Where Do Democrats Need to Go?

Where Do Democrats Need to Go?

February 22, 2018

 I’ve been a straight ticket Democrat all my life, but I’ve never before cared to do anything for the party. But I’ve gotten desperate. I’m helplessly watching the national nightmare with growing fear for the welfare of the country. . . . Obvious to me that the Republicans have lost their souls to the NRA and other monied lobbyists, and the Democrats have simply lost their way. The TeaPartiers are fervently trying to change our course . . . not in any particular direction, just change the course at any cost, and damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! I hear them, but they confused me for a long time until I finally heard their cries muffled behind all the red flags they’re waving in my face; “It’s the economy, stupid.” And I began to realize that the Democrats have not just lost their way.  We’ve lost their vision. We no longer know where we’re headed. . . . what we want to do for us.

 A French economist, Thomas Piketty, began to wonder about why democracies in Europe and America are unable to do anything about the rapidly growing inequality between the poor and the rich, about the shrinking middle class, about why so many of us are being left behind and hopeless. It stands to reason that in a democracy, where the majority should rule, we should be able to manage that inequality. But we can’t! Why? He did his homework, and pondered the mess, and came up with this understanding. The political parties on the left used to represent the working classes, the blue collars. But they don’t any more. Instead both the Republicans and the Democrats have come to represent the self-interests of the Eastcoast (and Westcoast) monied elites! We Democrats have unbecome who we once were. We’ve lost the vision that guided us.

 Now there are causes for that change. They’re several and they’re simple; you can noodle those out for yourself. (I’ll just point in one direction, the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision.) And we do need to change those causes, but first we need to get back our vision, to see where we want to go. It’s not about getting elected or re-elected. It’s about knowing why we want to get elected in the first place, where we want to lead this country . . . and especially this county.

 Now I understand that in Fairfield County the Republican Party has always held sway. No surprise. I’m a Cincinnati boy, but I married into an established Baltimore family that’s been here for a bunch of generations, so I’ve become somewhat acquainted with the history and folklore. Lancaster was the heart of Fairfield County, and Anchor Hocking was the heart of Lancaster until it was raped and gutted by the Eastcoast money boys. And the bosses of Anchor Hocking had been Republican: it was good for Anchor Hocking and the economy, so good for our livelihoods. So vote Republican. I get that. But Anchor Hocking is gone, the heart of Fairfield County has died, and the economic engine that powered this part of the county is no more. And we’ve lost our vision. Don’t know where we’re going, so no notion of how to get there

 I read Tom Friedman. He’s a smart boy and he makes a lot of sense, so I pay attention to what he says. And he’s suggesting that we’re at the beginning of a shift in how this country works. FDR ushered in the era when the national government was dedicated to solving economic problems. And over the last century we have looked more and more to the federal government to help us find solutions. We looked to Washington to solve the big problems while we handled the little ones. But Friedman is suggesting that the tide has begun to reverse, that the Feds are less and less interested, less and less capable of solving the big problems. It’s more and more going to be up to us, especially here in Fairfield County. No one out there in the big world is more interested than us in solving our problems. Or more capable!

 I’ve been living here just outside Lancaster for eighteen years now, and my wife has seventy-eight years of knowing this county. Together, this county is good folk. But Anchor Hocking is gone and we’ve lost our vision. We’ve got lots of problems, and opioid addiction is just the most obvious of them. And it’s clear that no one else is going to solve our problems for us, to lift us out of the morass we’ve slid into. We’re going to have to do that for ourselves. But to do that we’ve got to regain our vision, our hope for our future, to get some clear picture where we want to take this county. And I think that vision lies at our roots, caring about and taking care of the poor and the blue-collars, and letting the monied boys take care of themselves.

Jack Bowers


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