Actually, we went to two parties in the last two days: A rally in front of Sen. Claire McCaskill’s office in St. Louis on Friday afternoon and a fundraiser ladies’ brunch for the senator on Saturday morning. At one, people standing on the outside looking in chanted slogans through a bullhorn. And at the other, supporters rubbed elbows with the powerful, their voices rising to a loud murmer.
The two groups’ message was the same: Stand up to the people who are waging war on the working and middle classes.
On Friday, about 100 people stood on the sidewalk and traffic median outside Sen. McCaskill’s office in the 5400 block of Delmar Boulevard to urge her to hold the line on funding for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
About half a dozen or more ralliers using wheelchairs filled the sidewalk in front of the office.Those folks as well as the ones able to stand reflected a wide diversity of ages, abilities, races and causes. They held signs calling for no cuts; they chanted such slogans as:
“Ho ho, hey hey — protect the people’s Medicaid”
“Hey hey, ho ho — bill the corporate CEOs”
“Tell me what democracy looks like” — “THIS is what democracy looks like”
And the most popular, a rhythmic rap, “The people (yeah)/Have got a story (yeah)/To tell the whole. wide. world/THIS IS PEOPLE TERR-I-TORY”
Speakers included an African American minister and an Episcopalian priest who noted that Republicans bent on destroying the middle class through budget cuts have said “nothing is sacred” in the budget. To that, the lady preachers noted that “Some things are sacred,” such as children, the disabled, the elderly, people who are hungry or homeless or in need of medical care. The Bible is clear, these women said, that God wants God’s people to share with those in need.
Meanwhile, a group of clergy and activists met inside the office with Sen. McCaskill and her staff. Rabbi Susan Talve came out to the crowd to report on the conversation. “She hears us,” Rabbi Talve said.
Like the clergywomen who began the rally, Talve also quoted scripture, referring to the people following Moses from Egypt to the Promised Land. When they reached the River Jordan, Talve said, Moses sent 12 spies across the river. Ten came back saying it would be impossible to overcome the people occupying the land. Two said, “we can do it!”
“But two wasn’t enough,” Talve said. Moses and the people spent another 38 years wandering in the desert before enough people in the younger generation believed they could successfully enter the Promised Land.
The point is, Talve said, we need to increase the number of people who believe that Progressive policies can win elections. She urged the ralliers to spread the word: “Some things are sacred” and “We can win this.”
Ladies’ Brunch for Claire
When you walk into the Royale, a bar/restaurant on Kingshighway just south of Tower Grove Park, you can tell it’s a gathering spot for Democrats and Progressives by the photos over the bar: Joseph Pulitzer, Harriet Tubman, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Mel Carnahan, among others. The owner is a stalwart supporter of Democrats said Sen. McCaskill in her brief remarks.
More than 100 women and a handful of men gathered at the restaurant for brunch on Saturday, thrown by The Women of St. Louis, which includes a list of female democratic office holders and former office holders. Guests paid $50, $100 or more to attend and to inject cash and encouragement into the senator’s campaign for reelection next year.
Sen. McCaskill arrived at 10:30 a.m., about half an hour after the event began, and worked the room and patio, listening to supporters. Several of them — including this blogger — took her to task for appearing too ready to compromise on important programs, and for allowing the Republicans to dominate the budget discussions with talk of cutting programs for the poor and middle class rather than raising revenue from the rich and ultra rich.
“The Republicans have done us a favor,” McCaskill said. Since last year when the Republicans took advantage of the troubled economy to gain majorities in several statehouses and in the U.S. House of Representatives, “They have taken things too far.”
Republicans took the vote of people who were unemployed and looking for ways to increase jobs, and (in the Missouri General Assembly) tried to abolish child labor laws, or (in the U.S. Congress) tried to defund Planned Parenthood, she said. “I don’t think the voters put them in office to gut Medicare.”
To those of us who want McCaskill to send a stronger Progressive message, McCaskill said compromise was necessary in politics. “No one is going to win by being pure” in ideology.
Democrats are developing a strategy and a message, she said. Expect to hear more about their efforts to end subsidies for oil companies and to raise income taxes on individuals’ “second million.”
“This election is going to be one of the nastiest campaigns in our lifetime,” she said. “You have two choices. You can throw up your hands and complain about the Democrats…. or you can double down and help me win this.”
The key to the election will be the votes of Independents, McCaskill said. But the key to the Independent vote will rest on the energy and commitment of Democrats. “All of us who are Democrats must stay united and quit complaining about each other. We need to realize that what is at stake is much bigger than any single issue.”
She looked around the room and acknowledged supporters who have been with her through many elections, especially the campaign to get to the Senate. “Do not ever think that just because I’ve done this before I can do it without you.
“I need you to put on your walking shoes,” the Senator exhorted. “Put those really high heels back in the closet and save them for the victory party.”
That line got the biggest cheer of the morning.