a punching bag. You win the Governor’s Mansion, and suddenly the DPVA is back in business as a player, provided the Chair and the Governor are on the same wavelength and the Central Committee goes along.
Because the Governor has the power that matters in this business.
So: Those all worked up over the DPVA should (1) try to find someone who has a chance at being Governor to be the new head and sell that person to Warner; (2) work to elect a Democratic Governor in 2013 and makes sure he puts someone he trusts in the job, and back that person.
Both options will make everyone forget about what is going on now or in the last few years, like it never happened.
In terms of state politics, the DPVA thrives when it is an instrument of the Governorship, either because the head is someone who has the ability to play at that level, or because there is already a Democratic governor in the Mansion.
Otherwise: You can replace Brian with the anti-Brian, and while it might be more fun for a lot of people, the DPVA will not be a significant force in politics all other things being equal.