Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Are you one, too?

"I belong to no organized political party. I am a Democrat."

~ Will Rogers

Every one has heard that quote, a little piece of self deprecating humor dating back to the 1930's, to a time not so unlike the present when the country faced economic hard times and the world seemed suddenly small and dangerous. Rogers was a humorist of those times. He used to play up his down-to-earth cowboy persona for comic effect, sharing sardonic observation about politics and society, and the occasional rope trick. With that quip about his own party affiliation Rogers no doubt remarked upon the fact that there were Democrats with different ideas about what to do in the face of challenge.

But remembering Rogers' remark, it's also worth remembering what we managed to accomplish with that "no organized political party." Let's see, there was the small matter of The New Deal... the formation of Social Secuty, the FDIC and SEC, the votes to create a federal minimum wage, guarantee overtime compensation and ban child labor. There was working our way out of the Great Depression and facing world wide armed conflict of a scale never before or since seen.

Not bad for a bunch of disorganized Democrats.

And that was just the Democrats Will Rogers was complaining about. Come to think of it, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and The Voting Rights Act of 1965 were both the products of "no organized party" —of Democratic majorities in Congress and Democratic presidents in the White House. So was The GI Bill, the formation of Medicare and Medicaid and The Fair Housing Act. Then there's the affordable Care Act of 2010.

You see it turns out, there's actually some worthwhile stuff that comes of bringing people with different ideas together. 2012 seems like it might be a really good time to do so again.

The first important step in that process comes soon with us calling on all local Democrats to attend The Holliston Democratic Caucus, where we will elect our community's delegates to the state's Democratic Party Convention, June 2nd in Springfield. There are a total of eight delegate positions to be filled, as well as alternate seats and information about special at large delegate participation we will be sharing.

The date and time for the Caucus is 10 AM, Saturday, February 11th at Holliston Town Hall's Selectmen's Meeting Room. Please arrive early, we need to close the doors at 10:15 to commence voting. All registered Democrats are invited to participate, be they organized or not. The event is handicapped accessible.

Join us.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Consensus... imagine that.

Comments on President Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by one very likely candidate for the U.S. Senate for Massachusetts in 2012:

"I support President Obama's appointment today of Richard Cordray to head the CFPB. I believe he is the right person to lead the agency and help protect consumers from fraud and scams. While I would have strongly preferred that it go through the normal confirmation process, unfortunately the system is completely broken. If we're going to make progress as a nation, both parties in Washington need to work together to end the procedural gridlock and hyper-partisanship."

Comments on the same subject from the other very likely candidate for the U.S. Senate for Massachusetts in 2012:

"The President made every effort to present a candidate for a Senate vote, but he was right not to let Senate Republicans block full implementation of the consumer agency. Senate Republicans will surely complain about the recess appointment, but their refusal to allow an up or down vote on Cordray's nomination is just another example of the political games in Washington that must end."

Notice anything?

I think what's being described here is a... c-c-c-consensus.

Of course around the blogosphere and in the hothouse climate of current day political opinion we're hearing those who take a somewhat different tack on The President's recess appointment of Mr. Cordray. Maybe this citing of these remarks —this consensus— is meant as something of a rebuttal to the howls of indignation and calls for impeachment, but I think it is also interesting on another angle.

Imagine a political campaign, in this day and age, where the rival candidates from opposing political parties actually might have the audacity to agree with one another.

I was having a conversation just this past evening with some politically active friends of mine. Democrats. A couple of us had seen Elizabeth Warren speak in Franklin Monday night and were very excited about the prospect her candidacy. I've seen the candidate's stump speech a couple times now, myself and I still found her compelling. But I don't mean to recount Ms. Warrens's speech with this particular post. What I want to note is that what I most appreciate about Professor Warren's candidacy is the fact that her campaign appears to be about something, about substantive ideas and practical ideals that she seeks to advocate and advance. It is not simply a contest for her I don't think. It is not a campaign about how to defeat Scott Brown.

Warren describes her own career as something made possible by a vision of this country as a place of opportunity. She notes that this was a shared vision that was actually actively enabled and advanced by deliberate public policy through much of the last century. She also has a sense of when and where we started walking back from that notion of expanding opportunity for working people and middle class families. She wants to reverse that trend. She proudly points to the work she did to help found the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a part of that activism. I take heart when I hear Senator Brown giving that work its due respect as well.

Make no mistake, we aren't likely to have an election contest for "the people's seat" in the U.S. Senate that doesn't involve politics in its uglier aspects. We've already seen the PAC funded political ads that paint Professor Warren as a freakish radical anarchist bent on the destruction of free market capitalism —and— we've seen the ads that paint Senator Brown as the darling of crony bankers who intend to rape the environment and smother our children, all the while feathering their fetid nests. But with little scenes like this one here I am trying to applaud, there might be the possibility of another kind of contest, a better debate where at least certain of the tasks and goals of government are agreed upon and we manage a candid constructive conversation about how best to get there.

Imagine that.