20 November 2005

Leon Democrat attacks Party's founder

Today, the Tallahassee Democrat reported that a leader of the Leon County Democratic Party is looking to impose her extreme views on other members of the party in the name of political correctness. Acting party chair, Monica O'Neill, who was never elected to the position by Leon County Democrats, is attempting to force her beliefs on the party by denouncing the memory of Andrew Jackson, the former president, first military governor of Florida, and founder of the modern Democratic Party.

While Thomas Jefferson is commonly referred to as the founder of the Democratic Party, as well as the nation, no American in history has contributed more to the values of the modern Democratic Party than former President Andrew Jackson. Jefferson's Democratic Party, which ironically was known as the "Republican Party," was founded in 1792 and was the opposition to the soon-to-be failed Federalist Party. The Democratic Party, however, truly found its stride when a faction of the party emerged in 1828 with the election of Andrew Jackson as the seventh President of the United States.

Jackson's Democratic Party sought to establish a "party of the people," stating that the president should hold a national mandate from the voters. Jackson's populist message became the foundation for such leading progressives as Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Huey Long, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Like most early Americans, Jackson has blemishes on his record. His aggressive miliary action against Native Americans, especially the Seminoles, has been judged harshly by history, but in hindsight, it was Jackson's leadership during the First Seminole War that allowed for Florida to join the Union.

Prior to the Florida engagement, Jackson had recruited free black men to serve alongside his white soldiers against the British during the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans in 1815 was historic, because the American forces under the command of Jackson were comprised of white and black soldiers, as well as some Native Americans. Such diversity in the U.S. military was unprecedented at the time.

Just as President George W. Bush is attemting to rewrite history in regards to the Iraq War, the unelected chair of the Leon County Democratic Party, Monica O'Neill, is now attempting to rewrite the history of the national Democratic Party. Democrats and those who respect their Party's grand history must stop her.

Today, extremists in the Democratic Party aim their hostility toward great men like Jefferson and Jackson. But who is next? Will extremists in the party go after Presidents Kennedy and Clinton or Dr. Martin Luther King, because of the perception by some that they degraded women? Will anti-war extremists attack Wilson and FDR because they were aggressive wartime presidents.? Will human rights activists attack the memory of Harry Truman because he oversaw the destruction in Japan caused by two nuclear bombs?

O'Neill's attacks on the founders of the Democratic Party are ridiculous and point out the party's fundamental problem, a lack of leadership. Florida Democrats should be focused on the future, not dwelling on the past. Additionally, Ms. O'Neill should not take it upon herself to serve as an apologist for the Democratic Party, when the party has done so much to make America the greatest country in the world.

Fortunately, Ms. O'Neill's interim period is quickly coming to an end. Let's hope that her successor concentrates his efforts on the positive instead of blaming Democrats for the country's shortcomings. Leon Democrats deserve a better leader than Monica O'Neill. Let's hope they get one.

Also published at Florida Politics and Daily Kos.