A friend recently suggested to me that the Democrats who are about to take control of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee bear a certain resemblance to the White Walkers in the HBO series Game of Thrones. If by some fluke you are not familiar with the White Walkers, they are an army of creatures in the series on a relentless mission to destroy the Seven Kingdoms.
Our local Democratic White Walkers have spent the last three years on a ceaseless campaign to convince the public that our elected officials (ironically mostly Democrats) are both cunning schemers and incompetent fools. Logic and consistency have never been strategies used by White Walkers.
Now it appears we may be facing another army of White Walkers in the form of our local Republican Committee. The Committee has new leadership and is attempting to make a comeback, but they seem to be in danger of becoming the mirror image of the Democratic White Walkers by adopting their tactics of disinformation and hyperbole.
Below is a screen shot from the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee Facebook page responding to the resignations by the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee leadership.
The text of their page indulges in over the top accusations such as:
“[The city Democratic Committee]…is being taken over by an extreme far left, socialist group”
“This extreme group clearly does not value the safety of our children and citizens.”
“This socialist group favors raising our taxes…”
“The people of Saratoga Springs need to band together and voice its opposition against city Democrats and their socialist movement…”
The word socialist has to be the most abused word in the English language. Most socialists have trouble defining it or agreeing with other socialists on its meaning. I myself am a self described socialist, but people reading this blog would probably not gather this based on what I usually write about.
While I am sure there are a smattering of other self-described socialists on the Democratic Committee, I can assure the readers of this blog that the following “insurgent” members would never describe themselves as socialists: Ann Bullock, Sarah Burger, Mary Carr, Ralph Burger, Marcey Taylor, B. K. Karamati, Ruth Fein, Holly Schwartz, and Peter McTygue.
I am hardly the person to defend the people who are about to lead the city’s Democratic Committee. In fact I don’t think they would consider it a defense of them for me to argue that they are not part of a “socialist movement” but a group of angry individuals who are heros in their own self created dramas. Their dramas inflate both the danger of those they oppose and the importance of their own role in combating the threat.
So the charge that socialists are taking over the Democratic Committee is simply untrue.
It appears to me that the Republican Committee is trying to adopt President Trump’s national strategy by trying to paint the local Democrats as socialists in order to fire up the Republican base and tarnish the Democrats. Most Democrats are not socialists and today the word does not generate the kind of panic attack the Republican release is meant to engender.
With respect to my Republican friends, I think they are trying to hammer a large square peg into a very small round hole.
In the more than forty years I have lived here, Saratoga Springs has morphed from Republican red into Democratic blue. The city’s registered voters have shifted from Republicans greatly out numbering Democrats to Democrats out numbering Republicans.
But local elections rarely involve the kind of hot button national issues like abortion, combat in the Middle East, or immigration that divide the parties on the state and national levels.
If the Republican Party wants to revive itself in our city they need to avoid mirroring the ruthless and shrill behavior of the Democratic White Walkers. Instead, they need to focus on local, concrete policies that will make this city a better place to live. Making it a better place to live includes improving the political culture by eschewing name calling and contributing to a thoughtful dialogue in the “public square.”
I solicited responses to the Democratic Committee resignations from all the current serving Democratic elected officials along with the Democratic candidates. I also solicited a response from Committee members Shafer Gaston and Ellen Egger-Aimone and Todd Kerner who is the Saratoga County Democratic chair. Regrettably, only six responded.
1. Todd Kerner emailed me declining to comment.
2. Tara Gaston: “As an elected official, I am always focused first and foremost on the needs of my constituents and their representation at the county board.”
“I am grateful to all the Democratic committee members who serve and am confident that the we will find a strong path forward in service of our Democratic values and the best interests of Saratoga Springs. I look forward to working with the committee and its dedicated members as we seek to elect Democrats to continue leading our city forward.”
3. in an article in the Times Union it reports that Patricia Morrison sent a statement to the newspaper stating: “If they feel they are out of line with the voters, I understand giving the Democratic committee the opportunity to change direction,” Morrison said. “It is my hope the new committee leadership will be able to work with all of us to continue to promote Democratic values. Our goal now is to listen and represent all voters in this city, regardless of political affiliation.”
4. Mayor Meg Kelly emailed me the following statement:
“First and foremost, I want to personally thank the members of the Democratic Executive Board, Chairwoman Courtney DeLeonardis, 1stVice Chair Ellen Kiehl, 2nd Vice Chair Jeffrey Partridge, 3rd Vice Chair Kathleen Wilson and Secretary Joanna Zangrando, for their dedicated and passionate service to the Democratic committee. This team has served the City of Saratoga Springs with the utmost Integrity and moral standards.”
“At this time, my candidacy for mayor is not impacted by this leadership shift in the city democratic party.”
“My commitment and platform has always been to do what is right for all citizens of Saratoga Springs and this has not wavered. As we all move forward, it is important to understand that all of us must keep the best interests of the entire city at the forefront. We cannot focus on specific groups that divide us. I am hopeful that we can embrace what we have learned historically to create a cohesive political system that reflects the will of all citizens of Saratoga Springs.”
“Thank you again to the Democratic Executive Board for all of your support and leadership in this remarkable city.”
EE:John, I am not authorized to speak about this issue.
JK: Authorized by whom?
EE: By the resigned chair. I’m not comfortable speaking on the record. Sorry
Peter Martin: “I am very concerned and sorry that many members of the Executive Committee have resigned. Although I have not served on the Committee for several years, I know and respect each of the resigning members. Courtney, Ellen, Jay, Kathy and Joanna have each poured their hearts and souls into the city democratic committee. They have done a great job and deserve a heartfelt thank you from every voter in Saratoga Springs.”
“I strongly disagree with the quote from Mr Obstarczyk in today’s TU. The Democratic Committee has not been taken over by an extreme far-left group and it still does a better job of reflecting the values of our city residents than any alternative.”
Robert Millis for Kendall Hicks:
We all know that they got themselves into a bit of a “pickle” here on this one.
But the resignations showed a certain degree of integrity : the right thing to do systemically is to accept the will of the party’s primary voters, which is in motion. But the resulting candidate from that process is not the one certain folks support and can get behind, personally, however. Hence the perceived need to step aside and let others that are more aligned to her step in and join the effort with full support.
So, in a sense, the system worked.
We’re just disappointed that these folks felt the need to leave the general committee altogether. There should be room , under a Big Tent approach, for all to remain, while maybe putting the more proper people into active campaigning mode. We at the Hicks campaign are sorry to see the party lose some strong human assets. Maybe we can get them back.
But the more interesting aspect to all this is the Republican reaction. As shown but the GOP City Chairman’s announcement today, apparently the local Republicans are now following the national party’s “Trump and Fox News” model of electioneering; which is currently crying “Socialists!” with every breath. Sad,,,
Saratoga is not deep red flyover country. These dogwhistles won’t fly with the citizenry — Dems, Reps and Indies — here in our great city. The gentleman’s comments are not helpful in solving local needs. That’s OK; we will solve them over here.