Monday, January 17


(This started as a post to AmericaBlog, which has been out of commission for several days. But it got so long, Comments wouldn't accept it, so here it is:)

Welcome back, John in DC! For many of us, we've realized your value to the political discourse by MISSING it.

Martin Frost is a good man, a good Democrat, but pragmatic in the (not extreme) electoral process. He is not a good choice for DNC Chair, but we should not be attacking or alienating pols like him and Tim Roemer as the Republicans do their own moderates. I am a Deaniac (Howard for DMC Chair!), and continued to be so until Kerry won the nomination, and then supported HIM all the way. As Democrats, we should be supportive of other Democrats (except for the Zell Miller types). There is even room in our tent for Joe Lieberman and Tim Roemer.

Let me put it this way. I am a life-long fervent and activist Democrat. My beloved nephew (my third son to my mind) has spent the past year as an employee/activist of Kerry-Edwards '04, despite his ex-hippie-now-fabulous Christian parents' support of GWB on one issue: abortion. As Christians, my husband and I and three out of five of our grown children have opposed the pseudo-Christian positions of the fratboy-turned-politician GWB regarding his policies toward war, domestic security, and the economy. My precious and brilliant dad, after retiring from a career in the military officer corps, became a Social Security bureaucrat. He and I established a policy dialogue from before I reached my teens, and I benefited greatly from his insights. He always encouraged me to think for myself, and for most of my life our political views were aligned, though not perfectly. Daddy believed the U.S.A. was a meritocracy, but that was at least partly prompted by government programs such as the Officers Candidates School and the G.I. Bill, which enabled brilliant young men such as him to rise from the ranks of the poor to the professional class. In fact, he was JFK campaign chairman for north Florida, and one of my most cherished pictures is of my dad and JFK at a lunch counter during the 1960 campaign. It was Daddy's only real opportunity to participate in politics after he retired from the military and before he joined the U.S. government bureaucracy. My mother and father never forgot their humble origins and for all their lives strove to lift up their fellow man (and woman). It's a great part of why I love and honor them.

But that was then, and this is now. The United States has never seen such a government as GWB has established. There is almost no bipartisanship that is not driven by political expediency. The fate of the U.S.A. is not in the hands of its people, history and principles, but subject to political pragmatism, i.e. "What will get me (us) re-elected?" For the Repugs, it's become all about power. For many DLC Democrats it is the same, although with more idealistic boundaries.

I spend a good amount of time trying to help soft Republican voters to understand Democratic positions and how they would benefit the nation more than those of GWB. If I have to tell those people, many of whom are sincere evangelical Christians, that there is no room for debate in our party about (at present) their most closely-held beliefs, I might as well hold my breath. And I would hate for that to happen, since even though I was a Kennedy, McCarthy (Eugene), Kennedy, McGovern, Carter and Clinton Democrat while being fervently anti-abortion. Hey, I had four miscarriages as a young wife, and couldn't conceive of any decent person voluntarily ending a pregnancy when I was so desperate to have a child. Age and a broadened experience changed my views.

I am pro-choice now and have been for some years, which is quite a feat when you are an evangelical Christian surrounded by members of the Christian right. But there are more progressive Christians than you may think. Approached properly, there could be even more. Martin and Bobby--and in our time, The Big Dog-- would have known how to do it. They felt close to the God I know, and believed His words meant something important to our souls. They understood that a relationship with the God revealed by Christ doesn't have to translate into exclusionary doctrines or public policies, and should indeed lend itself to empathy and beneficial social action.

So on this special day commemorating the life and work of Martin (we've always called him Martin in our family, we feel so close to him and have raised our children in such a way that he's one of the very few contemporary American heroes that any of us can point to), I can think of nothing much else but the words to the song "Abraham, Martin and John" --

Didn't we love the things they stood for?
Didn't they try to find some peace for you and me?
And we'll be free someday soon, it's gonna be a one-day,
Has anybody seen my old friend Bobby
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walking over that hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.

I am reminded on this occasion of the words of Robert F. Kennedy, who often quoted George Bernard Shaw, ”Some men see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?”

This is why we are Democrats.


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