Mary Duty, Board of Contributors: It’s time for Democrats to quit grieving and get back to work

  • MARY DUTY Board of Contributors
  • January 20, 2017

All right, I know full well President-elect Donald Trump won 306 votes in the almighty Electoral College, Hillary Clinton only 232 votes. And we all know now (unless we’re engaged in yet more conspiracy theories) that Trump garnered 62,979,879 votes or 46.1 percent of the popular vote, while Hillary received 65,844,954 votes or 48.2 percent of the popular vote.

That fact and a few dollars will buy you a cup of coffee.

To mix things up with fellow Democrats, I know, too, Sen. Bernie Sanders identifies himself as an independent. He certainly enlivened conversation in the Democratic Party this past election cycle, but he’s not a Democrat. He’s an independent. He’s a lion. He’s a tireless and crusading voice. But he’s still an independent.

I opposed Richard Nixon with all my heart in 1972. I moved to Washington, D.C., to work on Dec. 31, 1972. I went to North Carolina to visit friends at Chapel Hill on Inauguration Weekend. The festivities held no allure.

I believe many Democrats feel much as Mitt Romney supporters did in our 2012 election, expressing fear and dismay. Looking back on Romney, most Democrats now acknowledge he had a statesman-like quality and was a gentleman. Oh, for those days!

I am a daughter of the land. I grew up on a farm cleared and settled in the early 1880s. That land is still in the family. FDR gave us the New Deal, flood control and electric lights on the farm. We were Democrats and my parents went to their graves as members of the Democratic Party.

Yes, our party witnessed awful moments when discrimination was the order of the day and voter suppression was the name of the game. But in the late 1950s and early ’60s the tables turned and Lyndon Johnson and the Democratic Party led the charge for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. We remain the party that champions fair pay, decent health care, pro-business immigration reforms, open polls and education that is funded adequately and accessible to all children, regardless of race, color or creed.

I am proud to be a fiscally conservative, socially conscious and forward-thinking member of the Democratic Party. I firmly believe people of this nation need to hear different voices. We have Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Green Party folks and independents serving in public office. We run as partisans. But we should govern as non-partisan citizens.

Much work must be done. Our public institutions are being dismantled and sold off to the highest bidders. Public schools that serve the common good are threatened by initiatives with profit margins that clash with their mission. Our rural neighbors feel we have abandoned their concerns. Yet we fight for farmers and ranchers who need clean water and fertile soil to grow food to sustain our nation and the world. Our goal: good jobs, access to health care that does not bankrupt a working family, a free and carefully thought-out education for all our little citizens. These should be goals we can all rally around, regardless of party.

I believe two truisms remain. All politics is local. And the best government is less government. We may disagree with our neighbors on matters of national policy, but we must come together to protect our rural and small-town public schools as well as our inner-city schools. We must work together to protect the purity of underground water sources. These are kitchen-table issues that we should all care about, no matter what label we file one another under.

The easiest way for this nation to crumble is for us to shoot our own wounded. The quickest way to see the United States of America fail is to continue to accentuate our differences and refuse to embrace our common humanity and work toward the common good. We have enemies. Some are foreign powers. But others are ignorance, bigotry and blind hate.

As President-elect Trump becomes President Trump this morning, I will be sitting with a bunch of folks sharing ideas about how to be good citizens. We will have soup, cornbread and sweet tea. We will make it a day of learning and growing. Drawing on my years as a volunteer with Texas PTA and other child-advocacy groups, I will teach folks how to call a member of the “party opposite” and yet be cordial. I will share how to build relationships that matter when we discuss controversial issues.

Wall-building class has been cancelled.

The next four years we must all be vigilant and attentive to policy shifts foreign and domestic that might undermine communities outside the Washington Beltway. The time for panic, grief and paralysis is over. The time to organize in a thoughtful and strategic way is now.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign I told people that no matter what the outcome on Nov. 8, the sun would come up in the morning on Nov. 9 and the rivers would flow. And God would still control the moon and the stars. That is still so for me. And I believe we are all still Americans and our little country still needs you to be a good, thoughtful and caring citizen.

Civic leader, restaurateur and longtime educator Mary Duty chairs the McLennan County Democratic Party. She is holding an Indivisible Guide Workshop and Potluck today at a local library.

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