A battle royal between Mark Kennedy, who was chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, and Joe Reed, who heads the mostly black Alabama Democratic Conference, has birthed a new organization — the Alabama Democratic Majority.
Created by Kennedy, who resigned his party chairmanship, the ADM is seeking to again make the Democratic Party relevant in the state.
One might argue that the Democratic Party has never, ever been relevant in Alabama. Certainly, candidates running as Democrats were once the candidates of choice, but the party itself was largely a collection of personalities, often competing, and it was difficult to tell if they were championing a cause other than themselves. Things that usually identified parties, like platforms and programs, were secondary. As a consequence, if anything was accomplished, it could seldom be credited to the Democratic Party
“You’ve got to be an optimist to be a Democrat. You’ve got to be a humorist to stay one.”
That’s Will Rogers again, but looking at the stumbling, bumbling way that what now passes for the Democratic Party has conducted itself in recent elections, it is easy to believe that Rogers, who was both an optimist and a humorist, had been watching Alabama.
Disorganized, divided into competing camps, Alabama Democrats were handed their heads in the last election. Clearly something needed to be done. Is the ADM the answer? Probably not. Instead, Reed and the ADC will be one Democratic Party, while Kennedy and the ADM will be another.
Meanwhile smart money will be betting that the Republican Party will get even stronger.
In January 1929, Rogers wrote Al Smith, the Democratic presidential nominee who had just lost one of the most lopsided elections in American history. Commenting on the disarray in which the defeated found themselves, the optimistic humorist told the crushed candidate that working hard together, Democrats “can make this thing into a party, instead of a memory.”
Unless Joe Reed and his supporters and Mark Kennedy and his supporters patch things up and work together, a memory might be all that is left of the Alabama Democratic Party.