On Friday, June 17, I got up early to catch a train to get to St. Louis in time to catch the rally to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security outside Senator McCaskill’s St. Louis office, and then go on to the Missouri Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner at the Renaissance Grand in Downtown St. Louis.
Basically, if all the statewides are scheduled to appear somewhere, chances are pretty good that if you look for the table at the back, where the tripods are set up and the hand-held recorders are out on the table, you will find me and assorted other members of the political media — especially my partners here at Show Me Progress. We try very hard to have someone at every event.
Sometimes that is short notice and it frequently sends me scrambling for resources if I haven’t had time to plan ahead, but we get there and we cover it and we archive audio so we can fight back with context and/or accuracy when Democrats are misunderstood — or as happens far to often, deliberately misquoted.
Take Friday night for example — Jo Mannies, who didn’t sit with us lowlife bloggers at a table, but chose to hug the wall just inside the ballroom doors instead — decried Democratic Governor Jay Nixon for lapsing into “partisanship” because he dared say the words “right wing extremists” and call out the nutjobs in the state legislature for what they are during his address Friday night…Even though he wasn’t speaking at a campaign rally, he was speaking to a room full of 500-plus of the most hard-core Democrats in the state, all of whom paid $125 per plate to attend.
When that sort of money is shelled out, red meat is expected, and since the menu was chicken and shrimp, that red meat came from the speakers. And did they ever deliver!
Governor Nixon gave one of the best speeches I have heard him give, and I have been covering him since he was our Attorney General, campaigning for Governor. He is in Jefferson City with the right-wing extremists who want to return us to the era before the New Deal and the Wagner Act, to the cutthroat era of the robber barons and union busting and the systematic disenfranchisement of the “wrong” people who tend to vote the opposite way that the rich and powerful do.
Nixon appeared before a crowd of Democrats just hours after vetoing the right wing extremists’ latest attempt to disenfranchise anywhere between 170-240,000 Missouri voters. hell, yeah, he was going to deliver some partisanship and get these people — you know, the folks who open their wallets and man the phones and go door to door and basically and keep the Missouri Democratic Party functioning — fired up!
I was also impressed with Claire McCaskill’s more pugnacious tone. Of course, the fact that 200 people were outside her office in 90-degree heat with 190% humidity for over an hour “encouraging” her to stand up for the safety net didn’t discourage her any from kicking it up a notch or two, either. When she said that teachers and police officers and firemen aren’t the problem, and that “their pensions sure as HELL aren’t the problem!” the crowd was on it’s feet and she had to pause before going on and wait for them to take their seats.
It’s not this guy’s fault we’re in this mess.
What I heard from the speakers who addressed the rank and file who, while in their finery on Friday night, in the coming months will be in jeans and sneakers canvassing neighborhoods, and manning phone banks, and working for candidates and raising money and donating money, and time, and talent — was that they are going to work as hard as we are and they will fight for us.
Jay Nixon fought for us on Thursday when he addressed boys state and told them something I hope they take with them the rest of their lives. He pointed out to them that they were going to be okay no matter what. Their tickets are punched, it’s all in front of them and it’s all theirs if they don’t piss it away. But, he told them, “you have to have compassion. You don’t make yourself any taller by cutting off the heads of those around you.”
Then he fought for us on Friday when he vetoed the odious Voter ID bill.
I hope he is just getting started and spends a little of his political capital to fight back in the rural areas where they are a natural Democratic constituency. They have potable water, electricity, gas, roads, mail delivery, phone service, internet access, hospitals and doctors and nurses to work in them, Social Security, Medicare, S-CHIP and Medicaid to access them and they can get drugs from a pharmacy that is regulated so they are sure they are getting what the doctor prescribed and not baking soda because Democrats didn’t just make those things happen — Democrats made those things possible.
The thesis of one of the first posts I wrote when we launched Show Me Progress was me arguing that the Missouri Democratic Party needs a concerted 114 County Strategy, that we need to get offices back on the square in Albany and Bethany and Princeton and Trenton and Gallatin and Grant City and all the other small counties that lost their long-term Democratic Senators and Representatives in 2000 when term limits took over because — lets face it — term limits caught us unawares. We were content with the “old bulls” like Harold Caskey running things for decades on end. There was comity and things got done and worked pretty well. And in those rural areas, no new talent was being recruited and groomed by the Democrats, but the republicans were doing just that on school boards and municipal boards and county legislatures. Then they sprung term limits and they had their candidates ready to go.
And the state party responded by…abdicating the rural areas to the wingers.
I hope some of that pugnacious talk I heard Friday night means that the days of that nonsense are over. Instead, I hope it gets repeated in every county seat of all 114 counties by every statewide official on the 08 ballot at least twice between now and then, and I hope they have an aggressive social media presence, because every one of my country cousins uses Facebook five times as much as I do, and I use it every day.
There are votes to be had outstate — but only if you go and ask for them and talk to them about the issues that matter to them. And for god’s sake, they deserve better than the likes of Casey freakin’ Guernsey.