Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Robin van Ausdall to Laramie County Democrats: "Remember who you are"

We had an extended meeting of the Laramie County Democrats last night at the IBEW Hall in Cheyenne. A reception began at 6. We welcomed the new executive director of the Wyoming Democratic Party, Robin van Ausdall, and the new Wyoming coordinator for Obama for America, Bob Vernon-Kubichek of Laramie.

It's an election year. A biggie. A presidential year in which the Republicans will be throwing every crazy arrow in their quiver at President Obama. They already rounded up all the most extreme candidates they could find to run in the Repub primaries. Today we find out the results from Florida, the state that made me what I am today. The Sunshine State has its own set of nuttiness, which I have neither the time nor inclination to go into here. Back to Wyoming...

To be a Democrat in The Equality State already makes your sanity suspect. We're radically outnumbered, you see, and can't seem to get anyone elected. When we do, as with Dave Freudenthal, he has to campaign and govern like a Republican. So what's the point, right? Van Ausdall puts it simply: "People vote for Democrats because we're right on the issues." Our stances for working people, health care, a living wage, universal equality, education, the environment, etc., put us on the side of the angels.

None of us is advocating (as are Republicans) that Medicaid and Medicare be severely cut or eliminated, Social Security should be privatized, children should work as school janitors, the rich are job creators so it's OK that they pay lower taxes than the middle class, teachers are overpaid and the root of all of our education problems, Obamacare is a socialist plot, there should be no gays in foxholes (or on aircraft carriers or in fighter jets), college liberal arts degrees are a waste of time and money, public workers are bums, fracking chemicals are yummy and are not a hazard to the environment, and moon bases must be established immediately so Luna can become our 51st state.

You can see how rational we are when compared to Republicans. However, once Rush and Fox News commentators filter our message, it's the Democrats who sound like loonies. Van Ausdall encourages Dems to speak out loud and proud and not be afraid to show our true selves. "Remember who you are," she said. "If the only thing people know about Democrats comes from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, of course they're not going to vote for Democrats."

Noting that "Wyoming hasn't always an overwhelmingly Republican state," she urged us to "stand up, push back and connect" with those around us.

The "connect" part is probably the most important. This native of Basin, Wyo. (pop. 1,238) guessed that many of us were known by our Fox-watching neighbors as the first one on the block to bring over a casserole when someone was in need. What if they knew us as those nice Democrats next door who care for their neighbors?

That may seem silly but we are all known as good or bad neighbors. I have good neighbors. I share gardening tips with the Mormons to the north -- and they bring us treats each Christmas. Our neighbor to the south is a public school teacher who likes dogs. Our neighbors to the east are fundamentalist Christians from India -- we play bocce ball with them in the summer. Our neighbors to the west work for the school district and their grandson is a nice kid who is learning how to drive in the jalopy that gramps bought him. Most of them are Republicans or Indies. Whenever I get walk lists for registered Democrats, only one-half of one of those households is on them (just Grandma across the street). They should know my loyalties by now by my yard signs. We still say hey when we meet.

Van Ausdall calls herself a wonk and she may be. She also cares deeply about her home state (as a good Democrat should) and plans to bring some life to the moribund party. You can contact Van Ausdall at robin@wyomingdemocrats.com or by calling her at 307-473-1457. Connect with Robin on Facebook. Check out the Wyoming Democratic Party web site for more info.

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