It Is What We Make It

The Road to Resilience

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about what we might get from our second meeting of Unifying For Democracy.   In the first meeting, we broke up into small groups and came up with what we thought were the main problems facing our democracy.  In the last column, I listed a summary of those problems.  We framed the results of that meeting as questions that we could ask people actually working in the political sphere at our second meeting.  My aforementioned skepticism derived from my perception that the dire state of our democracy has a lot to do with the practice of politics.  I was half expecting evasive answers.  I did expect to get a dose of reality that I would find disappointing, even though I knew it was the way things tend to be.  Don’t get me wrong:   I have the greatest respect and admiration for the people we invited to our meeting.  It’s just that idealism tends to get blunted in the day-to-day struggle of doing politics, and we need real idealism more than ever, now when our challenges are so serious and urgent.

I’m glad that we held this meeting because it re-instilled my faith that there are a lot of good public servants who are still passionate about ideals despite the daily struggle to put them forward.  I’m still skeptical of the state of politics in general, but at least a goodly number working for us here in our district and state are moving in the right direction.   What they lack is a constituency that is ready to make the efforts to clarify their own priorities and the sacrifices that big changes require of us.

One of our guests was our State Senator Sharon Nelson.  She spoke of how frustrated she felt for seven of her eight years in the Senate under a Republican majority that blocked every effort she worked on to pass progressive legislation.  Her constituency is much more than our relatively affluent liberal bubble here on Vashon.  She also represents White Center, where she mentioned that 120 languages are spoken.  It was difficult not to be moved by her description of what it must be like to live in fear of being separated from a family member who is being deported. We couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like if we had to live with that fear.  Her message was to get out of our bubble and think about the lives and issues of those that don’t share our privileged life, including of those that live here on Vashon.

Dylan Cate, who is an organizer for the Washington State Democratic Party, was there to advise us on how we can work on solutions.  I got the impression from him that he and most of the new regime in the State Party are from and responding to the grassroots movement in the party.  A lot of my skepticism with the Democratic Party stems from a clear opposition on the part of high level national Democrats to grassroots support for radical reforms like Medicare for All, a living wage, free college education, and serious spending limits for campaigns.  Dylan gave me the impression that there is a strong and rising opposition to this faction, and the more that each of us gets involved, the greater our influence and the faster it will change.  If you don’t know what Democrats to support, check with Indivisible, or The Working Families Party.  These groups vet and support candidates that support grassroots issues.

Our third guest was Shaun Scott, a field organizer for Pramila Jayapal.  We are very lucky to have such a capable and progressive representative in Congress as Rep. Jayapal.  Shaun is of the same caliber.  He is not what I would think of as a typical political apparatchik.  He is quiet spoken, thoughtful, and knowledgeable.  I feel that both he and Rep. Jayapal are people that will not disappoint us.

The question is:  will we disappoint them?  Don’t think that we could never live in a country under martial law where our voting and workers rights are suspended and white supremacist groups run rampant. We absolutely have to get Democratic control of Congress this fall and maintain Democratic control in the state.  Don’t think it doesn’t make a difference:  don’t think that your vote doesn’t matter!  Solutions are within reach, but it means we all have to get out of our comfort zone and participate.

As far as I know, we need Democratic precinct captains in Dockton, Portage, Burton, Quartermaster, and Tahlequah precincts.  If you live in one of those precincts, give it a try.  Contact Art Chippendale:  If you just want to check out the 34th district:  We will need people to doorbell for both state and congressional candidates.  Dave Reichart is resigning, and we can elect a Democrat there if we work on it.  We can set up carpools to other districts to make it easy and fun.  It won’t happen without you.