Lawrence A Winans
I was 12 when I attended my first DFL* Bean Feed. I did odd jobs for a couple of weeks to earn the $ 5 that entitled me to a hot dog, beans and a pop at the old Minneapolis Auditorium. President John F Kennedy spoke as a crowd of several thousand sat with paper plates in hand on metal folding chairs. There were no luxury seats nor tables reserved for rich donors. The DFL belonged to the people in those days and it was more than a political party, it was a social club too.
Later on as a member of the Young DFL, we held ice cream socials and helped out the more senior DFLers at annual Corn Feeds which were joint projects of the Party, the AFL-CIO and the Farmers’ Union. As teens , we talked into the late night about things teens talked about — music, dating, school — and politics. Again, I don’t believe politicos understand today how much the Party was more than a political organization, it was our Society, our community.
Not so today. The Party doesn’t belong to the people, it belongs to a handful of technicians, most of who have no more commitment to it than the check it provides. The pros poll and survey, they raise funds and they buy ads, and they plot PR campaigns but they do not socialize, they do not constitute a community, “they” are NOT the People.
I just received my invitation to buy tickets for the upcoming Humphrey-Mondale Dinner. The dinner is the local equivalent of the Jefferson-Jackson Day dinners held elsewhere by Democrats. It is the same type of thing that we did 50 years ago, but it is different. It costs a lot more than $ 5 for hot dogs and beans. General admission will set you back $ 125 for which one will get a crowded table near the exits. Not-so-General admission is ranked from $ 250 up though $ 500, $ 1000, and $ 2500 tickets with the Elite-of-the-Elite buying their seats at $ 5000 PER.
The “People’s” Party is now the Party of the One-Percenters, the Wanna-be’s, the Wheeler-dealers and the Opportunists who can deliver a good con but who lack any meaningful sense of commitment to the commonweal. The Party may still promise Justice but it is more a matter of how much “justice” can you afford.
The Democratic Party isn’t my Party any longer, I can’t afford it.
* “DFL” The DFL is the Minnesota affiliate of the National Democratic Party which was created as the result of a merger of the Democratic Party and the Farmer-Labor Party, hence DFL.