Jackson Day: ‘The Re-birth of the Tennessee Democratic Party’ (and memories of the old)

In a Bicentennial Mall event that had a strong pro-union flavor, the Tennessee Democratic Party hosted around 700 people at its annual Jackson Day dinner, mixing shots at Republican candidates for president with cries for more pride in what Democrats believe in, reports The Tennessean.
Chairman Chip Forrester led the call for “A New Path Forward,” calling for an “all-inclusive values party” that better incorporates the Latino, black and female contingents of the party.
“The re-birth of the Tennessee Democratic Party … begins tonight,” he said.
Forrester took direct aim at presidential hopeful Mitt Romney for his “vision of government that rewards the top 1 percent,” and for wanting to turn Medicare into a voucher system.
Speakers throughout the evening highlighted Democrats’ commitment to education and labor. The event was largely attended and sponsored by labor factions, including local Teamster and AFL-CIO officials, but also the American Federation of Teachers and United Steelworkers.
Forrester, in recognition of those present in the audience, called labor the “backbone of the Democratic Party.” Actress Park Overall criticized Republicans for making “union” a dirty word.
“The Republicans are stealing your language and they are stealing your country word by word,” she said. Overall said her parents had an AFL-CIO ashtray in her house and shouted out, “Where is the Democratic Party of my parents? Are they here?” to unified cheers and applause.
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean provided the opening remarks, using the platform to stress Nashville’s current growth at a time of global economic hardship. He also emphasized the city’s potential in the hands of its youth. “We have a moral obligation that every child — and I mean every child — has a chance to succeed in life, whatever it takes,” he said.
Former state House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, who was honored with the Ned McWherter Legacy Award, believes an emphasis on education separates Democrats from Republicans. Naifeh said on stage that if one watches an education committee meeting, it is evident that “we are looking after the children.” Republicans, meanwhile, are “ruining public education,” he said.
State Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, who is running for Congress in November, praised the former speaker and the man the award is named after.
“Ned will be always be my governor,” Stewart said. “Jimmy will always be my speaker.”

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