Posted: Oct. 18, 2016
JEFFERSON-JACKSON AND THREE WEEKS TO GO
By Celia Cohen
As election seasons go, this one would probably be better if it just went.
Even the Delaware Democrats, as they gathered Monday evening for their traditional Jefferson-Jackson party, acted like they have had enough of it, and these are the folks who live for politics, not to mention they are the ones who are supposed to be winning.
What a foul campaign it has been, festering with ISIS, email, "Access Hollywood," eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.
"There's a lot of Americans who are getting turned off," said Chris Coons, the Democratic senator, during his remarks. "I am so anxious to know that in three weeks we're going to get this right."
Not that the Democrats here should be especially downhearted. They needed two tables at the Jefferson-Jackson, which drew about 300 people to the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 74 Hall in Glasgow, south of Newark, just to seat their leading officeholders and candidates.
At one table it was Jack Markell, the governor, Tom Carper and Chris Coons, the senators, and John Carney, the congressman who is far-and-away the favorite to be the next governor.
At the other table it was Lisa Blunt Rochester, running for congresswoman, Bethany Hall-Long for lieutenant governor, Mike Purzycki for mayor and Matt Meyer for New Castle County executive, all of whom are expected to get elected.
It looked like the grownup and kiddie tables when the relatives come for Thanksgiving.
It was not Thanksgiving, though, and the rigors of campaigning and governing seemed to be seeping into everything and getting the Democrats down.
The politics have not only turned corrosive across the land, but in Legislative Hall in Dover, where the ancient sacred compact of bipartisan lawmaking has broken up, and the Democrats in the majority fault the Republicans for obstructing them and the Republicans in the minority fault the Democrats for rolling over them.
There are those wearying budget shortfalls that never seem to go away. There is the violence, tragic and embarrassing, in Wilmington.
There is the approaching end to the glory days of personally knowing the vice president of the United States of America.
The Democrats did what they could. They summoned Elijah.
That would be Elijah Cummings, the Democratic congressman from Maryland with the name he aptly shares with the prophet, namely, Elijah, who comes in times of distress.
The Democrats called him in to be their keynote speaker, Elijah Cummings like Elijah coming.
Cummings knows what is what. He has been hearing it from the voters.
"They talk about Hillary, how they didn't trust her. They talk about Donald Trump, how they didn't like him," Cumming said.
So what? Cummings, who spoke with the authority of someone whose parents were sharecroppers and forebears were slaves, declared the only way forward is to vote.
"I don't care if you want to vote for the Tea Party or the most conservative person. Even if you tell me you're not going to vote for me, I will defend your right to vote," Cummings said, his voice like Old Testament thunder.
"We don't want to get so caught up in fear that we forget to have hope."
Cummings was not about to get down on politics, down on the country, down on the imperative of searching for common ground. He told a story.
Back when Bill Clinton was the president, he used to host concerts on the White House lawn. Cummings was invited and brought along a couple of his neighbors from Baltimore.
They listened to music from the Temptations and Stevie Wonder and other groups, and then Clinton announced the next performer would be Garth Brooks, and Cummings and his neighbors looked at each other and asked, who is that?
When Brooks came out in his broad cowboy hat, they got up to go.
"I made a mistake. I judged him, based upon the way that he looked," Cummings said. "I looked at him and thought he cannot be for me."
Then Brooks sang, and it was "We Shall Be Free," and Cummings stayed.
"Those words mean so much to me," he said, so much so that he quoted the entire song to close out his speech to the Democrats. Part of it goes:
. . . And when money talks for the very last time
And nobody walks a step behind
When there's only one race, and that's mankind
Then we shall be free
We shall be free
We shall be free
Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith, hold out
We shall be free
If nothing else, the election will be over in three weeks and the voters shall be free.