Common Ground Between OWS and Tea Party in Kentucky

Kentucky, by most political analyst measure would not be regarded as a Bell Weather State that would indicate any national trends. Still Kentucky held its statewide elections this year and even though all the analytic predictions came true to form without much notice even arguably from within the State itself, to those that notice nuance, something is quietly occurring. Kentucky by most descriptions is a mostly rural conservative state with heavy coal interest, and it is interesting that Democrats with only one or two exceptions swept the election. Incumbent Governor Steve Beshear easily defeated both the Republican candidate David Williams, and the Independent candidate Gatewood Galbraith, yet the nuance being observed is not from this.

On the occasion of election night I had the opportunity to have a long sit down discussion with Gatewood Galbraith’s running mate Dea Riley. By the evenings end Gatewood and Dea, as those that are close to the campaign feel comfortable calling them, had amassed a respectable 9% of the the overall vote; almost 74,000 votes. Considering that in an election where 16 million dollars was spent by their opponents as compared to the 200 hundred thousand dollars accumulated by the Galbraith/Riley’s campaign, all things being equal, where the message of the campaign was heard, dollar for dollar more votes were earned. It is worth noting that Dea Riley’s home county of Franklin and seat of the Capital of Kentucky was won by the Galbraith/Riley campaign.

Dea was optimistic asserting that this was a base building campaign upon which to grow and was undaunted by the outcome of the election. Although Gatewood has run several campaigns without success in the past, for Dea Riley this was her first foray into Politics, and though working hard campaigning to the last hour, she was animated and seemed energized throughout our conversation. She asserted that she nor Gatewood were going away and that their political futures were wide open. She asserted that the message of the Galbraith/Riley campaign was perhaps before its time but the time is still now to go in its direction and she is going to be in the fore front of taking Kentucky there.

The Galbraith campaign had a wide variety of support from many ends of the political spectrum to include the Green Party, some from Tea Party elements, and to those involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. I asked her how this could be given the diversity of their seeming separate agendas. She indicated to me that there was more common ground between the factions than might be realized and though the Tea Party nationally had been co-opted by the GOP and their corporate sponsors, in Kentucky there are many Tea Party Activist though with the common thread of wanting smaller less invasive government are also concerned with the environment and with corporate dominance in public policy. She explained the differing factions were starting from diverse points but are heading eventually to the same destination; that destination being a smaller less Intrusive more efficient Government that is powered by its people and not corporate sponsorship.

The 1st most important issue, to Dea Riley that the United States needs to correct, is the corruption of corporate dominance in public policy. She openly decried the judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of the FCC vs Citizens United, calling it “devastating to democracy” and actively decries the notion of “corporate person-hood”.

She cited as an example of undue and crippling corporate dominance being the Coal industry in Kentucky, which according to her is subsidized from the state by more than 150 million dollars and employs actually only 8000 to 8500 full time workers as compared to the Covington/Newport Airport that employs more than 11,000 full time persons and receives no subsidy. She says the reason for this is the amount of dollars spent in lobbying politicians and money gifted to campaigns by the coal industry. She explained that the Appalachia coal fields are the United States “Saudi Arabia” where billions of dollars are mined out but few dollars are ever returned to the region in investment and millions of dollars are instead used in public relations and to grease politicians to fight the EPA which only protects citizens from the devastating effects of mining operations such as mountain top removal and valley stream fills that pollute watersheds with heavy metals. She cited that the rate of Cancer in the Appalachia region far exceeds other regions. “You don’t have to be a Doctor or Scientist to see the correlation.”

I asked Dea what she would say to those that would criticize her for being “anti-capitalist” or “anti-corporate”. She told me she was neither, that she had a very successful marketing background and she decried the adversarial attitude that is imposed by the current economic business model and that currently it is “win-loose” scenario whereby the consumer, laborers, and residents living in an area are unfairly treated while the wealth of the region is siphoned away. She favors a win win economic model where all participants are treated with fairness. She indicated that a win-loose business model is ultimately unsustainable as evidenced by our current economic woes, and that only a fair business model that endeavors to make winners of us all will ultimately have any success. She wants to bring a win win economic model to Kentucky.

It had been a long night for Dea Riley and a hard fought campaign and when we parted company I had a good feeling that there were some that actually got what our country and state needed. I wished that money had less influence and the truth of a message merited more. I thought too that eventually truth will out … that greed and avarice are only shortly yet very painfully sustained … and that we the people need to have more faith in each other and more courage to face and to defeat greed and avarice. It is a bit strange when you walk from a loss feeling as though a victory has been won. I guess that sense of victory comes from the knowledge that where the truth is heard it is valued despite that money because of greed obstructs, obscures, and dissuades the truth more than ever assist it. It might not be a bell weather moment to many political analyst watching the main stream events of the day … but many trends are quiet and building and in Kentucky last night I think I found the eye in the storm.

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