Saturday over coffee

Over coffee this morning I was checking out my email. Had a couple from Colleen, which made my day ‘cause it means I’m not just blathering out into cyberspace to myself. She pointed me to her post of this morning which led me to comment. Since my own posts have been a bit slow this week I thought I would go ahead and repost my comment here… So here’s the thread.

Jamming at the Jamboree with Jim Webb

It was “standing room only” at Floyd’s Country Store, home of the Friday Night Jamboree, when Democratic Senatorial Candidate Jim Webb and former Governor Mark Warner came to visit on Thursday. By the look of the line of young people waiting outside for their arrival, I figured that a high school field trip was underway. Inside, the turnout reminded me of the one that gathered to hear author Barbara Kingsolver in September.

Reading Colleen’s post led to this comment…

Colleen, I have tried to not let my passion carry me away this election cycle as my wife doesn’t like me screaming at the television when the President speaks. This is another of the reasons I have been light on my posting.

“I’m a registered independent, fiscally conservative who votes Democratic because they represent my interests in labor rights, civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental protections better than the counterparts,” I explained at one point during our back and forth conversations.

How well I relate…I had the “fun” of working at the Republican National Convention here in Houston in 1992 (it was my job, the firm I work for was the general contractor). I remember having the same conversation with some of the volunteers. When I said I was a fiscally conservative social liberal I saw a wash of blank looks spread over the group. Someone even asked what the hell that meant. Seems they all thought the two concepts were diametrically opposed.

Before the convention I had always considered myself an independent. I voted for the man, not the party…blah, blah, blah. I was at the convention that year for many more hours than the delegates. I heard every speech, saw much of the off the floor maneuvering. Had access to many of the hospitality suites of the big donors and the corporate sponsors. And after it was all said and done I walked out and voted my first straight party ticket in my life. What I saw that year was the beginnings of 1994 and the takeover of the Republicans by the religious right. I have to admit it scared me then. It still scares me now.

I think this election is important in so many ways, but mainly it is about stopping the erosion of or constitutional form of government. If the administration manages to keep control of both houses this election, they will probably consolidate the Presidential powers to such an extent that we will never have the chance again to back them up.

Politicians have managed to get caught often enough with their hands in the cookie jar to convince most of the public not to vote. That actually works for the politicians. The lower the vote, the smaller the base needed to mobilize. Gerrymandering accomplishes the same thing. If you are a liberal in a conservative district, you don’t vote because there isn’t any use…Your voice won’t be heard, the same holds true for the conservative in a liberal district.

To my way of thinking this is what has stifled the conversation in America. The lack of an egalitarian process of running elections is killing democracy. The fiction that money equates to “free speech” is an outright attack on democracy. The fiction the corporations are “people” entitled to “free speech” is the main stumbling block to clean politics…And I’ve run on way to long. I apologize for the rant.

So, now that I’ve ranted in two places today, Ya’ll have a great day yourselves…

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