A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.
On a foggy and crisp post-cataclysmic Thursday morning, I lovingly cradled my jet black espresso like a long-lost friend and began perusing social media.
Surely there’d be some sort of a clear sign that our local Demo-Disney-Dixiecratic Party was about to undertake something almost as rare as a Chicago Cubs world championship – namely, a nice, deep, restorative and preferably savage purge of its leadership cadre.
Alas, all I got was this predictably lousy, boilerplate evasion from the reigning kingpin, a guy whose “Boy Wonder” sobriquet has soured so far past its recommended use-by date that downtown alley cats won’t even touch it.
A Message from the District Chair
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, it just isn't in the cards. Last night, we came up short in a number of races.
Despite the result, we're proud of the hard work of our Democratic candidates, volunteers and supporters. You are the true heart and spirit of our party and we deeply appreciate the faith you've shown in us this election cycle. Together, we continue to believe in what Hoosiers can accomplish with a good education, a good-paying job, and stronger communities. Whether standing with workers, improving education, or fighting to ensure equality for all citizens, the focus of our party will remain on issues that make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary Hoosiers.
Today, we are proud to call ourselves Democrats. We want to congratulate last night's winners on both sides of the aisle. We will work with you for the benefit of our communities. In the words of Ted Kennedy, "The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die."
“In a number of races,” or as we might say out here in the real world, damned near all of them.
Our cherished serial collector of appointed committee assignments writes here in the capacity of 9th District Chair, a job that simultaneously confirms and disproves the Peter Principle, although we must assume the stale perfume being sprayed is intended to mask the manure’s vile odor right here in Floyd County.
Lipstick, I have a pig over yonder that you really need to meet -- just step right through this door, into the Magic Kingdom.
Mr. Disney will be right with you.
In Floyd County, purported Democrats (it remains so very hard to tell) managed to win all of three races.
Circuit Court Judge Terry (also known as Terrance, but only during election years) Cody narrowly retained his longtime sinecure, primarily because Keith Henderson’s record of nonchalant ethics is so transparently obvious that even Republicans can’t ignore it.
Brad Striegel kept his county council seat; he’s honest and innocuous, but you’d be hard-pressed to discern left-of-center policy planks comprising the floor of his tree stand.
Then there’s a Knable, newly elected to county council, who apparently has legally changed her first name to “Doctor” in order to be confused with another, more illustrious family member on the opposite side of the aisle.
Apart from these three, everyone else identified as a “Democrat” on the Floyd County ballot was crushed, from Hillary Clinton through “No Candidate Filed” (surveyor). Henderson was a GOP albatross, Striegel a previous candidate with name recognition, and Knable largely aggrandizing the populace entirely on her own.
Can Dickey’s sputtering “machine” take genuine credit for any of them?
Probably not, and as such, the pattern continues. The last county election cycle was in 2014, and it was just as catastrophic for the Democrats as Tuesday. In 2015, the New Albany city council lost its Democratic majority, and 12 percentage points came off Mayor Jeff Gahan’s big 2011 total, bringing him within easy reach of the GOP in 2019, assuming the latter can locate a man or woman with the minimum requirement of a pulse.
At this juncture, let’s turn to Indiana Public Media for a post-mortem of the Democratic Party in statewide terms.
In his concession speech for the governor’s race, Democrat John Gregg pledged his party would, quote - “live to fight again.” To do it, Indiana legislative analyst Ed Feigenbaum says Dems will need to think a little younger.
“You have to appeal to a younger crowd now, in Indiana, and I think Democrats are going to understand this going forward, but whether they can find anything other than re-tread candidates right now is going to be very difficult for them, because they do not have a bench,” Feigenbaum says.
He says it’s not necessarily bad for a candidate be familiar – but he says it’s not ideal that most of the party’s current and presumptive nominees are pushing 60.
That’s instructive, isn't it?
Back here in Floyd County, the only warm body Chairman Dickey could find for State Representative was Steve Bonifer, a 66-year-old teacher. Charitably, Bonifer may have taken one for the team, but have the Democrats already forgotten the lessons of geriatric Bill Cochran’s loss to Ed Clere?
Ironically, the one instance of Dickey scrounging a youthful candidate came in the wrong race and resulted in a gunshot foot.
Dickey rejected lifelong Democrat Dennis Roudenbush for District 3 Commissioner; unlike the untested Gahan toady Bonifer, Roudenbush had at least conducted two previous campaigns for commissioner, and surely would have given Billy Stewart a better run than Josh Williams, Dickey’s handpicked candidate, who annoyed party activists by refusing to campaign door-to-door and introduce himself to the wider community.
Here is documentarian Michael Moore to deliver the conclusion, applicable to the Democratic Party at all levels in this nation:
Take over the Democratic Party and return it to the people. They have failed us miserably … We live in a country where the majority agree with the "liberal" position. We just lack the liberal leadership to make that happen.
There’ll be a little something extra in your pay packet.
By the way, it’s a pink slip, and so very sorry about that exit door’s nasty overbite; the building commissioner should have made your landlord Warren Nash fix it, but well, you know how things like that work around here.
All too well, in fact, and that’s why it’s time for a round of political hari-kari.
Act now, and we’ll give you a plaque somewhere, perhaps on a street tree in the act of being felled.
I gotta get my feet back on the ground
Everybody's got me down
-- Fleetwood Mac
That the perennially ineffectual Dickey should resign as party chairman is obvious to apathetic observers on Jupiter, but let’s not be churlish toward the candidates themselves.
Speaking personally, allow me to convey sincere congratulations to all candidates who stood for elected office in Floyd County, winners and losers alike.
At the local level, in spite of Dickey’s manifest failures, it's less about party affiliation and more about getting things done. I remain convinced that it isn’t an impossible dream, this notion of working together to better this precise spot on the map where we spend most of our lives.
As always, I encourage readers to engage local officeholders. Ask them questions. Most of the time, you'll receive an answer, although perhaps my persistence has rendered me an exception to this rule. You can do very little to change Washington D.C., but you can do quite a lot to change your own neighborhood, so start there.
For many, Wednesday morning proved the granddaddy of all hangovers, but this too shall pass. The electorate has spoken, and while I disagree with the verdict, I accept it, and while we’re at it, stop the Electoral College lamentations, please.
We all knew the rules going in, didn’t we?
Assuming my friends on the Left aren't dispersing to their pre-arranged armed resistance cells to begin the Double Secret Counter Revolution -- nope, didn't think so -- I'd recommend they all begin their mornings these next few days (months?) by taking a good, hard look directly at the faces staring back at them in the mirror. You can bet I am, and also that I understand it's going to take a while for the pieces to fall back into place.
But they will.
Throughout history, the vast majority of human beings have endured far worse, and are doing so as you’re reading this column, but as 'Muricans with short memories, we're entering uncharted waters, so insert a favored cliche here; mine is "nothing good comes easy," or perhaps “no one ever said it would be easy.”
Change always is a grassroots thing, and it happens by engaging other people, listening to them and actually stepping outside your social media silo (the horror) to influence hearts and minds. In fact, ch-ch-change is a two-way street.
HA, gotcha, Irv. Is your lawsuit ready?
Our immediate future is a challenge. It’s also an opportunity. How we react to it is what matters. In the end, I can speak and act only for myself, and the change must begin with me. It's the only way it ever was, and it's the only way it can be.
This process is going to be difficult.
So it goes.
November 3: ON THE AVENUES: It’s our big fat Hibbardendum, and Jeff Gahan is carrying the superintendent across the threshold as Metro United Way tosses rice and One Southern Indiana steals all the liquor.
October 27: ON THE AVENUES: It's NAC's 12th birthday, and the beatings will continue until morale improves.
October 20: ON THE AVENUES: Key events in the New Albanian rebirth, but first, a piccolo of grappa, per favore.
October 13: ON THE AVENUES: They're coming to take me away.