In the lead up to the November 2016 election, I had an uneasy feeling as I watched TV coverage of the national Democratic Party, all the glitz, the balloons, the festoons, the fancy clothes, all the symbolism of wealth and power. I confess I felt a little manipulated, a little condescended to, by a national Democratic machine divorced from my reality. (If i channel surfed to the Republican scene the unease I felt over the Democrats was quickly replaced with gut-wrenching revulsion.)
In my imagination politics in general was always a dirty, messy, and possibly underhanded endeavor, almost certainly manipulated by big money. My mental “frame,” the image that lit up in my brain at the mention of politics, was an image mapped on that old velvet print wall hanging often seen in basement recreation rooms. You know the one. Usually it was on the wall next to the pool table. It depicts dogs sitting like men around a table playing poker, each wearing a green visor and smoking a cigar, the whole scene in a dimly lit, smoke-filled room. That was the Democratic scene for me. My frame of the Republican poker table had the dogs sporting top hats, tails, and cigars, looking like the plutocrat in Monopoly. In my mind’s eye I didn’t have a place to sit at either table.
Shortly after the Trump minority election, feeling thoroughly desperate, abandoned, and fearful for my country, I started writing this Indivisible Group email to twenty friends I thought might want to commiserate. I did not write as a Democrat. I wrote and continue to write as an independent mind, an “Indivisible.” I am not by nature a “joiner.”
In the last year and a half as an observer and/or participant in the politics of eastern Washington and northern Idaho my mental image, my frame, has changed a lot. I have met dozens of other people who share my same concerns. I have met widows at their doorsteps who confided to me in a whisper that they were Democrats, widows who said hey were afraid to mention politics to their neighbors for fear of a nasty response. I have met Republicans who regret voting for Trump, Republicans who fear for their country in the same way I do. I have had neighbors I thought were probably vehement Republicans make a point to pull me aside and tell me they took heart at my “Repeal Cathy, not the ACA” yard sign.
With my smoke-filled room mental image, imagine my surprise when I showed up at the new digs of the Spokane County Democrats (in the Teamsters Building on the NE corner of Division and Indiana) and found a lot of friendly people, friendly people with my same worries and concerns, friendly people who have been nurturing the local Democratic Party apparatus during dark times in eastern Washington and nationally. There I met a mix of people very familiar with the candidates and races and vote numbers and a lot of folks like myself who for years had overlooked local politics and instead were captivated by the national drama…and had felt helpless, disenfranchised and dismayed.
The local Democratic Party is and will be what we make of it. As individual citizens concerned for the future of our county it is time to throw out that tawdry dogs-playing-poker image of politics, roll up our sleeves, “come out” if you will, talk with our friends and neighbors and use the knowhow and the political scaffold that is the local Democratic Party, use it to get this ship turned around. I can work with this Party and retain my identity. I recognize among the many in this local Party members of my tribe.
Join me tomorrow, Saturday at the Spokane County Democrats at 10:30A-12N to learn more. For details, check out yesterday’s email.
Keep to the high ground,