The party’s over

by | Feb 28, 2014 | Democrats, Editor's Blog | 7 comments

This week, Bob Geary of The Independent wrote that Democratic Party Chair Randy Voller should step down. He also acknowledged that Voller won’t because he sees himself as a transformational figure. That summarizes Voller’s delusions and utter lack of understanding of power and influence.

Voller and his band of wing-nut supporters believe, because of party by-laws, that they have the power to shape the Democratic agenda and that elected officials are responsible to them. They have no sense of history to help them understand their misguided perceptions. In fact, the power of party officials comes purely from their ability to raise and distribute money and their relationships to elected officials.

The by-laws that Voller’s supporters cite ad nauseam on this blog and in other places hinge on rules that were written in the days of patronage. The party itself held power because virtually every government job, from street cleaner to department manager, was a political appointment. Party functionaries doled out jobs that were ultimately the decisions of elected officials and those functionaries, precinct captains, county chairs and executive committee members, owed their positions within the party to those elected officials, too.

Once patronage disappeared, the broad-based party structure became largely obsolete but the rules remain in place. Participation in party activities went into serious decline. Increasingly community and business leaders opted out and were replaced by party activists, most of whom were loyal to certain politicians at either the state or local level. Regardless, they understood that their influence rested with their relationships to elected officials and their organizations.

However, the Dean revolution in 2004 brought in a new brand of activists. They were more issue oriented than electorally focused. Some used the platform committee to push narrow agendas and naively thought that candidates would be forced to adopt them. Instead of building relationships, they tried to force their will.

But relationships, not party rules, are the foundation of politics. People give money to the party because they know and trust the people who will spend it. Elected officials listen to party officials because the locals are their conduit to the community. Without relationships and trust, the party officials have nothing to offer.

And that’s where we are today. Randy Voller and his followers have built no trusting relationships with elected officials or with the people who fund politics. Instead, they rely on an obsolete set of rules as their foundation of power. In fact, their influence only extends to about half of the 700 or so people who make up the State Executive Committee. They can keep the titles. They just have no power.

As long as Randy Voller is state party chair, the party’s over.


  1. wafranklin

    Mills: You place yourself among those who are trying to destroy the Democratic Party with your gratuitous lies and crap from Geary, whose growing dementia is now more established.

    I have not seen you do a damned thing except indulge in the personal destruction of Randy Voller. What the hell have you done for the party? Nothing, except character assassination with your friend Pearce and some of the Malcontent Caucus. The game of a whole bunch of you people, include some well know and high ranking people is to destroy Voller, personally, professionally and politically, with lies and innuendos, supported by a phalanx of fools who think that Democrats can exist without a party. You have no damned idea what a party is supposed to do, by law and custom and tradition. Suffice it to say, it is the basis for the elections every other year or every year. The Malcontents like NSL, BW and others want to kill off the party and rely on C4s. And that just as C4s are getting more restricted. They say: do not give to the Party, give to MY CANDIDATE(S). They would destroy the party so they could then pick up the pieces – they do not give a damned about the good voters in the hustings.

    Your personal terrorism of Voller is uncalled for. He could say “good morning” and you would accuse him of child abuse. You have no credibility or morals. I have seen no accomplishments from you anywhere, except the foolish attempt you make at this column. You have so misstated your case and with no facts, that anyone believing you is stupid.

    Voller has not been paid or drawn a salary, for work of up to 60 hours a week. He has been, in one year, to over 50 counties to work with county parties. And yes Stephen, it requires a healthy ego to brave the vicious and malicious like Mills. I know precisely who the “Randy haters” are and have some idea of the false things they believe. Beth Wood asked for her $500 back, so in honor of her disappearance, I sent in $1000. If you are a Democrat, then send in some money and stop your mile away BS. You are all mouth and lies. Get some facts for once. Stop this crap and destruction.

    What a loser.

    • geek49203

      (Conservative guy sits back on chair, munching popcorn, and wondering if he can post YouTube clips of the 1968 DNC Convention….)

    • Thomas Mills

      Bill, I worked my first precinct in Wadesboro in 1976 and have worked on some campaign in this state almost every election year since. I’ve served as a precinct vice-chair, precinct chair and third vice-chair of the Cleveland County Democratic Party. I’ve even counted votes before we had voting machines. I stopped serving as a party officer when I started to doing campaign work full time. I’ve watched and been part of the evolution of the party and its functions. I’ve known almost every party chair and executive director of the past 25 years and I’ve had my share of fights with them, but I have never seen the degree of self-serving incompetence that is going on now. You, Randy and your friends are the ones destroying the party with your litmus tests, mismanagement and attacks on “the electeds.” You are the Democratic version of the Tea Party. The purpose of the party is and always has been to elect Democrats and protect the ones who are already in office, not drive some narrow agenda.

      And, Geek, enjoy the show.

      • wafranklin

        My simple question: do you want a Democratic Party in 2015. If so, stop savaging Randy Voller at every opportunity. Yes or no? I would not join the Democrats until 2000 when Bush fell into the presidency. The old Democratic Party was the Dixiecrats and very insular. Second, why did the Democratic Party, or its leadership, not prepare new leaders in depth, only bring on new toadies. I warned anyone who would listen about what was coming with Pope and friends – no one seemed to pay attention. And, no, Voller and I are not destroying the Party, it is those who early constructed daily attacks in the media on him. If I did not know him well, I would still hate the groups that decided in 2013 that if they could not have the thing, piss on it and him – or did you not notice? In the end, you folks, whomever, have contrived to damage the reputation of Voller for reasons no one has explained. BTW, I have contributed heavily to the Party and have worked in the vineyard faithfully since 2002. How, pray tell do you equate any of us as Tea Party – that is a level of deliberate misunderstanding of monumental proportions. Please explain why certain people, consultants and others, ran checks of Voller and various people on Lexis-Nexis and passed data on their personal lives off to some of the leading candidates for officers, in fact several times. Does not engender much trust since some of the officers were implicated. Of course, there is an organized effort, and has been to destroy Voller or run him off. None of you has discussed the financial situation the party is in after loss of transnational money, tax check off money etc. Certain parties who were going to save us with fundraising, and quit in a huff, had very a poor record of bring in money when times were good. How was that person going to do anything in this environment. But, I draw the line when someone who is a Democrat tells other Democrats, “do not give to the Party:” bluntly and baldly, telling them to help Voller fail – and in the newspapers. Do you find that acceptable? Do you think we still need the party? Or just random C4s and their selected candidates. I have not seen the Republican Party disarm, only Democrats determine to destroy someone doing the job of chair.

        Voller inherited a bankrupt party and lots of folks want to use personal attacks to make sure it stays that way. And, at no time has he failed to help any other party members aid and assistance, even as they mocked and derided him in public. So, not there is a “hate Voller club” which flings dung randomly and often — and would have no idea how to run the party if they were thrust into the position. I am afraid the damage may well be done, so congratulations — I wish you could understand your part in this personal destruction of a good man, I am not sure you or others could understand, whether through willfulness or plain old stupidity.

    • Clyde Ingle

      Let a hard working local Democrat from a minority county, Wilkes, speak up here. What is the world has Voller done to support our efforts to develop a grass roots organization? I have sent repeated email questions to him and other members of the Exec. Committee over the past 6 months. And got one response from Secretary Williams, who when i asked where are the events on the events page of the state web page, told me he didn’t know and that the staff was overworked!! has no one down there heard of volunteers? Recent inquiries including a phone message to Mr. Belcher asking a technical question re the victory van has gotten me no, absolutely no response. the firing of the new Ex Dir has somehow gotten loss in the diatribe above. And the proposal to bring in a replacement who has no executive experince and a visible history that will distract from the task at hand- electing Democrats is simply stupid. Give us a break! Clean this mess up. We got work to do and we deserve better than this.
      Clyde Ingle Wilkes County

  2. Steve Harrison

    While I do think Randy has some “ego” issues that could be helped by a few long walks in the woods, it’s important to remember that he stepped into a big, stinking pile of doo-doo on day one of his tenure. His only chance for success was to be a uniting influence, and even that would have required a herculean effort. As it is, his efforts along those lines were dismal at best, so the result is unsurprising.

    With that in mind, who has the chops to step in and do it right? And for those who would say “anybody else”, I suggest they reread Thomas’ piece above. The fracture in the Party didn’t happen yesterday, and a bunch of happy talk from a polished politician isn’t going to fix it now.

  3. geek49203

    (checking byline) Who wrote this? And where is it posted? Cause, like, DAMN I agree with this! Kum bah frickin YAH!

    I lived in a (Michigan) district (MI-7) where the Dem Rep had to vote 100% for Pelosi Dem bills, in spite of the fact that some were bitterly opposed back home. If he didn’t then he wouldn’t get the Dem goodies at election time.

    The punchline, of course, is that in spite of spending $7 million to save that seat, the guy lost in the next election to the guy he’d previously beaten, a uber-conservative former pastor. He was condemned for thinking that rural Michigan was exactly like San Francisco. indeed, ObamaCare would’ve passed w/o him, and “everyone” knew that CapNTrade wasn’t gonna see the light of day in the Senate (as 2 examples). Arguably, he’s been better off to risk the wrath of the Dem machine, vote in a more popular manner, and kept his seat on the money he personally raised. Which, I think, is the argument here.

    But then, if you say that the hazard is the “wingnuts” (and yes, both sides have ’em), then what about when the leadership goes off in a very unpopular direction — which of course they did in 2009?

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