John Gladden Address to the Delegates

John Gladden has steered the Democratic party through some perilous times. He took up the challenge and made us all proud.

His analysis of the current state of politics and the way forward is must reading for every Democrat and Unaffiliated voter in Macon county.

“The executive committee has graciously allowed me a few minutes to talk about my observations and thoughts on where we are and where we need to go.  These are not opinions representing the County Party, but rather a single voter.

It’s no secret that voter registration has changed dramatically over the last decade or so.  It’s not just Democrats, but Republicans also are losing voters to the ranks of the unaffiliated.  It’s not just Macon County, it’s throughout the State and the Country.  The appropriate questions are why has it happened and what to do about it.

The Republicans have been waging psychological warefare on the American public for decades—and they’ve been damn good at it.  They have identified single issues that appeal to enough people in enough targeted areas to win elections.  Whether it’s latent racism (read welfare queens), women’s rights (read baby killers), non-protestant religions (read islamic terrorists), or alternative lifestyles (read bathroom attacks), they’ve hammered those home to targeted voter groups.

To my mind it started in the 1970’s with the Republican ‘southern strategy’ where code words were used to appeal to the lingering racial animosity in the South.    This game plan was worked for decades for Republicans, with more explicit outbursts such as the ‘Willy Horton’ strategy on Michael Dukakis in 1988—replayed with the John Snow race here.  Even Jane Hipps caught some of this.

Newt Gingrich, more than anyone else, is responsible deepening the political divide and general nastiness between the two parties with his ideologically based shutdowns and impeachment of Bill Clinton.  Mitch McConnell declared that his highest legislative priority was to keep Obama from getting reelected.  Trey Gowdy extended the Benghazi hearings to keep the base stirred up.  Then there were the emails.  All explicitly partisan, divisive and having nothing to do with good governance.

Now, they have convinced their voters that rich people and multibillion dollar corporations are victims and deserve massive tax cuts and elimination of regulations.  How can that be?

The Republicans have made these insanities work and the Democrats have not effectively countered.  I see Donald Trump as the logical conclusion of the Republican decades long strategy and tactics. 

I am astounded and disturbed that 30-40 percent of the public still supports Trump and 90 percent of republicans do.  I fail to understand it and find it frightening.   However, I see Trump as a symptom of a much more insidious disease.

Back to the registrations.

What’s notable about the registration shifts is that the major change is in younger voters abandoning the two parties.  To my mind, many voters over 50 or so are locked into their political commitments and voting patterns.  Vote D or vote R—we’re not going to change that except with a few issues like Social Security and Medicare focused on the over 60 voters.

I see the opportunities for Democratic gains in the under 50 voters.  Our proposals and issues are of critical importance to that group of citizens. 

Think about it:

Which party supports affordable, quality public education rather than diverting funds to charter and private schools–Democrats

Which party is responsible for losing our labor and delivery unit and closing rural hospitals by not expanding Medicaid and trying to kill the ACA—Republicans.

Which party tried to protect consumers from predatory lending and credit card practices–Democrats

Which party is responsible for transferring massive wealth to the top 1% and saddling the younger voters with trillions of dollars of additional debt—Republicans.

Which party is trying to prevent lower and middle-income households from bankruptcy due to a pregnancy or medical emergency—Democrats.

The list goes on!

So what do we do?

Our first objective is to attract voters, not registrations.  The latter is a decades long project if it can be done.

We need to figure out how to appeal to the younger voters.  We need to get their attention and get them to care.  This involves both crafting the message and figuring out how to get to them.  Traditional methods just don’t work.  Talk to your children and, for this group your grand children, about what keeps them up at night and how they get their information.  If we’re going to turn this around, we need to know.

A few more comments on the national scene. 

The democrats may be headed for a train-wreck if this primary process is not worked properly.  The field needs to be winnowed quickly.  Do not pay much attention to the national media—that’s how we got Donald trump.  Dig into the records and platforms of the candidates you think are promising.  Make a financial contribution to those campaigns.  One criterion for getting into the debates is to have 65 thousand contributions from 20 states. 

In that group of candidates, we have a good, maybe great, president and an incredible cabinet.  Vote in the primary and ensure that every Dem leaning person you know does the same.  In the 2016 Dem primary only about 2300 ballots were cast with over 6000 registered dems.  You know that some of those votes were by the Unaffiliated. 

BUT, at the end of the day, any democrat will be superior to whoever the republicans put up.  Put aside whatever hurt you may have if your favorite candidate didn’t get the nomination and vote—don’t stay home.

We can send Tillis back to wherever he came from—vote!

Same for Shutdown Mark Meadows—especially if gerrymandering is fixed.

It’s critical to flip the state legislature.  Some of the best opportunities may be in other parts of the state, so consider helping at the State

Personally, I don’t think that we’re going to get much help from Russian Oligarchs, the GRU or Wikileaks.  It’s up to all of us, so let’s get to it!