Progressives still battling 

Your Turn

After reading your Jan. 14 articles ("Demise" and "Dude, where's my candidate?") on progressive politics in El Paso County, I have several thoughts in response.

First, I fear too many disappointed voters may blame Democrats for the failure to get satisfactory policies passed at the local, state and national levels. That is much like blaming a beating victim for his injuries. Democrats have made every effort to carry out the mandate given to them in the last election.

The subversion of that mandate has come from the unrelenting, well-financed, right-wing propaganda explosion across our public airwaves and in the print media. That multibillion-dollar propaganda industry, using its tried and true tactics of delay and confusion, cranked up its efforts to new shrill levels of hysteria with an hour-after-hour, day-after-day, month-after-month barrage of calculated, well-financed outrage.

They cried crocodile tears over budget deficits incurred to repair the economy and people's lives, quickly forgetting the $10 billion a month their party paid out to support a manufactured war in Iraq. They forgot the massive domestic deficits created by their irresponsible tax cuts for the rich. Amnesia seems to be a favorite political tactic of the Republican Machine.

Another brutal tactic has been the Republicans' total, absolute devotion to partisanship. It is obvious the ultimate devotion of state and national Republican politicians is to the direction of their own caucuses, and blazes with the needs and desires of their local constituents. To them what matters is the victory of the Republican Machine, no matter what the cost to the community, state or nation.

Secondly, the Independent asserted that the Democratic Party at the state and local level was demoralized because the magic of the presidential election did not carry forward into immediate policy success. I would point out that with every general election, especially presidential elections, hundreds of citizens get excited to work the national or statewide campaigns, and there is always a letdown after the election.

In 2008, hundreds of progressive voters came into the political arena as local volunteers for the presidential campaign. As usual, most dropped out afterward. But the election left behind an extraordinary nucleus who remained to run the basic fundamental organization that is behind the scenes, unglamorous but so essential to success in upcoming elections. These people are the true core of change in the community, quietly preparing for the future.

Now to my third point. It is hard to find progressives to run for office in this county. We have a lot of very capable, willing citizens who could follow in the outstanding footsteps of Michael Merrifield, John Morse and Dennis Apuan. But look at the barriers working against them. Elective office requires long hours of labor every week for little or no compensation. In addition, it takes tremendous amounts of time, work and money for a Democrat to embark on the campaign trail in this county.

We need elective competition here because unchallenged candidates who are automatically put into elective office too often turn lazy and unresponsive to constituents. Democratic candidates have to run hard for their political survival and therefore have to be strong, agile and responsive in office.

Finally, the primary weakness progressives face in this county is their own inferiority complex. They too often fail to understand their own power. If the last presidential and gubernatorial elections are any indication, almost 40 percent of this county's voters have a strong progressive inclination. We have 85,000-plus registered Democrats in El Paso County. There are tens of thousands more Republicans and unaffiliated voters who have repeatedly shown their willingness to abandon the politics of the Republican Machine and vote for the best candidates regardless of party affiliation. With a sense of power and discipline, progressives have extraordinary potential in this county.

Too often, voters believe the next election is the most important in the history of the human race. In fact, every election is followed by another, and politics inevitably ebb and flow. In the long term, progressives are in a war for the values and soul of our country, state and community.

We must remain steadfast, organized and disciplined because, regardless of any particular election result, we are only beaten if we quit.

John Morris, the El Paso County Democratic chairman for the 2008 election, now leads the party's local candidate development committee.


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