It’s that time of year again. Democrats from across Big Sky Country will be descending on Helena for the Democrats’ annual Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner. Democrats –from political insiders to grassroots organizers – will rub elbows, drink, and be merry. There will be calls to action and impassioned speeches about moving on from a rather rough 2014 cycle.
I would like to take this opportunity to make my own plea to Montana Democrats and I think many readers may agree: focus on working families.
The Montana Democratic Party is a big tent, unlike the Montana GOP, which has two somewhat smaller tents: the TEA tent and the Responsible tent. Montana Democrats generally represent the interests of small business, educators, hunters and anglers, conservationists, social liberals, and working Montanans.
But big business is setting up a table under that tent.
There are rumblings in the Democratic Party. It may not be as divisive or as vocal as the divide in the GOP, but there are rumblings. The Warren-Clinton “divide” is, perhaps, the greatest manifestation of the Democrats’ fork in the road. On one hand you have Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee who is close to Wall Street and will rely heavily on Wall Street to bankroll her campaign. On the other hand you have a Senator like Elizabeth Warren who may or may not run for president, but is getting plenty of attention from within the Democratic Party. Why? Because she is the anti-Wall Street, pro-working class (possible) candidate for president.
While national Democrats may be at a tipping point in becoming another pro-big business party, Montana Democrats can still chart their own course. We always have and we always should. Montana Democrats have consistently bucked national trends and I would urge them to do just that when it comes to getting in bed with Wall Street.
Working families – union families – made this state what it is today. Without unions, we would not have a middle class. Without a middle class you cannot possibly expect there to be such truly grassroots support for things like public access to public lands or good quality education (both of which benefit working families).
The middle class, which is preserved by labor, is what sustains and protects our incredible quality of life here in Montana. If Democrats want to protect the environment, fund education, and ensure basic human rights for all, they need to start by standing up for working families .
The time is now for a real gut check within the Democratic Party – especially here in Montana. Do Democrats follow national trends or stick to their guns and always put working families first? Hopefully we get a clear answer this weekend in Helena.