Skip to comments.Group of Democrats decides to go its own way
Posted on 11/21/2004 6:32:12 PM PST by ClintonBeGone
GRAND RAPIDS -- Mark DeHaan remembers a letter from a voter saying she could never support him because his party was pro-choice. That frustrated DeHaan, who was running for Kent County treasurer as a anti-abortion Democrat.
Now, he supports a group being formed within the Kent County Democratic Party with a goal of expanding the party's reach to non-traditional Democratic voters.
"This type of organization could get more of a message out that there are more pro-life Democrats, get different ideas out there, project a different image," said DeHaan, who is on the party's executive committee. "This club could be a good chance to draw in additional members who may feel left out."
Reaching out to anti-abortion Democrats would be just one of numerous strategies this nascent group, named the Grand Rapids Democratic Club, could pursue. But the chief outcome would be to loosen the UAW's grip on political power within the county party.
The club would develop its own approaches to fund-raising, candidate recruitment and party-building activities as the party heads into the 2006 election cycle, supporters say. It's all being done with the grudging approval of the party's labor leaders.
Underlying the move is a growing tension between labor activists and non-labor Democrats, who want more say in how elections are run.
"We have to get out because we want a voice, but can't do so internally because the UAW wants to make sure the Kent County party is walking in step with them," said Bill Harris, a member of the party's executive committee who supports the club.
The UAW dominates the Kent County Party executive committee, with three of the five top party officers coming from its ranks. Of the 33 candidates put forth by the party this year, 21 were from the UAW. And about two-thirds of its 99-member executive committee is from the UAW.
Sue Levy, the party treasurer, who appears in line to become the next party chairwoman, makes no apologies for UAW involvement.
"We encourage our members to participate, and hopefully we do a good job," said Levy, who is the political director with the UAW's Region 1-D office in Grand Rapids. "But I don't think the numbers alone are enough to force an agenda. Our strength comes with working with the community. We all fight for the same cause."
That was the case when the party ran a successful, highly energized campaign in Grand Rapids, in which the unifying force of trying to defeat President Bush overrode any problems in the party. John Kerry's West Michigan coordinated campaign -- which mixed party leaders and non-party volunteers -- delivered Grand Rapids with a 54-to-46 percent vote, en route to Kerry's 3-point win statewide. Four years ago, Democrat Al Gore beat Bush in Grand Rapids by 4 points.
The split worries Levy.
"I'm afraid if you go to club meetings, you won't come to party meetings," she said. "My frustration is with the dissension, the emotional issues people try to tee things up with."
Ida DeHaas, the 3rd Congressional District chairwoman, longtime party executive board member and UAW retiree, said "it hurts a little" that the goodwill built during the campaign, when a roster of supporters grew to 7,000, might dissolve with the disaffection of a small group.
"We've accomplished great things and all of a sudden, we'll break up into little groups?" she said. "You don't accomplish things with little groups. This year was the first time in a long time the community as a whole came together and functioned as a group and did very well."
The tensions mirror the internal struggles within the national Democratic Party in the aftermath of Kerry's loss to Bush. Many Democrats are urging party leaders to be more sensitive to voters' religious values.
Mostly, though, it's about channeling the energy of a highly diffuse, progressive group -- including anti-war activists, black activists and professionals, said Harry Kooyman, an executive board member who supports the club.
"I ran into hundreds of people with viewpoints different from the union worker who might be interested in bargaining rights and worker rights," Kooyman said. "That doesn't mean they are in disagreement with labor, they are just in a different place."
Harris said the function of the new group is not to compete with or undercut the party, but to find a way to "motivate the unorganized."
"There's a great number of people not in the unions who don't work in these workplaces, who work as real estate agents, work for corporations, who want to participate," he said. "It's strategically important to embrace these people."
This will go nowhere. Democrats are never permitted to speak before any national meeting if they advocate life or criticize the abortion industry.
As repulsive as that party is, you have to say that's a pretty significant accomplishment.
It's all about finding new and more convincing ways to lie.
I agree. 'Der is no other sssssside eff you are a democrat.' I'm amazed at how the UAW dominates the party at all levels. Kill the unions and you kill the party.
That's what I was thinking when I made my comment. Even if you claim to be pro-life, in the end, as a democrat, you still stand for all the other repulsive things that party does.
And, in the end, they'll be crushed.
The party machinery and the UAW will see to it.
Unless they switch party affiliation or openly endorse a Republican (like Zell Miller, Ed Koch and a few others did), they're still 'Rats. Most leftists won't vote for a pro-abortion Republican, I don't see any reason to vote for a pro-live Democrat.
This may be also part of the effort to fool voters that the democrats have moral values.
One night after a non UAW meeting
Union thug says "You want more say about how to run things?"
"How about a whack in the knee cap to gave you more say"
I hope this guy has good insurance and takes the train instead of the plane.
And don't these fools know that democrats are not, under any circumstance, allowed to believe that an unborn baby is anything other than a mass of non-living tissue?
My memories of Grand Rapids is there seemed to be a church on every block.
DINOs are doomed to extinction.
This may be also part of the effort to fool voters that the democrats have moral values.
Yeah, and trying to run a typical extremist like Billary Clinton is THE LAST THING THEY NEED TO DO but since I am hoping for their self-destruction, they should run her.
A hard Marxist in reality, she will change to every color, shed a million skins like a snake, tell every lie from the Dem playbook and beyond, and still never change the FACT about what she and her party really are.
I think its too late for them barring a complete replacement of the Dem leadership in the DNC and the Congress. They haven't figured out that the United States is not A COMMUNIST NOR A SOCIALIST COUNTRY. That stupidity has cost them two elections....hopefully they will fade into leftist obscurity.
How did they pull that off? I though Grand Rapids was the right-wing haven of Michigan?
It's still a city like any other city. It's really the suburbs of the city where most of the human population lives and is strongly GOP.
Hillary is the most devisive politician in America. She will never be President, no matter how many photo-ops they do at the Methodist Church, with Hillary all pretty in pink.
Yes I agree. But what's even more amazing is they got up the margin of victory in four years from Gore +4 in GR to Kerry +8 in GR. And that's with the overall state being closer in the Kerry race than in the Gore race.
The CITY of Grand Rapids is liberal (loaded with Demo-type minority groups), but the suburbs are gonzo conservative by about a 70-30 margin. Overall Kent County (mainly Congressman Vern Ehler's district) is conservative and next-door Ottawa County (mainly Intellignece Committee Congressman Pete Hoekstra's district) is even better.
Ottawa County and Kent County as a whole is the right-wing havens of Michigan(West MI). GR City is treading dem and went for Gore and Granholm.(albeit narrowly) There's a strong peace undercurrent there as well as a lot of RINOs.
The GR Burbs are all 60%+ which counteracts the city.
BTW - I think GR is almost 40% minority as well. (20% Black and Hispanic each).
Unfortunately yes. How do we save them? Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman, and James Trafficant comes to mind. Trafficant is in jail, while Toricelli gets a warning.
Just another - How Can We Fool Them Today - story.
But a good thought none the less! :-)
I'm afraid to say at this point that trying to reform the Democrat Party is like trying to preach the virtues of chastity in a whorehouse.
All those great Dutch-American names. Now I miss my hometown.
And Republicans are!!? How come I don't remember that from the last two Republican conventions?
Yes, you raise a valid point.
The UAW does NOT dominate national Democrats! Clinton, Gore, and Kerry were all barely tolerable to the UAW.
Joe Lieberman supported the war. On Domestic policy, is outrageously left-wing. He told the Hartford Bishop, when he was running against RINO Sen. Weicker that the Bishop was morally obliged to instruct Catholics to vote for him, because he was pro-life. After he got elected, he essentially told the bishop to eat sh!t and die.
Anyone that believes this is on crack. Isn't the UAW part of the AFL-CIO? If so, John Sweeny is calling the shots.
My hometown went for Gore AND Kerry?!?!? Say it isn't so!! I didn't know that. The Grand Rapids I remember was very Conservative, and I miss it a lot. How it must have fallen in recent years. Glad to hear the suburbs are still Conservative - they will have to work on taking back the city as well.
Well either way, even in it's present state, GR still looks like "Conservative Central" when compared to my present place of dwelling - The San Francisco Bay area (spit)!!
I think GR is a victim of it's own success. Back in the 1980's, the city's "niceness" was noted by many from out of the area (possibly too many of those darn "All American City" awards!!), and it began a massive growth spurt - which continues to this day (I get back for occasional visits). A large number of those transplants came from the Detroit metro area - fleeing Detroit to a nicer city, with a lower cost of living, and good "family values". Unfortunately, it seems that many of them have brought their Detroit political values with them. More's the pity. Why can't they just move to Canada instead, like any other self-respecting Bush-hater?!?!
...in the end they're still democrats.
The UAW is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, but, like the Teamsters, does make independent political endorsements. For instance, the UAW and the Teamsters endorsed Rep. Bonior for MI Gov. in 2002, while the NEA (MEA) and AFL-CIO endorsed Granholm. The UAW resented Clinton supporting "Right-to-work" legislation, NAFTA, GATT, and we cool on the details of his national HMO scheme. They held all these things against Gore, plus noted he was the administration pointman on NAFTA against Perot, and his environmental plans would have destoryed the Michigan car industry. Also, they saw Tennessee as stealing auto jobs from Michigan, to non-union outfits, with Gore's support.
To put a more fine point on it (I had to verify this), the UAW left the AFL-CIO in 1967-1968. IN 1982, the UAW rejoined the AFL-CIO, but many locals retained ties only to the national UAW and not to the national AFL-CIO. In 2000, Indiana and Kentucky locals withdrew from the AFL-CIO. In 2001, The AFL-CIO was forced by UAW and Teamsters to support drilling in the ANWR.
I wish them well.
I would vote for a pro-life RAT before I would vote for a pro-abortion Republican.
Gephardt was "pro-life" until he got national ambitions.
You remember him, the former potential speaker of the House?
I admire them taking on the liberal leadership, but in the end they're still democrats.
I don't care if they call themsevlves communists, as long as they try to reduce government and strenghten the military I'll support them. :)
The split worries Levy. "I'm afraid if you go to club meetings, you won't come to party meetings," she said. "My frustration is with the dissension, the emotional issues people try to tee things up with." Ida DeHaas, the 3rd Congressional District chairwoman, longtime party executive board member and UAW retiree, said "it hurts a little" that the goodwill built during the campaign, when a roster of supporters grew to 7,000, might dissolve with the disaffection of a small group.Yeah, a small group of people will cause disunity, y'know, the way that GWB and his Halliburton Skull and Bones neocons have divided this nation, north from south, east from west, black from white from brown, men from women, children from adults, sheep from goats, dead voter turnout from live voter turnout...
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