Thursday, April 3, 2014

Will the Democrats Stand Up?

West Wing spoke to many of us over a decade ago.  I was so in thrall to its message that I actually went out and bought the entire series, and determined that someday I would start from the beginning and do it again.

About a year ago, I decided the time was right.  I have been watching one episode a week now, and find to my surprise/dismay, the same political games and the same attacks on the same groups, with the exception of the recent gains made in marriage equality and marijuana legalization.  Women are still fighting to keep our reproductive freedom and privacy; African Americans' right to vote is still under attack; the same programs that make some small dent in the struggles of the poor are being picked at by corporate and right-wing vultures.

So when Bruno Gianelli, campaign organizer for Bartlett's
re-election campaign said this:


I threw my bowl of popcorn to the floor and stood up and cheered.

In spite of the fact that the republican party has become more destructive with each passing year, and in spite of the fact that the goal of these right-wingnuts is to take from the poor and middle class to make the wealthy even richer and more powerful, I am hearing Democrats talk about the possibility -- no, the likelihood -- that we could lose the US Senate.

Even as more of us benefit from the Affordable Care Act, democrats, rather than take this as the cue to turn moderate republican voters (most republicans) to our cause, are tip-toeing around the fact that this program just might be a success.

Here in South Carolina, we support democrats who do not support women's reproductive rights or LGBT freedom, who do not openly support President Obama, or the Affordable Care Act, or Food Stamps, who incredibly vote in favor of allowing guns in bars.  Our candidates will continue to force us to live in a right-to-work-cheap state because they just have no clue as to how anyone could be helped by a union.

That's it, really.  Too many democrats running for office that appear to be clueless about what it is to be a Democrat.  It's almost as though the thought process is, "Gee, there's already a republican running, and I really want to win this election, so I may as well run as a democrat."

I'm with Bruno Gianelli on this.  I've had it with politicians expecting me to vote for them because I'm a Democrat and, well, they are running as democrats.  Not good enough.  If you want my vote, start now by acting like a Democrat.  That means fighting for individuals who may not have the financial clout, or may be in the minority, or may be too beaten down to get out and vote for you.

You never know.  If our candidates fearlessly run as the opposing party, they may actually be heard by young men and women who really haven't seen a reason to turn out and vote -- yet.  Those poor people that are so easily dismissed may be staunch supporters if they think you might honestly make a difference in their lives.

Our state and county democratic party needs to try a lot harder to invite people in, and to get them heard.  They need to stop looking for the safe candidate and begin to look for real Democrats.  They need to stop thinking that cheerleading is going to convince voters that their candidate is going to make a difference.

Barack Obama has had a tough uphill slog.  I have been among his critics.  But I have to say that, once he decided to talk and act like a Democrat he began to get things done.  If he were starting his presidency today, knowing what he knows now, he just might be pushing for universal health care.  He is not equivocating about raising the minimum wage, although shamefully, some congressional democrats are starting to do that dance.  His eventual support for marriage equality has helped in the progress that has been made.  He is fighting for the vast numbers of people who have been imprisoned for minor drug possession.

He's not perfect, but he's certainly given our politicians some coattails that they can hold on to.  They just need to stop cowering in the corner.  As Bruno Gianelli said:

"No more.  Let's have two parties."

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