COLOR OF CHOICE I am blue. According to the ubiquitous map of Election 2000, I am a blue voter living in the land of red. Not just basic red--- Crimson red. Blood red. Southern red. To put it mildly, things politically are looking dismal for Democrats living below the Mason-Dixon. Democratic Southern discomfort is at an all time high. But is it? Okay. First, the reality. Since Senator Bob Graham of Florida won’t be seeking another term, Katherine”Cruella de Ville” Harris might be bankrolled by the Bushies as the next Senator from Florida. Senators Miller, Hollings, and Edwards - all Democratic Sons of the South- won’t be returning for more terms. Miller, the party’s Benedict Arnold, who has endorsed Bush for 2004, would not have made any difference anyway, but it might be close to impossible for Democrats to find replacements in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Haley “Newt-Gingrich-on-steroids” Barbour, the third biggest lobbiest in Washington, won the governorship of Mississippi while Kentuckians decided their governor should be the Republican ordained minister, Ernie Fletcher. With all that bad news last Tuesday, I decided, by Wednesday, that it was time to do something. It was time to put down my copies of Bushwacked and Hey Dude, Where’s My Country?. It was time to get off the internet, out of the chat rooms, and on the telephone. It was time to stop listening to all the talking heads on CNN, MSNBC, and FOX who said it appears America, because of the South, is becoming a one party country.. It was time to tune out, turn on, and join up. I have faith in Americans and most especially, in my fellow Southerners. I refuse to believe everyone who lives in the South supports Bush’s plan of bringing the world war, without end, by calling for a “war on terror”. Southerners know the “war on poverty” and the “war on drugs”have never worked, so why would a “war on terror”? I don’t believe every voter from the South supports giving Bush a blank check for his defense contract buddies to use in Iraq and supports losing an average of three dozen soldiers a week. Many Southerners were sent to Vietnam and know a quagmire when they see one. And it is hard to believe that everyone in the South supports sending all the manufacturing jobs overseas, privatizing Medicare and Social Security, and bankrupting our economy by running up the country’s largest budget deficit. After all, it is the South who has benefitted most from domestic job growth and Federal government programs. After experiencing a short lived depression, it was time to get with others in this community that know the Bush administration is taking the country down the wrong path. As a daughter of Dixie, it was time to restore my trust and optimism. Good news! Hope for Democrats is so alive and well in Memphis, it is infectious. And I got a big whopping dose at the Dean for Memphis meet-up on Wednesday night. If you come to one of these grass-roots sessions, prepare to be taken out of your “I live in the South and it is a lost cause to Democrats” funk. I attended the gathering after watching the CNN Rock-the-Vote debate that the media built into the “Dean debacle”. It was obvious to most that Howard Dean was saying Democrats need to become the party for everyone, especially Southerners, and most especially, Southerners who have been divided by Republicans on race, gun, and God issues. One might be led to think Dean would have lost his entire local group of support after the drubbing he received regarding his comments, but not only did Dean not fail to lose local support, at least 20 new devotees showed up. The students, teachers, homemakers, doctors, business-owners, lawyers, and FedEx workers I met that night understood exactly what Howard Dean meant. The African-American Ole Miss grad, who knows something about Confederate flag waving, and was new to the group, clearly agreed with what Dr. Dean was suggesting. Plans for victory were flying all over the place. Efforts for organizing were energetically and enthusiatically discussed. Passion was electric. Hope sprung eternal. Historians tell us that political change never comes from the top down. It always comes from the ground up. The coming of a change like bermuda grass in a Memphis summer was being planned at the Dean for America meet-up. And hundreds of these meetings occur every first Wednesday of the month. I learned there is even a Dean for America group in Oxford, Mississippi. Now, that is inspiring! Howard Dean says it is time to take our country back. He says it is time to take back America from political and corporate greed. It is time to take action in our neighborhoods, schools, and businesses. We have been lied to. We have been terrorized but we are also terrorizing. It is time to act, not just on hope, but on what we know to be true - that the direction we are going is the wrong one. Senator John Edwards scolded Howard Dean about his comment regarding voters in the South. He told him the last thing Southerners need is someone coming from somewhere else telling them what to do. Maybe so. But maybe what we really need is hope for change, some fire in the belly, and the desire to be blue.


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