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Frederick Blue is a concept and plan to rebuild a Democratic Frederick community through media efforts, created by a committed group of young, local party activists. It should launch publicly in July 2006 with a website and branding campaign.
May 17, 2006
by Jack Lynch
I am a supporter of any long term attempt to redraw the boundaries of Frederick elections to a more liberal and enlightened view, but I feel that the need for great caution exists, and even greater perseverance.
In fact, similar great plans for a Frederick paradigm shift have fallen to the reality of local voting and opinions in past incarnations. The civil rights struggle and sixties era locally raised hopes for a liberal watershed during the youthful days of Young and Slater and their compatriots.
Rather than a decade of efforts, it could take twenty years to accomplish such a feat. Likely the National vote will swing well before the local realigns. Twenty-five years ago it was ‘morning’ in America, and today it is a long twilight of weakening of Republicanism through unhappiness with the Iraq war, exponential national debt, the effects of globalization, and a rising identity and patriotic tide for immigrant’s rights.
The Frederick Blue plan acknowledges that the voting numbers tell a story of a still growing Republican majority. I studied the voting in the 2002 Board of County Commissioners races and found little else. The numbers validate some basic ‘common sense’ aspects of the elections in Frederick County.
First, that party trumps policy. That is both the trouble today, and part of the hope for tomorrow. Frederick County is still over-archingly conservative and Republican. As the national mood swings, and particularly if Ehrlich proves a one time fluke that is quickly rebuffed by an overall Democratic state, then we will see some of the limb that Frederick County has swung on break off and fall back to Earth.
Second, that the Democratic City contrasts the Republican County. And therein lies a lever to push a City legislator out to the County races with a great Democratic machine behind them. That is an area of progress that Frederick Blue can bring to fruition. Frederick City is deserving of a proponent on the Board of County Commissioners, and has the voting power, if focused properly, to swing one.
Third, there are significant blocks of core voters here who likely relate to politics in ways outside the internet and written commentary online, so far outside in fact, many relate to the county and politics the same way they did nearly fifty years ago. And a lot of that is built more on seeing and hearing from someone you’ve known locally for a lifetime, or run into at the Frederick Fair, than anything else, media or news wise. In a sense they are worse than the fundamentalists, for they are not even issue oriented, they’re ignorance oriented!
Those of us who read online, and the small shrinking minority that pay any serious political attention to the newspapers, are blind if we assume that the internet today is transforming local politics to a much greater extent than an old bound copy of the Federalist papers in the main branch library. We’re the literate few.
The Frederick Blue plan may too quickly assume that all vile Republicans are rich, religious fundamentalists while the professional newcomer population tends to lean Democratic. Certainly, many are just that, but there also exists a base of rural conservatism that is both anachronistic, and newly exurban.
Fourth: Those young newcomers who buy and live in our average single family home have consciously chosen a lifestyle, and a willingness to commute, that also reflects a basic conservative leaning, family values conservative nature.
They’ve moved here to get away and build family. They’ve known little except Reagan and Bush presidencies, and they’ve not had the hard knocks to understand that social justice issues compel a lot of Democratic governance. The Great Society and War on Poverty fell to the ‘me generation’ seventies, the myth of wealth and bootstrap success eighties, and the cynical conservative mudslinging of the nineties at the national level.
Internationally, we’re all a bunch of rich cowboys with high tech toys. We span the globe with dispassionate technical superiority over weapons, and believe that we can similarly control the natives on the ground. And so the wounds fester and radical elements wage a long term war against our interests with terrorism. That’s the natural outcome of our recent national conservative Republican hubris.
Frederick Blue needs to develop a middle class, middle ground strategy to change Frederick County. It’s the economy, and it’s only working well for the highest wage earners right now, with some frightening, seemingly ignored trends to dispossess the underclass of the poor and immigrant and uninsured. As energy costs carve out the marginal commuting jobs, and the cost of living disperses further the working class and working poor, we’ll see a Frederick County trapped even deeper in its social conundrum of an upper class nomadic overlay, which is crushing out the marginal lifelong natives.
The jobs that sustained the long economic success of the middle are vanishing in the global internet age. And even knowledge workers can often be bought cheaper around the world, following manufacturing and leaving a great American donut hole. We rule militarily and economically on a macro level, but we can’t fill the hole if global forces shut off the pipes. Not only oil, but cotton shirts and cars and computers source from elsewhere. In a global crisis, even dollars will not buy friends and short supply goods.
Democratic environmental liberals need to reconnect with their roots in agrarian spaces. Farming does not only have to be organic to be good. It should not have to be a bankrupt business, and sourced far away, or fill a mere niche market interest to survive and reach our tables. We need to wake up and smell the manure, and acknowledge it’s good. We need to propose a home grown land sustainability effort.
The Frederick Blue plan further points to a media propaganda machine, which locally is radio like the Blaine Young show and website commentary, like The Tentacle. A lot of hogwash passes as intelligent thought in Frederick, because there is no competing voice. One obvious answer to that that has been hinted at, to balance the picture, are a Jan Gardner radio show, should she not continue as a Commissioner, and a lively commentary website by Frederick Blue. These are badly needed.
Another effective tool is simply a voter scorecard on issues voted on by incumbents. A focus on several prominent issue areas, like growth, and an exacting description of sentiments that reveal a philosophy that is contradictory or unacceptable to the greater majority of citizens by our current elected officials. Remember that many of us are not listening well, and we need to be better educated on issues and decisions that affect our future.
Positioning – We need to reengage community values. Our theme must be coming home to the real America. We must redefine the American family to be inclusive and mutually supportive and more international and diverse than at any time since we landed on the ships of competing European empires.
Much of our classicism and wistful Greek democratic elements are not broad enough for what we face today. We are a quilt of many pieces and many colors and languages. We’re more John Smith facing Pocahantos, than King George contrasted against the rabble rousing colonists, they were of the same basic tribal grouping.
A distinctive – simple message. Shared purpose and common integrity. Strength in unity, and weakness and fear mongering otherwise. The dangers of racial and social division. These are our key elements.
But the real action plan is organization and revitalization of the party from the bottom up by a committed group of local activists. Here the earlier Slater and Young examples prove the value of a Frederick Blue plan. The activated young will rise to office and build the networks of future leadership. Friendships and organizations build power blocks and cement loyalties. The blue team needs that right now. Else it surrenders without a good fight.
Our larger themes – Liberty for all. Opportunity. Community. Selling our principles. Standing up for immigrants. We've seen their marches and debated their inclusion. We're getting it wrong if we think we can shut the borders or stem the tide. They're already here and they are an integral part of our community today.
The outcome of the Frederick political scene is in our hands.