Democrats aren’t the most popular folks in Marshall County these days. Local elections, generally speaking, see about 80 percent of the vote go for Republicans and 20 percent to the Democrats. The political website Daily Kos declared the 4th Congressional District – which includes Marshall County – as the “Trumpiest district” in America.
But even if you lean very conservatively, you have to give a little respect, even begrudgingly if that is the case, to the Marshall County Democratic Party and its corresponding Democratic Club.
We try to keep it down the middle when it comes to politics. We have been accused of being Democrats by Republicans and of being Republicans by Democrats, so we must be doing something right.
We do believe in pointing it out when an organization does good deeds and that's really what this is about. The Marshall County Democrats have got most civic clubs beat when it comes to community involvement. They do a lot in the community.
The Democrats send in their announcements and there are members of the group I certainly consider personal friends, so I am perhaps more aware than most just what all they are involved in. I thought it was a broad enough list touching on such a large variety of things that I ought to point it out.
Susan McKenney, the group’s fearless leader, is about as organized as a person comes and it is pretty remarkable really.
Just in case you haven’t given the local Democrats much thought, let me recap some of their activities for you:
• They clean up litter on a terribly littered section of Highway 431 in the vicinity of County Park No. 1. They "adopted" the mile through PALS, the anti-litter group, 4 years ago and they have stayed with it. If you don’t respect anything else they do, you have to respect folks who will give up their free time to pick up dirty, nasty litter in an area that is a gateway to our fair city.
• Some of the local Democrats have been volunteering at the COVID-19 vaccine clinics at the Marshall County Health Department.
• They award a couple of scholarships every year to local high school seniors. I know some of the kids who’ve gotten scholarships from them and they’re good kids. As any college student or parent knows, free money for college is always a nice thing.
• They watch the local elections like a hawk. It was the Democrats, Susan especially, who discovered some irregularities at one of the Sand Mountain beats a couple years ago. Through a glitch, some votes had not been counted. They didn’t affect the outcome of the election, but it is important for voters to know their votes count. We need watchdogs for our election from both sides of the aisle. It is an important function of the political parties.
• They hosted a series of drive-through voter clinics during the pandemic. The clinics served a couple functions, notably registering people to vote and also providing materials to make voting absentee easier during the COVID crisis.
• They recruit and run candidates for local office. Those candidates haven’t done too well here in Trump country lately, but it’s important for them to run even if it seems like “tilting at windmills.” The worst thing in our democratic republic is when there is only one candidate for office. The people deserve a choice when they go to the polls.
• They offer free rides to polling places on election day. That’s important since access to vote can be an issue, especially for economically disadvantaged or elderly voters.
• They sponsored a dog at the Second Chance Shelter a couple years ago. Giving animals a second chance is noble work, even if you name the poor thing “Hillary.”
• They held a series of educational, issues-based meetings in 2019. I may not be able to recall all of the topics, but the issues included the environment, education, marijuana and Medicaid expansion. I attended a couple of them, the ones on marijuana and Medicaid, and learned something at each one.
• They gave out masks during the pandemic, again a noble gesture. I stopped by one of the events and got a couple masks and, if memory serves, a copy of the Constitution.
Please don’t misconstrue this column as me advocating that you become a Democrat. I am trying to be more apolitical than ever before. Both parties – especially at the state and national level – do things that absolutely exasperate me and I am not an advocate for one party over the other.
I write this merely to point out that the local Democrats are organized and active and they do a whole lot to try to make Marshall County a little better place while they grow their party.