Nov

2

Embedded with the Dems: Day 1

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Bwog editor Lydia DePillis hitched a ride with the Columbia Democrats this weekend on their annual fall campaign trip. Over the next few days, she’ll be filing dispatches from the trail, wireless permitting.

kentuckyLEXINGTON, Ky.–I’m not sure why I woke up at 5:40 AM this morning, evidently without my alarm.

I catapulted out of bed, swearing loudly, glad that my roommate wasn’t there to be rudely rousted from slumber. I was late for a road trip to help oust a governor.

Still cursing, I threw my electronic implements and their assorted chargers in my half-packed bags and shuffled over to College Walk, where four vans sat idling, full of 43 Democrats munching bagels. They had gathered to spend their election day weekend as Columbia’s historical mandarins had intended: pleading with apathetic Americans to vote Democrat.

I doubt that those who switched fall break from Columbus Day to early November considered political off years. There are almost no competitive elections around the country, and the one the Dems picked—the Kentucky gubernatorial race—is as uncompetitive as they come when both candidates have a pulse. Ernie Fletcher, the state’s first Republican governor in 30 years, has been charged with conspiracy, official misconduct, and political discrimination for one of the most blatant patronage schemes since the heyday of machine politics. His Democratic opponent, Steve Beshear, could be your grandma’s fruitcake and still lead the polls by 23 points.

But a campaign without the specter of defeat—like last year’s trip to Ohio for Sherrod Brown, or the massive mobilization for election 2004—can still be exciting. Kentucky isn’t solidly in either column for 2008, and the Columbia squadron will be shoring up support for whatever Democratic candidate ends up coming through with the nomination. Meanwhile, it’s a free trip to Kentucky—the Beshear campaign is paying for lodging in Lexington, the student councils and governing boards kicked in a few grand for transport, and the Dems covered the rest with their ample and undisclosed (if this year reduced) club allocation.

Over the next four days, I’ll be tagging along with the young activists as they canvass the state for undecideds. Having never been south of the Mason-Dixon line before–besides Washington, DC, which doesn’t really count–I have pretty much no idea what to expect. Fast horses? Abe Lincoln? Waffles and chicken? Stay tuned!

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17 Comments

  1. coogan

    "But a campaign without the specter of defeat—like last year's trip to Ohio for Sherrod Brown, or the massive mobilization for election 2004—can still be exciting"

    Not sure what this means, LBD. I went to the "massive mobilization in 2004" and there most definitely was an awful specter of defeat. After the trip, I cried for a solid two days. A new personal best.

    Better than having a bleeding heart.

    • i think

      she means a campaign where you can actually lose (as in the 04 election and the brown election were competitive--suggesting a correlation with how exciting itd be) doesn't necessarily imply it won't be interesting

      Either way, even though i usually dislike politics on this blog i like this trip and the blogging so far. And even though i'm a repub, Fletcher is a major league douchebag who deserves to be thrown out.

      you cried for two days? sack up ninny

  2. kentuckian  

    ever since I heard they were going to Kentucky, I thought it was dumb -- Ernie Fletcher has never had a chance regardless of who wound up being the Democratic candidate. But the alternate goal that they'll "shore up support" is also kind of silly. Depending on where they go, people could be more annoyed at elite big-city people acting like they know best. (Part of why Anne Northup didn't do so hot in the primary, even against a d-bag like Fletcher.)

  3. lol cat  

    the columbia dems are some righteous motherfuckers! (wait, where are they whenever students try to organize on campus?)

  4. Umm

    Are political groups allowed to fully pay for their travel expenses with Columbia funding?

    Because last I checked all ABC groups (i.e., everyone else) can only pay for 50% of the costs with their allocation (sucks if you're a competitive group that travels). One of the most fucked up bass ackwards rules ever promulgated at this school.

  5. kentucky

    great state, or greatest state?

  6. Virginian

    Never been South of the Mason-Dixon before? Jeez, what is wrong with you people? No wonder elite, big-city liberals don't get the rest of the country. They clearly haven't been there and don't know the culture. It's more than guns and God and lard-based foods, ya know. Sometimes I'm surprised at how naive so many smart people can be.

  7. coogan

    As a native of Lynchburg, Virginia, I must say:

    If you are in the north, you're not from the south.

    For our cyberworld: If you post on Bwog, you're not from the south

  8. Martian  

    As a native of Mars, Mars, I must say:

    If you are on Earth, you're not from Mars.

  9. never been south

    of the mason dixon line? i find that hard to believe, lydia. have you been to washington, dc or maryland ever?

    • Um...

      If you actually kept reading past the phrase “Mason-Dixon line”, you would’ve seen the rest of the sentence, which looked like this:

      “Having never been south of the Mason-Dixon line before--besides Washington, DC, which doesn't really count--I have pretty much no idea what to expect.”

      • cougar  

        I agree with celeste; I find it just as patronizing for certain people posting to say the Dems are being patronizing for going to the South when they have not seen it for themselves. The Dems work within the campaign going on; they don't come down with their own goals and plans on how to make Kentucky more like New York.
        Should people from certain cities never go to other parts of the country for fear of being patronizing? Ridiculous.

  10. Sprinkles

    I can't help but think that trips like these are kind of...patronizing.

    Or just really, really patronizing.

    I'm sure plenty of people in Kentucky resent a bunch of New Yorkers coming down and acting like they know who Kentuckians should vote for. Telling people they never met what they should do, when we have plenty of problems in New York we still haven't addressed. Catch my drift?

    • Anonymous

      In defense of the Dems, they DON'T run the campaign and they aren't being patronizing. Dems try to pick race that is close, both in the polls and in driving distance. Because the campaign is picked a few months before the actual trip so that some actual planning can be going on, of course the numbers can change. The work that the Dems do for campaigns is invaluable to and much appreciated by the campaign they work for. It is not as though the Dems are running the campaign; rather, we're knocking on doors, phone banking, getting materials together, etc. Never does the group completely step in to run the campaign. I you know something about the setup of the trip before criticizing it.

  11. no,  

    but when they do go, they should refrain from making ignorant statements about the area they're campaigning in, familiarize themselves about the issues that are important to the people there (granted, some of them may have and it's not being reported here), and perhaps consider that resources would be better spent in a race that wasn't a gimmee.

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