Thursday, April 24, 2008

Virtual Wisdom vs. Actual Reality .....

The hunt has been on in recent months for what some virtual punditz claim is a mythical creature. I'm not so sure about that.

I'm talking about the 'conservative Democrat.' The phrase came up earlier this year when a local politician announced his candidacy for office. The phrase drew more than a few responses, a substantial number of them to the effect of, "there ain't no such thing as a conservative Democrat."

Me? I'm not so sure. I guess it's because - on this topic, at least - I find virtual wisdom at odds with actual reality. I'm a big fan of actual reality, and I truly believe it's something we should all try to embrace more often and with more enthusiasm. Doing so has led me to a startling and contrary conclusion ..... "yes, Texas, there IS a conservative Democrat." There always has been and there always will be.

True, there aren't nearly as many of them as there used to be. Once upon a time, they ranged across the American landscape by the millions. And they occupied positions of great power. I still remember Philadelphia during the term of 'the Super Cop,' Mayor Frank Rizzo, a no-nonsense, law-and-order, conservative Democrat. Some claim he even considered supporting Republican President Richard Nixon's bid for re-election in 1972, rather than Democratic challenger George McGovern. Though I've never lived in Chicago, I've spoken to one-time residents of the Windy City who share similar stories of their one-time mayor, Richard J. Daley (the Elder Mayor Daley).

Okay, that was then ..... what about now? Oh, yes, they're still out there, still living and working, directing government and making a difference in this world. It's hard to believe, really, that our local band of neo-con Republicans can so quickly and so easily dismiss the existence of the Yellow Dog Democrat.

In the late 90s, I spent five years covering Pecos County YDD's as managing editor and chief reporter for the Fort Stockton Pioneer. A majority of the people in Pecos County and the City of Fort Stockton were conservatives ..... but they were also Democrats. At election time, most local, municipal and county races were won by Democrats, while most state and federal races were won by Republicans. Time and again, the decisions by local governing bodies - dominated by Democrats - reflected conservative values.

And let's not forget another conservative Democrat in West Texas, former Congressman Charlie Stenholm.

Sure, there are plenty of those conservatives who jumped the Democratic ship over the past thirty years, and swam for Republican shores. But there are still those who remain faithful to their conservative values and outlook ..... and remain Democrats.

And sure, it flouts virtual wisdom ..... but actual reality has a way of doing that from time to time.

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