This woman is where I was in 1994 after I realized my vote for bill Clinton was very wrong. I continued my recovery from liberalism, I am not sure she will. It is on the Opinion page of todays Star-Telegram.
Posted on Tue, Jul. 26, 2005
It's my party, and I'll sigh if I want to
By Susanna Rodell
The Charleston Gazette
Some years ago, on a long plane flight, I found myself sitting next to a pleasant, middle-aged woman. We got to talking, and it turned out she was a nun.
It also turned out, after some cautious questions (I didn't want to offend her), that she shared many of my own frustrations with her church: its marginalizing of women, its obduracy on the issue of birth control, its elitism.
"Then why do you stay in it?" I asked.
"Well," she said with a laugh, "the church is my family. You don't just get up and leave your family because it's dysfunctional, do you? I choose to stay and try to fix it from within."
I've been thinking about that nun recently as I contemplate the state of the Democratic Party. In West Virginia, as in a lot of other states, I keep running into people who used to be Democrats. Those people put George W. Bush in office. And on my bad days, I think I understand.
One of those bad days was a recent Monday. I arrived at work to find an e-mail from an environmental group. The e-mail's purpose was to alert me about a march on Marsh Fork Elementary School, where a coal company operates a controversial sludge impoundment and plans to construct a loading silo associated with a mountaintop removal site.
My instinct is to sympathize with these folks. I'd be pretty nervous if my kids went to that school. But the first sentence of the e-mail had me recoiling in disgust, as it described "the mountain top removal atrocities surrounding Marsh Fork Elementary School."
Stop me if I'm wrong, but to me that word describes torture, murder and other clearly horrific crimes against humanity. Sludge dams near elementary schools are no joke, but atrocities?
My immediate reaction was to stop reading the e-mail and retreat in disgust. I mentioned it later to a colleague who is, if anything, more sympathetic with these folks than I am. "Oh, yeah, I got that one, too," she said. "I just deleted it right away."
Then came Bush's nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court.
The deluge in my inbox was immediate. "Unacceptable!" the National Organization for Women pronounced. Its Web site immediately ran a tryptich of photos of women who "died because they could not obtain safe and legal abortions." Oh, wow. How constructive.
"I think our best hope is to get this guy out of there," said Carolyn Treiss, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut.
And what, exactly, is the alternative?
Do these people really expect Bush to nominate a Supreme Court candidate who is on the record as supporting Roe vs. Wade? Is there no possibility of having a look at this guy to see who he really is? Is there no understanding of history? Who nominated Earl Warren? Who nominated Sandra Day O'Connor?
And speaking of reality, who is the only Democrat seriously looking like a candidate for 2008? Why, it's Hillary Clinton! The lady with Unelectable tattooed across her forehead!
Unlike most of America, I don't actually hate Hillary. I am prepared to believe she is a good senator. But the fact that anyone's taking her seriously as presidential material just shows how out of touch the Democratic Party is.
If the good ol' boys in the red states guffawed at John Kerry in duck-hunting gear, imagine how they'd react to Mrs. C! Well, I guess she could serve some useful purpose -- like making Kerry look charismatic by comparison.
I love this party. It is my party. Its ideals are my ideals. I am not about to abandon it. However, I can't help feeling that at the moment it has abandoned me. Looking desperately for leadership in a scary world, the Democrats offer me a choice between whackos and cowards.
The whackos and their interest groups send me snide e-mails ridiculing everything Bush in language that I find offensive. They preach exclusively to the choir. I am in that choir, but more and more I find myself skulking out the side door in the middle of the sermon.
The cowards (mostly the ones holding public office) talk a good game about reforming health care but never make a move to take on the insurance industry; huff and puff about the war but never yell loud enough to be accused of the sin of nonsupport of the military (God bless Robert C. Byrd, the lone voice of courage on this one); allow the Republicans to stomp them to death with so-called Christian morality and can't bother to go out and fight them on the merits of Christian compassion.
If the Republicans truly looked any more reasonable than the Dems, I might, in the darkest reaches of my soul, be tempted. But they don't. The Democrats, for better or worse, are my family. Their values are my values.
Forced to choose between the class clowns and the playground bullies, I'll still go for the clowns, even though they annoy me to tears. But it sure would be nice to find some grownups somewhere.
Susanna Rodell is editorial page editor of The Charleston Gazette in West Virginia. [email protected]