It’s the homestretch. Forty more days of this nonsense. It’s about time to start thinking how you’ll vote. Don’t worry, we’ll help you by spending a few weeks talking with the various parties here in La Plata County. This week, it’s Jean Walter, chairwoman of the La Plata Democratic Central and Executive Committees.
How long have you been working on behalf of the Democratic Party?I first came aboard as an at-large member of the executive committee back in 1984, and I’ve been involved in some capacity ever since.
What appealed to you about the Democratic Party?I call myself a Kennedy Democrat. I was pretty young when he was assassinated, but nevertheless, it was always clear that he was a people-first candidate. He insisted that we pay attention to how black citizens are treated in this country. I was still hearing about it – about how horrible it was that he called our attention to it – when I was in high school some years later. President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and when he signed it, he said, “We just lost the South for the next half century.” He was right, but he did it anyway, because it was the right thing to do for people. Then, when Title IX came along, it was passed because it was important for the women who’d been held back for so long. But that’s the sort of thing that Democrats have always supported and promulgated. Sheriff [Sean] Smith will tell you that he became a Democrat because he figured out that the people who were acting in such ways, and doing things that helped people were Democrats. That’s when he decided to switch parties. Secretary Clinton, her initiatives, have always helped people. “It Takes A Village,” the book she’s written, and the positions she’s taken, that’s what keeps me a Democrat.
Why’d you get involved?Well, if you don’t vote, don’t crab. Lucy from “Peanuts” said that. You want to cast an informed ballot. There isn’t a shortcut, but people seem to think there is. There really is no excuse for not becoming an informed voter.
How does one become an informed voter?Reading the candidate literature, reading the literature that people write up for the issues and picking the outlook that most closely aligns with your philosophy about what it means to be governed and what your city, county, state and country should look and act like. Ask questions of the candidates and really listen to what they’re saying.
What would you tell young voters who might be voting for the first time?It’s the issues that count. I’m echoing Senator [Bernie] Sanders when I say that. I’ve admired him since he came on the scene and began saying that we needed more than business as usual. Young people who may be voting for the first time who were so excited about Senator Sanders, many of them were so excited that they called me asking about the caucus process and how they could support him there. When the senator didn’t get the nomination, it seemed like that support evaporated overnight. He recently said, “We’re not looking at Trump or Clinton, we’re looking at the needs of the American people. Look at the issues. Don’t get hung up on Trump’s kids or the birther thing. Stay focused on the issues of relevance to your life. I think Clinton is far and away the superior candidate.” In this election, it’s true, all the way down the line. Senator Bennet is far and away the superior candidate. Gail Schwartz is so superior, she makes up her own mind about things, while Scott Tipton follows the party line. McLachlan the same. The local incumbent commissioners are doing their darnedest to make sure that we have a fair, predictable and reliable planning process. They’ve been working hard at it for four years. It’s important that they’re able to stay with it and get it passed.
Do the parties need each other? Why?The concept of a loyal opposition! It’s like in a race. You train harder because you’re going to compete. If you know you’re going to be confronted with the weaknesses in your argument, you shore them up. If you know you face opposition over a particular section of a bill that you want passed, you either find a way to make it palatable or you leave it out. So yes, we need a loyal opposition. What we don’t need is grandstanding and horrifying blanket statements that are discriminatory and, in some cases, violence-inducing. It’s been difficult to conceive of Trump as a loyal opposition. He seems instead to be a firecracker or a loose cannon. He’s not good for the country.
What is so compelling to you about politics?It is how we live. If we re-elect Scott Tipton, we’re looking at keeping in office someone who has supported the selling off our public lands. That’s very short-sighted. It’s not the way I want to live. I want the public lands that I enjoy and I want them to grow for children and grandchildren. That’s important to me. That’s what keeps me working so hard for candidates who align with how I’d like the county, state and country to look.
Cyle Talley doesn’t give two shits about your fantasy football team. Go away. If there’s something you’d like to Get Smart about, email him at: [email protected].