Democrats cannot afford to become complacent
By Sparta Live | August 27, 2018 8:49 am
Democratic Dialog – By Debra Wines
There is too much riding on the November 2018 election right now for Democrats to feel they can coast through the midterms. We don’t have the time or the energy to waste on the hope that people will turn away from any Republican candidate just because Donald Trump seems to be stewing in a rather large hot tub of swamp water. We have seen him rise, like a Phoenix, from fires that would have destroyed almost any other candidate. His followers don’t seem to care about his behavior, his divisive rhetoric, his harmful policies, or his lies. In their eyes, he and his fellow Republicans can do no wrong.
Democrats are going to have to band together, despite our differences, and work to get our qualified candidates elected or re-elected. I will be the first to admit, I have been disturbed and sometimes angry with the in-fighting going on within the Democratic Party. I have not agreed with some of the policies or bills they have supported on the national and state levels. I do understand the art of compromise. I do understand it takes a great deal of money to run a campaign. What I don’t understand is the Democrats who shy away from what used to be the core values of the Democratic Party.
I have been a Democrat my entire life because I always felt they represented the real concerns of the people and the country over corporations. When the Supreme Court declared “corporations were people, too,” and allowed all kinds of big money into the political arena, in my opinion, the Democrats were out to lunch and then had to play catch-up in order to compete for votes. The Supreme Court decision is a fact of life right now. Yet, many Democratic candidates have been showing “grass root” campaigns can be successful. The people who support “grass root” candidates seem to be able to relate to those candidates, and they become more engaged. When people feel a candidate truly understands not only the daily struggles people face but also the triumphs they accomplish, they respond in a positive manner.
The Democratic Party needs to get back to the basics of our core values. Recently, several Republican candidates have said they represent “Tennessee values.” That message is a little murky, and, when asked exactly what that means, the answers were ambiguous. I lived in several different states and know many people who live or have lived in other parts of the country, and I have found the majority of people have the same “values.” Those “values” center around family, and being able to provide their family with love, a safe and decent community to live in, respect and caring for others, a quality educational system, and the ability to have a good job.
Recently, I received a questionnaire from the Tennessee Democratic Party asking me to check off the top three items that were the most important to me. There were about 20 items listed. I didn’t fill out the questionnaire because I thought it was ridiculous. Every item on that list was important to my family and me. The items, in my opinion, were exactly what the Democratic Party should be promoting. Now, if the questionnaire had asked me to rank all the items of their importance, I might have replied. I know and understand no political party can address all the issues that affect their members, but asking for a top three out of 20, I felt, was narrowing the field down too much. The majority of those issues seemed to address things on a national level and not on a state level. In my opinion, it was a poorly designed questionnaire. It might have been better to have divided it into sections, such as state and/or national issues. Either way, it doesn’t really matter if the Democratic Party is in-fighting, especially on whether candidates are too progressive, too centered, or too far right; these issues are being addressed effectively.
The Democratic Party will never succeed if they can’t get their act together on any level. In Tennessee, we have some very conscientious people who are running for state offices. Granted some of those candidates may have never run for public office before; that should not disqualify them. These are concerned people who have sacrificed their time, money, and private lives to take a stand to make life better for the people of Tennessee, not just members of their own party or large contributors. They genuinely care about the well-being of people whose voices have been drowned out by few who have the money, influence, and power to maintain the status quo for themselves. They are working hard to let people know they are honoring the basic values of all citizens. They also want to make sure the people living in our great state, whether they were born here or chose to make Tennessee their home, are treated as equal human beings.
As Democrats, whether we live in very “red” cities or counties, we can’t throw up our hands and just wish things could be different. Yes, it is an uphill battle. The indivisible groups that have formed in Tennessee since the 2016 elections are making a difference. It is a slow process but a necessary process. We must do whatever we can to support those candidates, encourage our friends and families to register to vote, and then get out and vote. Our state and our country need our support and votes. We can no longer sit back and make excuses for not using our right to vote. It is disgraceful that the majority of Tennesseans do not get engaged in the voting process. Tennessee isn’t the only state where this happens; it is happening all over the country.
I understand how easily discouraged people can get, especially with the reports we are hearing about the barriers being implemented to make voting, in many areas, much more difficult than it should be. We’ve all heard and experienced the results of gerrymandering districts to help one party over another. We have been warned to double-check your voter registration records to make sure you are still listed as a registered voter because people have been removed from those records for various reasons. Since the start of special and primary elections this year, you have probably heard news reports of voting machines that have been hacked or ones that have had serious “glitches,” which could change a person’s vote. We need to remain vigilant, and, most importantly, we need to use our right to vote not only because it is our civic duty, but because voting is the best way we can honor those men and women who have fought for our right to have the freedom to vote for whomever we feel is right for us, our community, our state, and our country.
I feel the most patriotic thing any American citizen can do is vote. Let your voice be heard. You may never find a candidate that you agree with 100 percent, but if they can meet the majority of your expectations, do whatever you can to help those candidates get elected, even if all you can do is cast your vote for them. The worst thing Democrats can do right now is to assume the “blue wave” will be overwhelmingly successful. We can’t hope and pray that will happen. We need to work for it. Democrats have represented the people who work hard for a living and a better life for themselves, their families, and their fellow man. That is our strongest bond and value. None of us can afford to forget our core values, or we could be in danger of losing them all.