When I was a young man, my grandfather told me that he almost always voted for Democrats. He
said that they were the party that stood with the working people, with unions, for equal rights and for more democracy.
Indeed, as I look back on my life, I can't help but note that when times were good, Democrats were in charge. I would get raises if not chance to move up in the company or move into a better job. My taxes would go down and I had big dreams.
But when I would get laid off, take a pay cut and see my taxes go up, Republicans were in charge.
So when it came to elections, I would take a close look at both candidates, but would usually vote for the Democrat, even though I never joined the party. Their candidates reflected closest to my values and had plans that would make things better for everyone and not just a select few, like the Republicans wanted to do.
But then things started to change.
While there were still good Democrats to support and vote for, they seemed to becoming more scarce. Many Democrats started to forget what made them popular and kept them in office and started top embrace the corporate agenda that the Republicans hold dear.
This retreat from their tradition values escalated after the protests of 2011 ended.
We had an alarmingly large number of Democrats that were willing to sell out their constituents in regards to things like school privatization and food stamps.
We had people like Senator Lena Taylor that not only was feeding at the education profiteers' trough, but feeding into the NRA and going along with concealed carry and the Castle Doctrine.
Most alarming was Chris Abele, whose only value that could be progressive would be his support of marriage equality. But when it came to other traditional Democratic values, Abele was actively opposed to them.
In the past four years, Abele has tried to bust public sector workers twice; sang the praises of Act 10; he actively fought against a living wage; he destroyed representative government in Milwaukee County; he attacked fellow Democrats, including State Senator Chris Larson, County Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and other county supervisors; he donated money to rabid Teapublicans like Dale Kooyenga and Joe Sanfelippo and even held a fundraiser for Deanna Alexander.
Yet the leadership of the Democratic Party - namely Mike Tate - did nothing to hold him accountable. Even worse, they actually honored Abele by having him speak at one of their dinners. Fortunately, the unions were present to hold him accountable even if the party was unwilling to.
It's not like Tate and the Democrats couldn't hold him responsible. After all, President Obama did so when he came to Milwaukee to celebrate Labor Day with us. At the request of the unions and the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, Obama made it clear that Abele was not invited to participate in the day's events.
Things culminated last week when the Democrats got their butts handed to them again - the third time in four years - on Election Day.
Now, Tate was not responsible for Burke's horribly ran campaign or for her decisions to take the wrong stance on some key issues.
But he was responsible for clearing the field of other candidates and taking away any other choices for the people to support. And yes, Tate was pushing for Burke even before she was an officially declared candidate. He met with me while her candidacy was just a rumor and red flags were already popping up.
Obviously, he did not listen to my concerns at the time. Just like he is not listening to the concerns of the people now:
Tate said he would make a decision on running in the new year. He said if he does run again he expects he would win, but if he doesn’t it would have nothing to do with Tuesday’s election.Tate is obviously not telling the truth. Plenty of party members are calling for him to step down, as illustrated in the petition drive Jeff Simpson had already reported on.
“I think that we’ve done a tremendous job of building the party infrastructure,” Tate said.
“I have not had a single party leader or single party member or anyone active in the campaign (say), ‘This wave that swept across 30 states was your fault, you need to step down,’ ” Tate said
And even if they hadn't called for him to step down, there is nothing keeping Tate from doing the right thing on his own initiative, as his counterpart in Ohio did.
The most clear example of how far the Democrats have drifted from their origins is presented that when one considers how Tate led them to yet another bloodbath in the same election that several referendum questions that included raising the minimum wage, expanding health care and lowering costs and getting corporate money out of politics all passed with resounding success.
If the Dems had stuck to what works and improved their messaging, they - and the state in general - wouldn't be in the mess they are in now.
Tate needs to do what's right for his party and for the future by resigning now. His failure to do so only shows that he is more worried about himself and about preserving the party machine instead of the party and its people.
Then, and only then, can they get back to be Democrats instead of Republicrats and get about winning elections and restoring the state.