I kid you not, at the recent quarterly meeting of the Arizona Democratic Party (ADP, as the in-crowd affectionately abbreviates it) held in our own fair Kingman, AZ this last weekend (11/20-11-22/09), I was asked to join in singing the following lyrics written by retired music teacher/longtime Dem party member, Del Bohlmeyer to the tune of "Zip-pediddie Doo-Dah:
"Democrats Rising, we've had our say/Washington's changing, what a great day/With Obama in the White House, all the world is praying/ that for eight years he's staying "."
At this time when the national GOP requiring "purity tests" and loyalty oaths, it seemed like a small request, but somehow I balked.
We were in the banquet room at the Hotel Brunswick on a Saturday night after a long day of Democratting for the awards dinner of the League of Democratic Women Voters. It was the capstone event after a day of caucuses and speeches. My wife a teacher turned novice political candidate was about to receive an award and possibly campaign donations. I had walked in with a dark beer on draft and the crowd was taking up the tune.
""He has won the No-bel Peace Prize, Now, we'll all see whether we can live in peace together/ Zip-pi-ty doo-dah, zip-pi-ty ay."
There's young Ron Glassman, a giant of a man with a mile-long resume and potential powerhouse senatorial candidate whose exploratory campaign is trying to net 10,000 AZ contributors before he intends to declare against John McCain; or, at least wait till Jan. 2010 to officially announce his candidacy, less as a Tucson city councilman Glassman would have to resign according to AZ election laws. Glassman's singing with gusto, his handlers gathered around him in color-complimenting outfits and in a pretty fair harmony. Nearer to the door and not to be outdone Attorney General candidate Felecia Rotellini, beneath her busy business woman's scarf, is pumping her arms in rhythm.
And there was my sweet loving wife, Beth Weisser, bravely chasing after the tune. Essentially an independent until the GOP blatantly self identified as an enemy of the state, in particular our education system, Beth had thrown herself into the hornet's nest of AZ statehouse politics to challenge current state senator Ron Gould on everything from haircuts to tax cuts, but mostly on education funding. She's one of a handful of locals I recognize. While not quite the James Carville and Mary Matalin of our time, Beth is a centrist-progressive and I'm from the "Kucinich wasn't even left enough for me" crowd.
In a town and a county that typically skews 65% Republican, my wife is much more in keeping with the majority of local Dems who challenged Bush ideas, and state GOP party ideologues. Though Kingman herself boasts fewer public Democrats than militia chapters, the party faithful from around the state had schlepped to town and filled up the room to reach out to Mohave County. County Dem leaders showed up in their regalia. The award winning Dem volunteer duo of Mitch and Susan Smith were in from down in Fort Mohave. Kingman's mother-son team of Mary McLaughlin and Patrick Gonzales were there through the day though Patrick was elsewhere that night. Plus there were all the other Dem faces from around the state that I'm supposed to be remembering. The lyric sheets were on the table at each placemat in the rows of banquet tables that fill the hall.
And everyone was singing and several were looking at me.
"" He is trying to fix our health care; and the wars around us/the e-con-o-my that hounds us " Democrats Rising, What a Great Day!"
And, in all honesty I did not succeed in joining in the song. Well, not wholly.
Like the majority of people in this city, this county, this state, but not in this country as a whole, I am not generally a Democrat. I am not one to support blatant war criminal thieving would be dictators, so I haven't been able to support the GOP for quite some time. But the Dems have been no bed of roses either. As a true liberal, there is much about the mainstream approach of the Democratic party that I find obstructionist, shortsighted, or even farcical.
That's not to say I haven't given them my time on issues over the decades, however. In fact, shilling for the Democratic Party was the first political thing I ever did. I would have been nine then, it was the eve of the presidential election in 1968. I scrawled "Humphrey-Muskie Are our Man [sic] Nixon-Agnew Garbage Can!" on the street in front of our house in chalk thinking that would make all the difference, which it did not.
Since then it is true, I have championed most every Dem against most every Republican in most every election I've encountered where party mattered. I wrote pro-Clinton anti-Bush material in '92 and pro-Gore anti-Bush material in 2000. I volunteered with the Dems for their presidential campaigns in both '04 and '08, though neither candidate was the one I wanted. It wasn't the first time either. I found Carter ineffective and thought the only thing truly Democrat about Clinton was his libido.
But now, I have taken the whole Dem-love thing to a new level and am actually in bed with a prominent local Democrat--my wife. Still, like George Washington I emphatically oppose political parties, though like the rest of America two hundred and thirty some odd years afterward, I am held their hostage. Washington feared that when political activists drew together to promote their own agenda that that's what they would do and the needs of the people would become secondary to the men's efforts to further themselves. And pretty much since Washington's demise in 1799 we have suffered exactly that fate.
As a younger much more idealistic thirty year old, I was once offered a job to report on the Illinois State Legislature. I lived in the capitol, Springfield, IL, which is definitely a company town, with 35% of the metro workforce employed by some government agency. Reporting on how the legislature made the whole thing work seemed like it was going to be such a cool job. I got into work at 9am that first day and had quit before 3pm.