September Meeting Canceled

Dear Oconee County Democrats,

We have decided to cancel our meeting  for this Tuesday.We want to give everyone the opportunity to attend  the Community Engagement meeting which is scheduled from 6 pm-9 pm on the same evening. We encourage all of you to attend and show continued support for our two school board candidates Fran Thompson and Andrea Wellnitz.

The purpose of their meeting is for community members to provide input as OCS begins its Strategic Planning Process.The set up will be small groups where individuals will have opportunities to discuss and identify internal and external challenges, growth areas, opportunities, and success of the school system. Light refreshments will be served.

Our committee has procured 100 Abrams signs for our county. Angie Eells and Tracey Wyatt will be available at Keba from 5:15 pm to 7:00 pm for those of you who would like to purchase a sign, say hello or  eat a great dinner. Our cost was $3 a sign but we are asking for a $5 donation with the proceeds going back into getting our local candidates elected. We are giving signs away in exchange for one hour of volunteer time. We will have more details for you there.

We believe this event is too important for folks to miss or have to choose. See you next month ON THURSDAY October 18th at 6:30 pm at the Chamber of Commerce. Keep checking our calendar, your emails and the website for everything you need to know about the campaign season and how you can help TURN GA BLUE.

In solidarity,

Angie M Eells

Chair of OCDC

Community Engagement Meeting Sept. 18

Oconee Young Democrats Speak Up

If this doesn’t give you faith in the next generation, I’m not sure what will!  Carter Watson is a student at Oconee High School and he penned the following letter to Angie Eells about an inspiring visit from Jonathan Wallace to OCHS’ Young Democrats Club:

On Wednesday, August 22, 2018, State Representative Jonathan Wallace came to speak to our humble club, the Oconee County Young Democrats. As a member of the club and a fan of Wallace, not just because of his policy positions, but in his success in flipping a gerrymandered Republican district blue, I was excited to meet him. As one of the first people in the class, our club sponsor, Mrs. Jennifer Strickland, sent me to the front office to escort him to our class. There I had the opportunity to shake his hand and to compliment his work on protecting sanctuary cities like Atlanta.

When we got back to the classroom, he started out by talking about reelection. Since we are under 100 days away from election day and in a historically Republican district, Representative Wallace understandably had the campaign in mind. He spoke to us about how important it is for him to bring out the vote by canvasing, a process which he very much enjoys. He told us a story about a woman whom he met whilst canvasing that used to walk to town in the 1940s to listen to FDR’s fireside chats. He told us that this woman has a large family of Democrats, all of which voted for him and are going to vote for him again.

After discussing his reelection, he described what he has been focusing on in the state house. He said that his three top priorities in the state house is to learn as much as he can, establish a reputation, and spread his knowledge on cybersecurity. He discussed how he was unable to kill a bill related to cybersecurity, but he later was able to help convince Governor Deal to veto it. He also described his ongoing efforts to implement an important regulation to rental car companies, which would require them to erase all synced data to cars which people may have accidentally synced. These efforts and more is what his focus is on and why it is important we keep him in office.

One thing that I took to heart was Wallace’s rhetoric when he talked about his opposition in the upcoming election. The kindness and non-hostile approach he took when someone asked him about his opposition or the Republican party as a whole is exactly what we need right now in our government, both at the state and federal levels. The general hostility in this country toward people who have conflicting values or opinions needs to change, and that all begins with elected officials. His honest, kind rhetoric is exactly what we need right now, and we are incredibly lucky to have him representing us.

It was absolutely excellent to have had the privilege to meet and listen to our representative! While he does have a tough reelection ahead, I believe that he can win over the hearts and minds of the people of which he disagrees and go back to the state house again next year.

~ Carter Watson

We couldn’t agree more, Carter!  Hope to see you and your friends on the canvassing trail this fall!

A Message from the OCDC Chair

Hello everyone.

I am sending you this message to thank you for allowing me to represent Oconee County this Saturday at the 2018 Georgia Democratic State Convention as your State Committee member. I’ve never been to a State Convention before so I am looking forward to learning more about how our politics work at the state level. We will take lots of pictures and video to share. Tracey Wyatt and Dan Matthews will both be joining me as our delegate and alternate.

There are several different caucuses that Dan, Tracey and I are able attend. Please post a comment below to let us know which of these are important to you and we will each attempt to attend one and report back.

https://www.georgiademocrat.org/about/caucuses/

I heard we had a great meeting on Tuesday. Thank you to Ann Stoneburner and to everyone who contributed to the meeting.  Please know that as campaign season heats up you will begin to receive more emails regarding our ground game in getting all democrats on the ticket elected. If you are not yet on the email list, please come to an event and know that our meetings always remain open to the media and public.

If you haven’t donated to OCDC or to a candidate, please consider donating to them today. Any amount helps but I challenge you to try to find $50 and donate. Lots of people will be working around the clock, taking off work, making calls, knocking on doors, getting literature printed, hosting fund raisers and all of this costs money. If we want publicly funded elections and to eventually overturn Citizens United then we must publicly fund elections and walk the walk. 🙂

https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ocgadems

With that, I and others are taking off election day. If you are able to request off now to make yourself available please do so. More details about how you can help will be available as we get closer to November.

My next task is to visit the YD at the high schools and get them involved. I’ll be at the Pride Booth and the art auction. Tracey and I have a meeting with a Statewide Coordinator for the Democratic Party of Georgia next week so we will know exactly how they want to use us and what makes the most sense in supporting all candidates down the ballot. Oh, and if you haven’t attend the Social Hour, you are missing out, please join us.

Lastly, if you feel so moved by what you see in the news or you just have some self reflecting thoughts that might inspire, move or impact others in a meaningful way, then write a blog  of 300-500 words and submit to ocgadems+news@gmail.com. It will be reviewed by another person and edited so don’t let a “grammar fear” keep you from letting others know what’s on your mind.

I appreciate all of you.

In solidarity,

Angie M. Eells

Chair, Oconee County Democratic Committee

For Fans of Transparent Politics

For those who are fans of transparency in the political process, you may be interested to know that the Oconee County GOP has informed Lee Becker of Oconee County Observations that he is no longer allowed to record the GOP meetings – or even take notes – until after the General Election on November 6.

According to Dr. Becker, the media ban was delivered to him via personal email by the Oconee County GOP chair, Tammy Gilland.  In that message, Mrs. Gilland stated that the ban applies to all media outlets.  Dr. Becker states in his blog that he has followed up with several media contacts in the area and none have received the same message from the Oconee County GOP.

For those that are not aware of Dr. Becker’s blog, it is a wealth of information about almost anything going on in Oconee County and is a wonderful way to keep informed of local news and community developments.

The Oconee County Democrats would like to take this opportunity to remind all citizens that our meetings are open to the public and we welcome all media coverage.

OCDC meetings are currently held on the third Tuesday of the month at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, but are moving to the third Thursday of the month, beginning October 2018.

 

Oconee Democrat Fashions Have Arrived!

Would you rather dress like a Republican or a Democrat?

Here’s your chance to show your OC Democrat pride, just in time for fall!  Go to the OC Democrat store on LogoSportsWear.com to order T-Shirts, Sweats, even Jackets!

The Oconee County Democrats logo will be printed on high-quality clothing (Hanes, Champion, even Patagonia!) and sent to your home.

Proceeds from the sale will support the Oconee County Democrats and help Democratic candidates in Oconee County win races this fall!

Show your pride!

Letter To The Editor – Oconee Enterprise

See below for a letter published in the August 2, 2018 Oconee Enterprise, written by Oconee Democrats’ own Alice Zwaagstra!

Great job, Alice, we couldn’t agree more!

Congress Needs Courage On Border

A few thoughts on our border/migrant situation.  Let me begin with a quote from a letter to the Enterprise dated July 19, 2018:  from Matthew 25:40, Jesus said truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.  Now, with regard to cruel and inhumane policies at our border, where to begin?  

First, I would expect our president to work with congress to pass meaningful legislation on immigration, not initiate, on his own, poorly thought out measures intended to punish, not ameliorate conditions requiring flight.  We are so fortunate here that we cannot imagine weeks of travel, mostly on foot, privation and danger to escape even worse.  Neither I, nor anyone I know, wants open borders, but we need lawmakers with the intestinal fortitude to lead and pass intelligent laws to deal with immigration.

Second, I would expect government to have adequate personnel and facilities to handle an influx of refugees, not turn them away saying “Sorry. No room at the inn.”  With no home to go to, no well-stocked refrigerator with food and no bed to sleep in, where would anyone go?  

Third, what is our government doing to ease conditions in the countries from which the migrants are coming?  Are we attacking the opioid crisis full force, since the drug trade is responsible for much of the violence and our own country of addicts requires a constant supply?  Or are we doing everything possible to prevent treatment and medical care by gutting the affordable  care act?  Are we sending well-seasoned diplomats to help El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to help quell the violence?  None of these reasonable measures are happening.

So I ask you, among the many positive things we could be doing, what are we accomplishing?  Keep the above reasonable measures in mind when you vote for members of congress this fall, because very few of them are helping.  Trump is not correct on immigration, but he is aided and abetted by those in congress meant to be a check who don’t have the backbone to speak up.

Alice Zwaagstra

Bishop, Georgia

Upcoming Events!

There are a lot of great events coming up in and around Oconee County.  All of these are posted on our Calendar page, so be sure to check them out!

  • August 14:  Oconee County Democratic Committee Social Hour.  5:30-7:00pm at The Pub On Main.  Come meet like-minded Oconee county residents.  There are more of us than you think!
  • August 21:  Oconee County Democratic Committee meeting at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce, 6:30-7:30pm
  • August 28:  Silent Art Auction – Come out and support local artists and your favorite political party at Live Wire Athens.
  • During the Month of August the Oconee County Democrats are collecting hygienic items needed by school-age children right here in Oconee County and delivering them to Oconee Schools.  Information can be found here: HygieneKits.
  • Canvassing, Canvassing, Canvassing!  With just over 3 months until the mid-term elections, and local GOP trying to hold off the #BlueWave, it is vital that we lace up our shoes and hit the streets in support of Debra Gonzalez, Jonathan Wallace, and MariSue Hilliard.  Details on the Calendar page!

Who are the real patriots?

The primaries are over and Democrats across the country are gearing up for the General Election (November 6th!).  With the barrage of political ads we’ve all been subjected to, I’ve been wondering for a while now:

Who are the real patriots these days?  Who is carrying forward the vision of the country’s founders?

The GOP lays claim to the “patriot” title and it seems that they tend to define it as whoever carries the most guns, pays the least taxes, and has the most red, white, and blue t-shirts.  They quote slogans like “America First” and concepts such as “American exceptionalism” readily and question one’s patriotism if they don’t wear an American flag pin on their suit.

View post on imgur.com

Is that patriotism?

The GOP also claims ideological ties to the Founding Fathers, claiming they alone understand and uphold the original intent of the founders of the country.  Too often, I’ve seen Democrats roll over and just let them have it.  After all, the founders were all slave holders and what they did over 200 years ago doesn’t necessarily translate to today’s world.  Right?

As something of a history buff, I have to disagree with the right claiming this affiliation and with the left letting them have it.  There are several examples that illustrate this point, but I’m going to choose one that all of us should recognize from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The bold part was added by me, of course.  If everyone is endowed with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which party is supporting those rights the most in the modern political landscape?

Life?  Do we even have to ask? Those of us on the left favor ideas like universal healthcare while the other side actively works to ensure that only those with the right financial resources have access to life saving medicine.

There is a public debate going on now about whether healthcare is a right or a privilege.  I’d say Thomas Jefferson seems to think it is a right.

In addition, as we were all taught in elementary school, there are three basic human needs:  food, water, and shelter.   While the GOP has taken every possible step to limit access to food & shelter by decreasing funding for benefits programs or erecting stiff requirements, it is the Democratic party that is pushing to protect those lifelines for our fellow citizens in need.  Don’t even get me started on the EPA-led attack on clean water.

No, I never thought I’d type that sentence.

Liberty?  The United States has one of the highest percentage of incarcerated citizens in the world.  Many of these people are serving long sentences for non-violent crimes.  Some are serving time for crimes that aren’t even crimes any longer in some states.  Is that liberty?

Democrats are seeking to overhaul our criminal justice system by keeping dangerous people off the streets but re-thinking the failed “War on Drugs”.  What are the Republicans doing?  Doubling down on efforts to imprison non-violent drug offenders.

Pursuit of Happiness?  This is a broad topic that can mean many things, but the one issue coming to mind to me at the moment is immigration.

Note that the quote above does not say “all Americans”.  It was written at a time when the author was a British subject, but it doesn’t say “all Englishmen” either.  It says “all men” have these unalienable rights.  Everyone.

Study after study shows that immigration has a net positive impact on the economy, even illegal immigration.  The vast majority of immigrants in this country are here to work and live the American Dream.  We Democrats are working to help DACA recipients and provide a path to citizenship that works.  What are the Republicans doing?  Fanning the flames of xenophobia, cancelling DACA, refusing to replace it, and building a wall.

Walls don’t help people exercise their unalienable rights.

So who are the real patriots in today’s political landscape?  Who is carrying on the founding vision?  Is it the group waving the flag while they suppress the minority vote and take away people’s healthcare or is it the group fighting for the principles that the country was founded on?

It’s clear to me.

Primary Wrap-Up

Primary season officially ended at 7pm last night, and the Oconee Democrats would like to take a moment before we all dig into the General Election (November 6th!) to extend our thanks to all candidates for a great race.  Remember, it was only 2 short years ago when Congressman Hice ran unopposed, and we had 3 Democrats in the hunt for his seat this time. We have truly come a long way!

In addition, we Democrats have a lot to be proud of that we had so many women and minorities running for office.  We are truly changing the face of politics for the best!

Of course, the battle is not over, and we have a lot of work to do!  Here is a quick rundown of the general election candidates and their opponents:

Race Democrat Republican
Governor Stacey Abrams Runoff
Lieutenant Governor Sarah Riggs Amico Runoff
Secretary of State John Barrow Runoff
Attorney General Charlie Bailey Chris Carr
Comm. of Agriculture Fred Swann Gary Black
Comm. of Insurance Janice Laws Jim Beck
School Superintendent Runoff Richard Woods
Comm. of Labor Richard Keatley Mark Butler
PSC, District 3 Lindy Miller Chuck Eaton
PSC, District 5 Dawn A. Randolph Tricia Pridemore
US. Rep., District 10 Tabitha Johnson-Greene Jody Hice
State Senator, District 46 Marisue Hilliard Bill Cowsert
State Rep., District 117 Deborah Gonzalez Houston Gaines
State Rep., District 119 Jonathan Wallace Marcus Wiedower

We had some wonderful candidates in the primary season, and it was simply incredible to have so many progressive ideas in the conversation.  It is truly a shame that all candidates can’t win, but in a democracy, that is just how it works. Now is the time for everyone to come together to support our chosen candidates.  Regardless of whether your particular candidate won the nomination, we can all agree that the Democratic nominees are better for our communities than their GOP opponents.

It is worth pointing out that the top state offices will have runoffs on the GOP side, giving Democrats the advantage of campaigning for the General Election (November 6th) NOW while they are still sorting out their candidates.  This is an opportunity we can’t afford to squander!

It may seem like a long time until Election Day (November 6th!), but it will be here before you know it.  All of these fine candidates will be needing your support over the coming months, so please get involved and do what you can to help them succeed!

Did we mention that the General Election is on November 6th?

The Blue Wave

Newsletter Reader Column: The Blue Wave

Eric Gisler

 

It is not just spring and its associated pollen that is in the air these days.  If you are like me, you are getting excited about the 2018 election. There is no doubt that election of “the twitterer in chief” in 2016 has energized the electorate, and not in his favor!  Democrats across the country are mobilizing, getting out the vote and winning historically “red” districts. Yes, friends, there is a blue wave a-comin!

With all of this energy and momentum it is important to keep our “eyes on the prize” and not get too over-confident or just assume it is going to happen.  There is still a long way to go until November and nothing is a sure thing, especially in politics!

Ever since President Obama was elected 10 years ago, the conservative side of the political landscape has run further and further to the right.  If you ask me, nothing could be better for the Democratic Party. This is our opportunity to be the “big tent”.

I am a case in point.  If the 2016 Presidential election had not gone the way it had, I probably wouldn’t have thought about getting involved.  If the subsequent antics of this dangerous and embarrassing administration hadn’t occurred, I probably never would have walked into a Democratic Party meeting last August.  In short, things got to the point where I felt that I had to choose sides, and there are a lot more people out there just like me.

Here in 2018 we should attract independent and moderate Republican voters by allowing the other side to sink themselves.  I personally know people who used to identify as Republicans that did not and will not vote for Trump or anyone like him. For that matter, I personally know people who did vote for Trump in 2016 and have stated that they will not do so again.  The Fox News / Koch brothers strategy has gone too far if you ask me, and I think they will see that come November.

This is all because the Republican party has gone too ideological.  In doing so, they have ceded the middle ground to us and it is important that we welcome those independents and moderate Republicans into our ranks as much as possible.  This is a numbers game, and the numbers are in our favor!

However, we must be cautious, especially here in Oconee.  We should not run left when they run right. Here in Oconee county, the Blue Wave is going to have a lot of opposition.  While Oconee and Clarke are probably a little more open to the coming change, GA-10 has a lot of deep-red rural counties where it’s going to be an uphill battle.  Even though many of us know in our hearts that comprehensive gun control legislation and universal healthcare are no-brainers, they are also non-starters in districts like ours.  That conservative strategy may have gone too far, but it’s been around for a long time, it is well embedded, and it will be difficult to unseat.

We need to embrace common sense, middle of the road candidates that are running on obviously stable positions.  Let the alt-right shoot themselves in the foot and we can welcome those that abandon them when they do. Let’s use this wonderful opportunity to be more inclusive and make changes that are ethical, non-partisan, and long lasting to build the community, state, and country we all want to be a part of.

Break out your sustainably sourced, locally crafted surfboards and your free-range organic sunscreen (SPF 30+ and broad-spectrum!), there is a Blue Wave on the horizon and it’s going to be a great ride!