Letter: Democrats should back party candidates

In “La. Democrats Can Help Swing Elections,” Stephanie Grace makes good, practical sense — on the surface.

Paraphrasing here: If you’re a center-left political party with few hopes or prospects in a state going so red that it’s burgundy, cast your lot with the least right-wing of the right-wingers so you’re not completely obsolete.

That kind of thinking isn’t new, but it’s flawed.

About 20 years ago, when I was living in red Alabama, a few Democratic friends and I were talking about voting in an open Republican gubernatorial primary. One friend was making the “practical” argument: “I think I’m going to vote for the semi-literate, somewhat more humane candidate.” That got traction amongst most of us because we’d all been raised with Southern notions of propriety and moderation — blessings and curses.

Another friend, a Republican-turned-Democrat, poked a hole in the logic: “Why in the h#*% would you vote for the ‘good’ Republican? First, if he wins, he’s more likely to beat the Democratic candidate. Second, you’re failing your role as the loyal opposition, which a healthy democracy depends on. We’re already restricted, regrettably, to two parties. It makes no sense to concede more.”

Like St. Paul on the rough road to Syria, the truth struck us down. The “practical” way was the path to relinquishing political representation and the road to neglecting our collective role as faithful gadfly, if nothing else.

Why go along with the opposition’s less unsavory ideas when we should be creating and committing to ideas we think are good?

Particularly in a state like Louisiana that’s becoming so one-sided, an alternative must be presented. When a Blue Dog moderate such as Sen. Landrieu can be depicted as a socialist, political and socioeconomic realities must be clarified.

Whether or not the Louisiana Democratic Party is going to lead or even support Democratic candidates, Democrats should enter every race and should support each other however they can. They should play it like they’re going to win it, even if they know they’re going to lose.

Otherwise, a whole generation of potential voters will have, basically, these three options: vote “practically” to maintain an unhealthy status quo, burn themselves out on third-party causes (as I did), or not vote. That’s what “practicality” will get you.

I’m not some naive idealist; quite the contrary, I’m a ticked off, jaded realist living in a state with extraordinary poverty, inadequate health care, and educational systems on the rack.

As much as I respect someone like Jay Dardenne, I’d be stupid to vote for him. The only responsible thing would be to promote and vote for someone like Foster Campbell, without compromise.

Ben Lanier-Nabors