They've been a tradition for decades, but sometimes, tradition has to make way for progress. The Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners, which hold the surnames of two respected early presidents, serve as a way for the Democrats to fundraise and bring attention to their candidates. However, as the Democratic Party evolves, leaders have decided to build its traditions on more forward-thinking people. Iowa Democrats voted Saturday to change the name of the Jefferson-Jackson Day fundraising dinners.
The dinner attracts crowds and top candidates in the early voting state of Iowa, the site of the first caucuses. However, its namesake has a questionable legacy that the Republican Party, with its equivalent Lincoln-Reagan Day dinners, doesn't have to worry about. Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were both slave owners, a history that Democrats do not want tarnishing their appreciation for social issues such as race.
"The vote to change the name of the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner comes after much debate and discussion among our activists and grass-roots leaders around the state," Party Chairwoman Andy McGuire said in a statement. "This was not a decision that was made lightly. The vote today confirms that our party believes it is important to change the name of the dinner to align with the values of our modern-day Democratic Party: inclusiveness, diversity and equality."
The party says that it would solicit suggestions for a new name from the public, and some people have wasted no time in giving their ideas. Here are eight alternative names:
The Roosevelt Dinners
It isn't clear which Roosevelt this Twitter user means: Teddy? Franklin Delano? Eleanor? All three had progressive legacies that have affected the opinions of the Democratic Party.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Including a civil rights leader would definitely be going in the opposite direction of former slave owners. The Twitter user makes a good point about the effect of non-elected influencers.
Mississippi already has the right idea in including a civil rights leader. The state changed the name of its event to Jefferson-Jackson-Hamer to celebrate Fannie Lou Hamer, the Mississippi-born black female advocate for voting and civil rights.
Tom Harkin is a politician from Iowa, so it makes sense that Iowa Democrats would want to throw in some local flair. This name doesn't change the problem of celebrating two former slave owners, though.
Some people have wanted more modern names, which could be dividing. Also, which Clinton might they mean? I don't think Bernie Sanders would be happy with this name.
As a former president who doesn't get a lot of attention today, it would be nice to include Truman.
A president from the most volatile decade in the Civil Rights movement could make a strong statement. The Kennedy presidency saw much progress.
Some states bypassed the idea of naming the dinners after a famous figure. In Wisconsin, the event is called the "Founder's Day Gala," and Minnesotans renamed theirs the "DFL Founders Day Dinner."
Images: Visit Mississippi/Flickr