Holding out hope for the party

Kitty Schaller holds my favorite sign from Saturday’s rally.

I was ready to make a very public exit from the Democratic party if Tom Perez won the chairmanship, but other events Saturday raised my hopes for the party.

It started with the precinct cluster meetings in the morning. I’m vice-chair of my precinct (45.1 in Buncombe County, NC), and in previous years, the chair, John Parker, and I had to scramble to get five people out to a meeting so we could have a quorum. We had to make calls and get people to the meetings so our precinct wouldn’t lose our “organized” status.

“Can you just stop by for a half hour while we vote on resolutions and elect officers?” we begged. We were able to keep organized, but barely.

Yesterday, instead of begging for people to show up, we had 16 people, several of whom were young and progressive. The others were from a retirement community, and I was afraid they might be conservative Democrats like the ones who killed several progressive resolutions last year, but they were old-style progressives who decided to become active again so we could take our party back from pro-corporate influences.

Last year a conservative banker convinced people to vote against a resolution calling for re-regulation of the banks and against a resolution calling for a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. He wouldn’t stop talking until he had the votes to defeat these two resolutions.

This year, the banker was nowhere to be seen and both resolutions passed unanimously, along with resolutions calling for an immediate raise in the minimum wage to $15, plus one calling for a single-payer health care system. In all, we passed nearly a dozen progressive resolutions, all unanimously.

I wrote two resolutions — the ones calling for the $15 minimum wage and Medicare for all — and most of the precincts passed them without amendments. One precinct leader asked if the minimum wage resolution could be amended to phase in the $15 over three to five years. I told them no. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, five years without a living wage is not an option. The raise is needed now, and in five years, inflation adjustments should have it up to about $20. People need to be able to feed, clothe and shelter their families NOW, not in five years.

“Well, these a pretty conservative people,” the precinct chair said.

“Those are the very people we need to outnumber to take the party back,” I said. “Go ahead and write your own resolution, but mine stays as is.”

These new party activists were Bernie Sanders supporters, determined to move the Democratic Party back to its FDR progressivism, back to the days when LBJ signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. They were inspired by the organization, Our Revolution, which is comprised of progressive fighters.

I left the precinct meeting with renewed faith that we can do this.

From there, I went to speak at an Our Revolution rally downtown. We had 500 people turn out to call for improvements to our health care system, from support of keeping and improving the ACA, to a public option in the marketplace, to single-payer.

I told my son’s story and reminded people that 45,000 Americans died the same way every year before the ACA took effect. We’re still losing 15,000 to 20,000 in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid.

What I saw yesterday was a determination to take the Democratic Party left again.

When it was announced that Tom Perez won the party chair election, we were encouraged by the fact that the election was close and that our candidate, Keith Ellison, is now the vice-chair and that Perez has vowed to work closely with him.

I am encouraged. We have to remember that the Republican right wing has worked since the 1960s to achieve what it has, and that in one election cycle, we progressives have made remarkable progress.

So, let’s follow the Indivisible playbook. Let’s take this nation back in the 2018 elections, despite gerrymandering, despite voter suppression laws. We are the majority. If we work for this, and most importantly, if we vote, we will not fail.

The morning after

Looks like this is the match-up for November.

Looks like this is the match-up for November.

 

It appears we have a Democratic candidate, and it is historic.

Millions of racists are about to show their sexism, and millions of poor losers are ready to let the nation crash and burn because they didn’t get their way.

Welcome to the world of politics, Millennials.

Hillary Clinton was not my first choice; Bernie Sanders was, and I was as passionate in my support for him as anyone.

Most people who know me understand that my most important issue is access to health care, and Hillary Clinton has said she doesn’t see us ever getting to single-payer. Bernie promised me he would fight for it.

I met Bernie twice and told him how my son died from lack of access to health care. Both times he hugged me and said, “I’m working on this, I promise you.” He will keep working on it in the Senate now and I have to be OK with that.

Movements take time and revolutions rarely achieve their goals at the voting booth.

So, rather than flip the bird at the country, I will vote for Hillary and hope that we who supported Bernie will pull her to the left.

I say this because I don’t believe violence is the answer, and the fuck-you attitude of some of Bernie’s supporters will only lead to violence.

Here is why I don;t think writing Bernie’s name in or voting for Jill Stein is the solution:

Four years ago, when the Democrats here in North Carolina ran Walter Dalton, an incredibly weak candidate, people shrugged and said, “So, let the Republicans take it all, and then we’ll win it back because people will be so pissed off.”

I told one friend I thought that was a dangerous tactic, and I was right. The damage the extremists have done in this state is epic, and some if it will never be fixed.

Coal ash pollution is forever, as are fracking chemicals (which have yet to be unleashed, but the General Assembly has approved their use and the governor signed it).

The 8,000 or so people who have died from lack of access to health care because these people refuse to expand Medicaid can’t be resurrected. They are gone. Ask their families how your attitude worked for them.

The children who are in our schools are missing a decent education as teachers stage a mass exodus from the state, and those kids can’t get that opportunity back.

There are damages that can be fixed, but they will take time. Rebuilding our state’s reputation will take a generation or more.

So, go ahead, flip off the candidate that could prevent these things on a national scale. Sure, let Trump take it and see how quickly we’ll be at war with China or North Korea, or both. Watch things escalate in the Middle East. See how long it takes somebody to use a nuclear weapon. Maybe we could start a pool to see who comes closest to the date and time. Bonus dollars for a reason for the mess. (“China insulted my wife.”)

Vote for Trump and watch your Social Security and Medicare disappear. Watch your Supreme Court become a rubber stamp for the wishes of the extremists and billionaires. Watch your water become too polluted to drink while what little drinkable water is left is privatized and sold for profit. And watch as minimum wage is abolished and your children are forced to subsist on $2.50 an hour.

Hillary Clinton is the most examined candidate of all time. She has endured a quarter century under the microscope, and no one has found anything concrete. She did not break the law with her e-mails, even though her detractors want to believe she did. She did not cause the embassy in Benghazi to be attacked — the Republicans in Congress who denied her request for funding for security there are far more responsible for that fatal attack than she was. She didn’t kill Vince Foster.

Hillary may not be as slick as her husband, but she is highly intelligent, and she is highly qualified.

I will vote for her, and I will hold her feet to the fire because movements take time. It took the right-wing extremists decades to take power, building a strong base as they climbed; it will take us time to get it back.

You can be more constructive by encouraging the formation of a viable third party in time for the next election, but there is no excuse for allowing a Trump presidency. None whatsoever.

So, instead of whining, get to work. You’ll never get anything if you don’t work for it, and sitting in a corner flipping the bird and sulking will get you nowhere.

 

 

 

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