Can and will Democrats make a comeback?

By | July 31, 2017 6:33 am

Democratic Dialog – Debra Wines

I don’t think anyone will argue the Democratic Party, in Tennessee and throughout the country, has lost its focus and its way over the past several years. There are all kinds of rhetoric about going back to basics and being better representatives of the working class of Americans, yet it is difficult for most liberals and progressives to believe and trust in the party that seems to have lost its will to even pretend to put up a good fight for the 98 percent of Americans.

The best they have been able to do, so it appears, is occasionally stand in front of microphones and TV cameras and denounce the Republicans for their lack of leadership and proposed legislative programs that can be harmful to so many Americans. There seems to be no real passion in their words and very little in their actions. Granted, there are a few who show passion and actions, but without the support of their fellow Democrats, how do they expect to win over Independents and moderate conservatives who do not support the current alt-right Republican administration.

I know several people who have become so disillusioned by the Democratic Party’s platform/policies and behavior, especially since the mid-term elections in 2010, they are ready to give up on the party. They are looking for alternatives. Perhaps that isn’t a bad idea. I am sure there are plenty of disgruntled people from the right and the left who are wondering why their political parties have chosen to ignore the majority of their voters. I do feel we are all finally becoming aware that the voices of the 98 percent of Americans, no matter what party we may identify with, are being drowned out by the big corporations, lobbyists, and groups like Citizens United, ALEC, and numerous far right evangelical pseudo Christian groups.

The true power, in our country right now, seems to be money and greed. One only has to look at the vast power the mega “Christian” churches have, not only in our politics but what they are preaching. They seem to have shifted from helping people live by Jesus Christ’s basic teachings to love one another, treat people as you wanted to be treated, and help those in need, to the only way to be successful in life is to make lots of money. Mr. Trump emphasized this when he spoke at the latest Boy Scout Jamboree, in West Virginia, last week. He basically ignored the major principles of the Boy Scout’s code and told those young men to go out and become rich, because according to Mr. Trump, that’s the only way to be successful, happy, and powerful.

Our Founding Fathers’ intentions were to have a distinct separation of church and state (government) because they did not want to repeat the type of tyranny they experienced in Europe where the church controlled the governments. We have been slipping in our duty to keep the separation of church and state. Even Senator Barry Goldwater warned the American people of the approaching “slippery slope” by allowing religious zealots to worm their way into politics, starting with their pulpits and rallying their followers to fight against laws and policies they felt were against some teaching in the Old Testament.

I will admit, the Civil Rights Movement of the late 50’s and 60’s was indeed supported by various religious groups. The movement was based on the fight for human dignity and the proper implementation of laws that were already on the books. It was also a movement to make sure those laws were followed by everyone, as they were intended. Denying human and civil rights was not something you would find in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his apostles. Jesus believed in treating everyone with dignity and love. He fought against the money-changers in the temple and preached that the rich should do whatever they can to take care of others who were less fortunate. I believe he meant for those who experienced great success in their lives on earth would earn their place in heaven by lending a helping hand to those who were sick, out of work, or had fallen on hard times for whatever reason.

Seeing what is happening in Washington D.C. and in our own state of Tennessee, money doesn’t just talk; it shouts over the voices of the majority of people who don’t have mega-millions or billions and the power to control our government to enhance their own wants and desires. At times, our country needs our churches to remind their congregations that injustice of any kind is not what Jesus taught us. He did not teach us to hate. He did not teach us to judge others. Jesus did not teach us to ignore the needs of our brothers and sisters. Even though there should be a separation of church and state, which gives people the right and freedom to practice whatever religion they subscribe to, the majority of any religious teachings are basically the same – love one another, treat each other with kindness and understanding, and help those in need. None of the religions I am familiar with teach that money is more important than their God. Most of them do teach money and earthly things are gifts to be used wisely but should never be worshipped and placed on a higher level than God.

Somewhere along the line, in the last 40-plus years, we have essentially made money and someone’s religious beliefs two qualities more important when choosing a candidate to represent us in every aspect of our government, and look what it has gotten us. The battles that we have fought for minorities and especially women’s rights have taken on a “religious” entity that never should have happened. The original abortion issue had been fought so that women could have the right to choose a safe and legal procedure when a woman felt it was the right choice for her, whether it concerned her own physical and/or mental health, the health of the fetus, and/or circumstances such as rape or incest. The religious right set out on a campaign to make abortion a hot button issue for people running for office. As their power grew, so did the battle over abortion, which has now morphed into a battle over birth control for women and the overall healthcare for women. How did the right of all women take such a twisted turn? Instead of churches counseling their female members to avoid choosing abortions or helping those women faced with making that choice, those churches chose to condemn and bully women and make it difficult and, in some cases, impossible for any woman to have the opportunity to make the choice that was right for her and her family. There are plenty of examples of how the religious right has been pushing their agenda via their chosen legislators to accommodate their “religious” beliefs while ignoring and limiting the rights and beliefs of others.

The Republican Party embraced the religious right and their “Christian” values with open arms and hands. There was the underlying belief of the supremacy of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants – that if we are truthful with ourselves – once belonged to the Democratic party of the past. People love to remind us the KKK started under the tutelage of the Southern Democrats, after their loss in the Civil War. It the past 60-plus years or so, the philosophies of the Democrats and Republicans have traded places, and along the way, the premise of a government for the people, by the people, became so diluted, that even “we the people” are wondering how do we re-instate the basic policies and philosophies of our local, state, and federal government and get our elected representatives to work for us instead of special interest and mega donors?

The Democratic Party needs to get back to basics. They need to fight and support the 98% Americans. They need to fight for the basic needs of the 98 percent, supporting good schools for everyone; affordable healthcare for everyone; regulations that provide safe working environments; clean air, water and air for everyone; good paying jobs for all workers and training for displaced workers in the new environments that will keep jobs here in America; and they need to ensure the safety nets for the disabled, our veterans, and our seniors are not ripped to shreds and cause more fear and insecurity for the most vulnerable among us. The Democrats must support good candidates for public office, in any way they can. They cannot just support the people based on their fundraising abilities. The quality of the candidate must be based on their perceived ability to fight for and support the needs of their constituency, not the size of their bank account. Most of all, the Democratic Party must get some backbone, stand up for the people and quit being manipulated by the groups with money who are intent on making more money for themselves and their businesses, instead of working to give the majority of Americans a government that is run for their benefit.

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