Friday, June 11, 2010

We Aren't Your Field Hands!

Ben Smith writes for Politico.com. On June 8 after Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas won her runoff election with Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter, Smith received a phone call from an un-named White House staff member.

"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official told Smith. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."

That remark demonstrates so much cultural and political insensitivity that it begs for a response. I'm responding as a native Arkansan, an unapologetic Halter supporter, and someone who believes that in a free society people are entitled to choose the people and causes they consider worth supporting.

Bill Halter received almost 48% of the votes in the June 8 runoff election because working people and progressives in Arkansas want a Senator who respects us as equals, not her hired help. Working people and progressives in Arkansas encouraged Halter to run for Senate. We knew it was an uphill fight, and gladly accepted help from around the country.

Workers and progressives are not field hands for Senator Lincoln, the White House, or anyone else. We support candidates whose records and values square with what matters to us. We're concerned about seniors who can't afford their medications. We're concerned about families who can't afford to help their children attend college because government policies helped corporations move jobs out of the country and favored banks over students concerning student loans.

Workers and progressives disagree with politicians who agreed to loan money to Wall Street banks and Detroit auto manufacturers to keep the economy afloat but were unwilling to loan money to working families trying to avoid foreclosure of their homes. We disagree with politicians who realize the need for federally-funded crop insurance for the nation's farmers—a public option that Senator Lincoln has never opposed—but who don't believe that what is good policy for the farm crop should be good policy for the farm workers who produce the crop.

On these and other issues, a Democratic label alone no longer will earn our support. As Jesus said, people are known by their fruit. We supported Halter because Lincoln's voting record doesn't square with our needs and aspirations. That wasn't flushing money down a toilet. It was acting to replace an insensitive politician by supporting someone whose aspirations and values matched our core values.

Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination and the 2008 presidential election because we were willing to "flush" our money and energies this way. Ned Lamont defeated Senator Joe Lieberman for the Democratic primary in 2006 because we were willing to "flush" our money and energies this way. Senator Claire McCaskill was elected to the Senate from Missouri because we were willing to "flush" our money and energies this way.

We didn't toilet our money and energies in those efforts or for Halter. We invested in candidates we embraced. In the Halter instance that investment didn't produce the desired result. Still, it was our investment to make. That's freedom.

If the White House wants to invest its energies more effectively, it shouldn't treat the people who supported Halter's senatorial bid like field hands by talking and acting like plantation owners. That attitude won't help Lincoln win her fall election against Republican Congressman John Boozman, whose campaign coffers will undoubtedly be "flushed" with donations from business tycoons from Arkansas and elsewhere.

Instead, Lincoln and her handlers should ponder how to re-habilitate her in the minds of Arkansas voters who supported Halter. Lincoln can't win the general election without our votes. Treating us like field hands isn't the way to get them.

Thanks to the White House staffer who spoke with Ben Smith, we know what Lincoln's White House cheerleaders think of us. We're not your field hands. If you want to lose Lincoln's seat in the fall, continue talking and acting like we are.

12 comments:

alanleveritt said...

Great column Wendell
Alan Leveritt

guest0987 said...

Right on! I agree totally. Lincoln isn't going to get my vote in November no matter what she says now. She'll say whatever she needs to say to get our votes. By the way, just yesterday after she "wins" Lincoln voted to gut the Clean Air Act - what a great home-gal! I'm not a Democrat, I'm a Progressive and she will not get my vote in November - I'm skipping that race.

argolfer said...

You say you believe in free association, yet you support the labor unions in their plans to take away our right to a secret ballot? The same secret ballot, I might add, that you used when you voted for Bill Halter.

Wendell Griffen said...

My support for Halter wasn't linked to my views on the Employee Free Choice Act. However, I wholeheartedly support the right of workers to choose whether to be represented by a union without being bullied by employers.

The thrust of my blog post is that Lincoln and the Obama administration need the workers and progressives who supported Halter if the Democratic Party is to retain Lincoln's seat in November. That support won't happen so long as Lincoln, Obama, and Democratic functionaries insist on treating the Halter supporters like farm hands.

Lisa Burks, Realtor said...

Thank you Wendell for not only shining the Light of truth on the way the powers that be view the People -and promoting the awareness about their sentiments. When will the people wake up? I believe many of them have, thus the enormous support for Bill Halter.

As for me, I'll be skipping voting in the US Senate race come November. And a few others as well.

Mary Austin Jones said...

The 100,000 vote Halter received has the power to change November's election, Lincoln and the White House know this.
No longer will anyone take our vote for granted again.

Revolutionist said...

No one skip the Senatorial ballot. I say if you can't handle voting Lincoln or Boozman at least press the button for John Grey(Green). If you could get even half of Halters supporters to vote John Grey it would send a message that the Arkansas Democratic Party needs to do more advocating towards the left, even if ever so slightly. It's a better way of letting you're opinion known than voting Boozman(which would be interpreted as "Aw Lincoln's too Liberal, She should have been more conservative!" or not voting "these voters apparently didn't care to vote in the race anyhow"). Clinton and Obama should have stayed out of the race. They endorsed Lincoln with the ol' time philosophy that Normal Democrats can't run here. There might be some truth in that statement but they should have let it play out and seen if maybe Arkansas has changed.

雅馨 said...

It is easier to get than to keep it...................................................................

黃佳伸 said...

Keep in contact. Good Luck..................................................

GlenS_Mielke12嘉偉17 said...

河水永遠是相同的,可是每一剎那又都是新的。.................................................................                           

萱祥 said...

一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼.................................................................

郁雯郁雯 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!............................................................