WELLS – As a lifelong liberal, increasingly I find myself politically alienated both as a Mainer and an American.

The extremist ultra-right, the both-sides-of-the-mouth independents and the say-no-to-everything Republicans, here and nationally, offer me little I can support.

At the same time, I feel lost and forsaken by a Democratic Party whose slow slide to the right has been marked by fear, uncertainty and outright cowardice.

The working class principles of American liberal thought and action that I was taught as a child, and have practiced since, have largely been prostituted and sold for the highest dollar by too many so-called Democrats.

Those few, including some in Maine, who have tried valiantly to keep to those values, are anomalies, usually overwhelmed, not only by the right-wingers but by growing numbers of the frightened, namby-pamby leaders in their own party,

I keep telling myself, “Well, if you don’t support the Democrats, all those crazies on the other side will get elected — and what then?”

That rationale is pretty thin broth, though, as I watch the party that once cared about the poor, the middle class and the oppressed largely not giving a damn for anyone but themselves, their re-election and their burgeoning lobbyist-funded war chests.

I can understand the anger and frustration of the many decent people who have been led into the tea party here in Maine and elsewhere, even while I oppose its agenda. Unhappily, the space for the growth of that movement was created and enabled by the Democratic Party’s growing desertion of the middle class.

The triangulation of the Clinton years and the Democrats’ subsequent refusal to fight most of the hard fights have led right into the tea pot.

I, too, am angry and frustrated, and feeling my once-sure political identity slipping away. For a number of years now I have sharpened that identity, calling myself a “lunch-bucket” liberal, molded by Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, and Maine’s own Edmund Muskie.

Those leaders cared about working folks, the poor, the minorities and the destitute. They recognized the middle class as the bulwark of America, both morally and fiscally, and governed in the interest of those groups. They believed the better off you are, the more you should give back. And they stuck to their guns.

These days, those Democrats who fight to return to those values are quickly side-tracked or ignored. Many of the Chablis-sippers who lead the Democrats today, care more about their high lifestyles than hungry kids.

Sen. Tom Harkin, the Iowa Democrat, once said that the only thing the American people hate more than a dirty fighter is someone who won’t fight at all.

The fighters, with a few exceptions, these days are on the ultra-right. Are they usually wrong on the issues? In my eyes, sure. Are they right, at least politically, to fight for their issues? Heck, yes.

My late father, a guy who gets smarter as the years flit by, was once asked by a friend why he wouldn’t leave our lower-middle-class home town once he started to make a little more money.

He said he didn’t want to emulate those other Democrats who “once they get $200 in the bank become Republicans and move to a fancy town.”

Let’s face it, too many Democrats are emulating Republicans and already have moved uptown.

Truman warned us that given the choice of a Republican or a Democrat acting like a Republican, the voter will always choose the real thing.

So will this nation soon be ruled in the LePage-Palin-Beck manner? Could be.

Here’s my dilemma: If I don’t know where I fit now, where will I belong then?

 

– Special to The Press Herald