Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Which Side Are You On?

For the past many months, Democratic campaigns in our area have concentrated on influencing party activists. These are the people who knock on doors, make phone calls, attend coffees, contribute money, and do all the things that have to be done to win elections. Generally, they pay more attention to politics than most voters do, and they influence the outcome of elections. Their friends, families, and neighbors look to them for guidance on who to vote for.

One of the candidates in the upcoming Democratic primary has met very strong resistance within his party. The party activists are upset that year after year, while they were doing the hard work of trying to get Democratic candidates elected, this candidate was helping Republican candidates.

It wouldn't surprise most people that the party activists have been soundly rejecting this candidate, but it seems to have surprised the candidate. Probably because he hasn't been one of the people who has been active in the Democratic party, he doesn't seem to understand just how deeply their feelings run. These aren't people who help candidates so that they can retain patronage jobs or get government contracts. These are people who volunteer because they feel passionately about the issues and believe that their efforts are needed if our country is to be strong, prosperous, a respecter of individuals' rights, a force for peace and justice, and a land of freedom and opportunity.

Under George Bush, these Democratic Party activists saw our country turn in an ugly direction. They saw the Republican congressman who represented them push the regressive Republican agenda, while pretending not to. These activists paid attention to their congressman's objectionable voting record on dozens of important issues. Then, when Obama became president, they watched that Republican congressman, now a senator and still pretending to be moderate and independent, vote along with all the other Republicans to prevent the new president from making the changes the American people had elected him to make.

The activists in my district saw their Republican congressman vote against health care reforms that would have given people the same kind of medical care that the government is now providing to the congressman as he recovers from a stroke. When their congressman became a senator, they saw his Republican replacement continue to vote along with the regressive wing of his party to deny basic services to needy people, while, like his predecessor, pretending to be compassionate and independent.

The Democratic activists are angry at the self-proclaimed Democratic candidate who seems to think that his decade-long efforts to defeat them should be forgotten or forgiven. They see no reason to embrace him. Instead, they have been lining up behind another candidate who has actually worked along with them these past several years to promote the agenda that they support.

In time, if the newly converted Democrat sticks with his new-found party, the activists will probably accept him. But it won't happen right away. Because right now, the only evidence that the self-proclaimed former Republican-supporter can offer to show that he has in fact changed his mind is his own say-so. The Democratic activists aren't impressed, considering the damage he has caused by his actions over the last ten years by supporting not only the Republican candidates they were trying to defeat, but also other right-wing Republicans across the country.

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