Solidarity at the ballot box

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Kentucky State AFL-CIO, acting as the Committee on Political Education, endorsed the Democratic ticket in the Nov. 5 election: Andy Beshear, governor; Jacqueline Coleman, lieutenant governor; Greg Stumbo, attorney general; Heather French Henry, secretary of state; Michael Bowman, treasurer; Sheri Donahue, auditor; and Robert Haley Conway, commissioner of agriculture.   

By MARSHALL WARD

President, Calloway County Retired Teachers Association 

In the world of politics, people must unite behind a cause to be successful. Many historical movements, including the labor movement, have used “solidarity” to rally people. Solidarity is an awareness of shared interests, objectives, standards and sympathies that create a sense of unity – “the ties that bind a people together."

Solidarity can be based on kinship, shared values, similar work, educational and religious training, and lifestyle.

When there is a common enemy to these ties that bind people together, people need to rise up and unify in Solidarity to meet that enemy. The Commonwealth is now under attack from such a common enemy.

The Donald Trump/Matt Bevin Republican Party has adopted an “I don’t care” attitude about issues such as toxic chemicals in our environment and federal research on gun safety. At the same time, the Republicans are for anti-immigrant laws, for irresponsible tariffs and for tax laws that benefit the rich, while the working-class struggles.

Gov. Bevin is cozying up to an enemy, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska (Vladimir Putin's pal ), to launder money for a Kentucky aluminum factory. Additionally, Kentucky’s self-serving politicians like state Rep. Larry Elkins of Murray (where I live), Congressman James Comer and Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell--all Trump Republicans--lack the courage to defend basic freedoms like women’s rights, free speech, a free press and the freedom of all to worship, no matter their faith, or not worship if they desire.

Republicans oppose full funding for our public educational institutions. They portray journalists as “enemies of the people” and support this president’s praise for Kim Jung Un, and the Saudi Arabian prince, all of whom are murderers.

Sadly, many Kentucky voters have jumped on the GOP bandwagon because many of them are single issue voters, a classic "cutting off your nose to spite your face" position.

In 1915, Ralph Chaplin wrote, “Solidarity Forever," which is the unofficial anthem of the labor movement. It is applicable today more than ever:

“It is we who plowed the prairies; Built the cities where they trade;
Dug the mines and built the workshops, Endless miles of railroad laid;
Now we stand outcast and starving, Midst the wonders we have made.”

The Democratic Party of Kentucky needs to stand up to our current common enemy: Matt Bevin and the extreme agenda of the Republican party. Teachers, police officers, firefighters, public servants of all kinds, farmers, factory workers, union members, fast food workers and many other “invisible” workers need our help.

But the turnout for all voters in last Tuesday's primary was embarrassing.

Calloway - Registered Voters: 30,634; Ballots Cast: 4,565; Voter Turnout: 14.90 percent

Kentucky - Registered Voters: 3,421,796; Ballots Cast: 658,979; Voter Turnout: 19.26 percent

Cautionary Tale: In the 2016 Presidential election, the Democratic party did not unite in solidarity until very late in the game. Many Democratic voters stayed home or switched their votes from Bernie Sanders in the primaries to Donald Trump in the general election.

The number of Sanders voters that switched to Trump: Wisconsin: 51,000, Michigan: 47,000 and in Pennsylvania, 116,000.

The Trump win margin: Wisconsin, 22,000; Michigan, 10,000; and Pennsylvania, 44,000 votes.

Today Andy Beshear, Rocky Adkins, and Adam Edelen would be advised to stand in solidarity (Adkins and Edelen pledged their support to Beshear on election night) and ask all the Democratic, Independent, and disillusioned Republicans to vote for the Democratic ticket.

Low voter turnout is not an option.

The Dems need to emphasize the “Big Tent” idea and support affordable health care for all, diversity, fair labor practices, bringing GOOD jobs to KY, protecting the environment, reversing cuts in higher ed, suffocating the charter school idea, expanding voting opportunities and welcoming immigrants.

Democrats with differing views need to talk with each other with open minds and with a willingness to compromise in the face of logic, evidence, and a persuasive argument. Important personal qualities useful in this process of discussion are empathy and humility.

Democrats represent our only hope for Kentucky solidarity. So register and vote the Democratic ticket this fall.