In an unprecedented rebuke of the current leadership of the Alabama Democratic Party, the DNC voted unanimously last week to strip ADP Chair Nancy Worley and ADP Vice-Chair Randy Kelley of their DNC credentials. This harsh, but long overdue, admonishment came on the heels of the state party missing multiple deadlines to re-write its by-laws and to hold new and fair elections for party leadership.

Worley’s response to being named persona non grata was beyond outrageous and indicative of why she has no business running a state party. After the ruling came down, she said, “And folks, you can sit here today and you can vote against us, but you know what? There will be a special circle in hell that is going to be as hot as it can be for people that defy the voting rights of people that have worked as some of the ones in Alabama I know have worked. So just get your boots on because you’re going to need a whole lot of water sprayed on you — not from those water hoses that we saw in Alabama back in the sixties — but it’s because you’re going to be burning in hell for taking away people’s voting rights. Thank you.”

Throughout Alabama, Democrats were overjoyed to see Worley’s credentials revoked and dismayed that ADP Minority Vice-Chair Joe Reed didn’t meet the same fate. Their respective and repeated abuses of power are common knowledge to the most casual observers of state party executive committee meetings. Yet, their negligence and incompetence at managing the most basic party functions speak to the urgent case for their immediate removal. For example, the ADP Facebook page hasn’t had a new post since July. They haven’t posted on Twitter since mid-May. The website is inexcusably out of date and lacks clear, current, and persuasive messaging to help viable candidates.

Finally, the DNC gave Alabama Democrats a scintilla of hope. The DNC historically loathes intervention in state party disputes, but the self-serving and manipulative machinations of Worley and Reed have put the ADP squarely on their radar.  With due respect to process and autonomy, the DNC is giving the state party the last chance to clean its house. True, it’s not the immediate response many would like, but it’s fair in terms of following proper procedure. Also, trust that there will be a heavy amount of scrutiny in the coming days because the DNC has a genuine interest in quickly ameliorating this sort of dysfunction and incompetence. It may seem an understatement, but the re-election of Sen. Doug Jones is of critical importance for state and national Democrats.

So, given this rare scintilla of hope, what should be the next move for Alabama Democrats who want to rebuild their party and support Democratic candidates? First, lobby state executive committee members to vote for new party leadership. Second, demand that the state party work with county party leaders to ensure that social and traditional media messaging is timely, consistent, and relevant. Third, get involved with a county party and/or volunteer with a campaign. It may take some time for the state party to get its act together, but Alabama Democrats don’t have the luxury of time to idly wait and see what happens.

There’s so much work to be done. Alabama faces a myriad of issues and it’s time for Democrats to rise and have their voices heard. This latest move by the DNC is just one step, but more steps need to follow. The state party desperately needs reform and, for now, it looks like it’s finally starting to take place. To paraphrase Marylin Monroe, sometimes things fall apart so that better things can come together.

It’s going to take more than a scintilla of hope, it’s going to take all Alabama Democrats getting involved.

Clete Wetli
Clete Wetli is former Chair of the Madison County Democrats and a liberal political activist.