Wear It Proudly


By Tony Marks

I grew up on superheroes. Like so many others, I was inspired by men and women who put a symbol on their chest and went out in the world to help others. That sense of openly standing for something has stayed with me over the years and deeply shaped my career. Not only did I keep my Superman ringtone, but as I began creating branding strategies I realized my logo test for clients inevitably came down to whether a design was superhero-like … if I would proudly wear it on a T-shirt to communicate who I am.

But why am I telling you this? After the November elections, I read the same e-mails as you. I heard that Democrats in Tennessee were divided and demoralized. Everyone was talking about what we didn’t have: no unifying message, no “brand,” and no active community. Like other Democrats my age and younger, I was inspired to change the conversation and move the party in a more positive direction.

First, I created “Tennessee Democrat” to focus instead on what we do have, an identity rooted in the Southern values of hard work, fairness, community, and compassion. Under a name broad enough to include everyone and generic enough to stand in for the TNDP, I’ve worked in my spare time to share positive Democratic stories, promote our values, and build an online hub for community action. Though “Out of the Blue” has become our most valuable way of connecting statewide I’m still working at it each week, and if you want to be a part of it visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Then, I reached out to help tackle the challenges of message and money. Instead of worrying about what words to use, we decided that our work should be the message. Volunteering and other community involvement is a stronger and more genuine way to communicate what we’re about. After all, Superman didn’t just go around saying he was Superman. He just went out each day and did Superman things. To help fundraise, we agreed to offer a new “uniform” of well-branded merchandise so active Democrats across the state can proudly share who they are – even if it’s just at the grocery store. The first T-shirt designs from this new Proud Tennessee Democrat line will be on sale at this year’s Jackson Day. You can see the shirts at www.tndp.org/store, and county parties and other groups can place bulk orders by e-mailing merch@tndp.org.

As part of the TNDP’s tribute to Gov. Ned Ray McWherter at Jackson Day, we’re unveiling a collector’s edition poster commemorating one of the Governor’s best-known and most inspiring quotes.

Tennessee Democrats have a long history of big personalities, common sense ideas, and a commitment to helping those in need. That’s something of which all of us can and should be proud. I hope this Proud Tennessee Democrat project can empower us to get out there again to tell people who we are and to fight for what we believe. Just like superheroes.

Wednesday Roundup


Andy Berke has been named to the New Deal Network and has been named an innovative leader in promoting business. He joins Rep. Mike Stewart. LINK

If you don’t think your vote matters, you might want to go over and read Georgiana Vines’ analysis on the Knoxville mayor’s race yesterday where it appears there is going to be a run-off between candidates Madeline Rogero and Mark Padgett.  Rogero came up just 16 votes shy of an outright win and only 16.5 percent of Knoxvillians voted in the non-partisan race. LINK

Chas Sisk writes in today’s Tennessean that the new Tennessee Voter ID law (which is a hot topic this week online) have made some seniors feel under siege. LINK

The requirement is especially controversial among senior citizens, many of whom have been voting for decades in Tennessee without having to produce a picture ID. While some seniors believe the law will combat voter fraud, others say its main purpose is to suppress turnout among older voters by requiring them to revisit driver’s license stations.

“It is a 2½-hour wait just to get somebody to see you,” Mary Lou Pierce, 73, said over a taco lunch Tuesday in Bellevue. “It is ridiculous (when) you’re talking about somebody’s who’s got a walker. … That is just awful, and it is to disenfranchise.”

Sen. Bill Ketron, along with Jonathon Fagan, held a press conference on Monday complaining that a local democratic activist who has a felony record was allowed to vote before he could legally. The presser evolved into Ketron defending the Voter ID act requiring photo identification. LINK

“The fact that Sen. Ketron would stoop so low to engage in a personal smear campaign against one of his constituents is distasteful and disgusting,” Puttbrese said. “The voter ID law doesn’t do anything to weed out who the felons are.”
Mary Mancini at Tennessee Citizens Action has a solution to deal with the Rutherford County Election Commission where a press conference isn’t necessary. LINK

Perhaps it would be better to focus on the real source of the problem. Perhaps a a real solution would be to make sure that election officials have a thorough process in place to address this scenario including cross referencing voter rolls with felony convictions and simplifying the laws that govern how and when an ex-felons can get their right to vote back.


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