‘Conservadems’ and Practical Politics

republicratsMy somewhat apolitical son was puzzled.

“She’s a Democrat?” he asked, handing me the candidate flier that came in the mail to our old Kentucky home.

She is, though “Democrat” wasn’t printed anywhere on it. A quintet of bullet points was:

  • 100% Pro-Life
  • 100% Pro-Family
  • 100% Pro-Traditional Marriage
  • 100% Pro-Ten Commandments
  • 100% Pro-Gun Rights

The flier also pictured the candidate, her husband and four kids on one side. The face of a cute blue-eyed baby was on the other. Okay, what baby’s not cute?

Anyway, on the flier, the candidate promises to be “A State Representative We Can Count On to Protect Our Western Kentucky Values,” presumably meaning the five bullets.

The flier reminded me of Blue State lefties who ever lament “ConservaDems” in their midst. I doubt they get candidate mailers from Democrats like the one I got.

If Blue State lefties spent any time in Red States like my native Bluegrass State, they’d know the real deal righty Dems are Red Staters.

And here’s the other real deal: the Republican the “Western Kentucky Values” Democrat will face in the fall makes her look like Bernie Sanders. The GOP hopeful is a union-hating, tea party 100-percenter of the Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand-you persuasion.

Do we Red State lefties – an endangered species — cringe when Democrats pander almost as hard, or just as hard, as Republicans on the social issues? You bet we do.

A lot of us vote for them anyway because the alternative is so much worse.

Democrats with values like mine — I’m 100% Pro-Choice, 100% Pro-Family, gay or straight, 100% Pro-Marriage, gay or straight, 100% Pro-Separation of church and state, 100% Pro-Western European style tough gun control laws (and I don’t consider “socialist” a slam) couldn’t get elected dog catcher in my neck of the Kentucky woods. Make that any other Kentucky copse except maybe parts of Louisville or Lexington .

Oh, after getting fliers from “family values” Democrats, I am sorely tempted to say “a pox on both their houses” and go fishing on election day. I don’t relish having to choose between a ConservaDem and an uber-right wing Republican.

But I’ll be at the polls this November and voting for the “Western Kentucky Values” Democrat though not as enthusiastically as I’ll be voting for President Obama.

Meanwhile, go ahead and call me a traitor to my political principles. I call it practicing practical politics. I’m going to keep voting for ConservaDems because there is no alternative. Like ConservaDems in Congress, she will help keep the Democratic majority in our state house of representatives.

From Possum Trot to Pikeville, I wish we had more Democrats like Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio or Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota or Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin. I’d add Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville to that list. But even he couldn’t get elected dog catcher outside “liberal Louisville .”

Don’t get me wrong. Not all Kentucky Democrats and Republicans are tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum. Most Democrats, even the “family values” bunch, are usually right on union issues, which mean a lot to me. I’ve packed a union card in my wallet for a long time.

Tempted as I was to toss the flier in the trash, I looked closely at it. It had a union label. So do her yard signs. That’s not just a sop to us.

She came to our central labor council hall and promised to oppose a right to work law. She said she supports our prevailing wage law. It the GOP won control of the house, Kentucky would one step closer to a right to work law and to the demise of the prevailing wage.

Berry CraigI hear on good authority that she joined the Kentucky Education Association – the Bluegrass State affiliate of the National Education Association – when she got elected to her school board. (A KEA-NEA card keeps my American Federation of Teachers card company in my wallet.)

The Kentucky State AFL-CIO endorsed her. So did KEA.

If voting for her makes me less than a True Believer, so be it. Blue State lefties might scorn her as Republican Lite. In my book, that’s a lot better than Republican full-bodied. Democratic Liberal is my brand, but it’s not on tap where I live.

Berry Craig

Published by the LA Progressive on July 3, 2012
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About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.