Around two months ago I started getting calls from a person who works for the state Democratic Party. He told me they think my state representative has the potential to be vulnerable, because of some hazy rumors of scandal or general bad behavior or corruption that (apparently, allegedly) surround him. Pick one: scandal, general bad behavior or corruption. I’m not sure what the caller was alluding to. It’s an overwhelmingly conservative district, so the idea is to have a Democratic candidate on the ballot ready to exploit the possible implosion of the incumbent.
Well, I gave up on finding a candidate, but another guy didn’t give up, and he found a candidate. I just called the candidate, and he told me why he’s a Democrat and why he’s running.
He’s a Steelworker. He’s been married 32 years and has 4 children. He spent 2 years in the military. He worked 2nd shift his whole life, and only became politically active with the Steelworkers in 2002 when he left the Republican Party because “trickle down wasn’t working”. That’s a direct quote. He’s running now because he thinks this is the “best time” for a Democrat to try, because he acted as a grass roots organizer during the Issue Two campaign and he wants to run on issues important to working people.
I think this is a going to be a lot of fun. Not for him, maybe, for him it’s going to be a lot of work, but certainly for local Democrats.
Because this turn of events is a nice lead-in, and because I was ranting incoherently about it in the comments to mistermix’s post yesterday and have now had some time to think about it, I wanted to address why I get so impatient with broad national theories or studies on politics. I find them reductive and ultimately, narrowing. Me. I do. Understand, I’m not speaking for some larger group here. I have no earthly idea whether this view is shared by anyone else. I suspect it is, but this is not a sweeping statement or a broad indictment.
When I look at “politics”, now or at any other time, I’m looking at what seems to me to a very complex, layered, shifting picture. Maybe I’m wrong about that, and it all can be reduced to a formula, but that isn’t how I see it or approach it. Honestly, if I did see it like that I don’t know that I would bother with it, because if I did see it like that I would eventually decide I probably can’t have any effect on it.
An example of the way I think or look at politics today, December 4, runs something like this: we’ll have President Obama at the top of the ticket, and Sherrod Brown, who ran in ’06 as Middle Class Man, and those two campaigns are going to coordinate, and we’ll have a credible challenger against Latta for the House race, all against the background of the just-completed Issue Two effort, and we’ll have this statehouse race, which could be a really great upset. Oh, and there’s been a steady drumbeat of good news about and around the auto industry coming out of Toledo, so I’m wondering if that helps Democrats running in Ohio. That’s what I think. Today. That’s how I look at it. Sort of a stream of consciousness, and it changes all the time. That’s what’s interesting to me. That’s what keeps me engaged.
So if I read or hear something reductive and final and national, like: “Kay? it’s ALL TRIBALISM”. Or, “Kay, no President since FDR has won the White House with 8.9% unemployment” how that comes across to me is “why bother?”. It sounds like shutting a door. How it sounds to me is that there’s no room to move, there’s no room for the unexpected or intervening events or the influence of a particular candidate or state or local political climate, and those things, the potential for changes at the margins, are the part of “politics” that interest me. The finality (or what I maybe mistakenly perceive as the finality) of sweeping theories or predictions drains all the juice and localness and (appealing!) flat-out weirdness and chaos and unpredictability out of this thing, which is why I find myself yelling “it’s more complicated than that!” in the comments. I want room to move.