It’s hard to miss Donna Beth McCormick, and it’s impossible to ignore her. A force of nature in the local, state and national Democratic Party, she nurtures dreams and issues commands in equal measure. Her latest command that we dare not defy is this: “If you want to have a voice, you better get your butt to the County Convention!”
The 2012 TCDP Convention is Saturday the 21st at the Austin Convention Center, and Donna Beth, the accidental owner of nine cats (including an 18-year-old “senior”), will be taking names and keeping track. She will hunt you down if you do not register as a delegate and attend. You will be sorry if you do not obey, so sign up now.
McCormick doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t involved in politics, from her childhood in West Texas to joining UT’s Young Democrats in the 1950s to today. A member of countless clubs and organizations (political and otherwise) and a former staffer with the Texas Democratic Party, she has worked locally and nationally on numerous campaigns, from municipal to presidential. She even advised on education issues during the Clinton-Gore Administration while she was working in Washington, D.C.
McCormick is currently a Precinct Chair and President-Elect of Texas Democratic Women. She never misses an opportunity to vote, and she hasn’t missed a County Convention since 1984. Her perspective is forceful and historic.
QUESTION: Our TCDP Convention is this Saturday. Why should people attend?
McCORMICK: First of all, if you want to be part of the process, have a voice and know what’s going on, you need to get yourself to the County Convention. Women especially need to get themselves there because of what the Republicans are doing to us. But everybody needs to be involved. If you don’t participate and don’t vote, you cannot complain. If you want to see Democrats in power again in Texas, you have to come to the Convention and make your thoughts known. Staying home doesn’t help.
QUESTION: The National Conventions, and sometimes the State Conventions, get all the attention, but County Conventions have definite advantages, don’t they? Explain.
McCORMICK: Everybody has a voice at the County Convention, because it’s much smaller. You can be on committees, do your resolutions and be heard. You get to hear elected officials and go up and talk to them, tell them what you think and what you want. It’s real access. If you want to be heard at the State and National Conventions, you’ve got to start at the County. If you want to have a voice, you better get your butt to the County Convention.
QUESTION: Yes, ma’am. Now give us a quick rundown of all the conventions you have attended.
McCORMICK: My first TCDP Convention was in 1984, after I came back to Austin from working for UT-Dallas and M.D. Anderson in Houston. In ’84 I also went to the State Convention, and I think I’ve only missed one of those since ‘84, too. I went to the National Conventions in Chicago in ’96 and in Los Angeles in 2000.
QUESTION: What was the most fun you’ve ever had at a political convention — that you can tell us about?
McCORMICK: I was always working, but probably the most fun at the State Conventions is the dignitaries that come and the involvement you have with them. Hillary (Clinton) came to the one in Fort Worth, and people had their pictures made with her and talked with her. You can see exhibits and buy all kinds of great donkey stuff, too!
QUESTION: A League of Women Voters poll found that Texas ranks 49th in women voting. That’s surprising and depressing. What do you make of it, and what can we do about it?
McCORMICK: If an election doesn’t affect childcare, grocery bills, mortgage payments or gasoline, they don’t care as much. It has to affect their daily lives to get them involved. Until they see that it does affect them, many people are just willing to let the world just go by. It blows my mind.
Texas has some strong women, so I don’t really know why they’re sitting back more than others. Are we too busy? Everybody’s too busy. At Texas Democratic Women, our focus is on health care and education, topics that women really can rally around. When women vote, Democrats win. We know that. We also know that when women are in office, problems get solved in a timely manner and in a civilized manner. We’ve got to do better here in Texas, and we will.