"One generation got old.
One generation got sold.
This generation's got no destination to hold.
Pick up your prize."
- The Jefferson Airplane
I live in Alabama. The only time I've voted for a Republican for President was in 1972 when I was eighteen and voting in my first presidential election. The candidate, of course, was old Tricky Dick himself. When asked by my friends why I would vote for someone thought even then to be a scurilous S.O.B., I said, "He is an S.O.B. but he's our S.O.B." The point was that at that time with VietNam still waiting for young Southern boys like me fresh out of high school ROTC, there was a six thousand mile long logistics train running thin into Southeast Asia. As a military student and having had two brothers go and return from in country, I knew exactly what this was about and while I would not sign up as a C.O. (conscientious objector), neither was I eager to get on that big silver bird and find myself snuffing through the Mekong or the Ho Chi Minh trail. Call it fear or common sense, but unbeknownst to me, my brothers were hatching a plot to grab my young behind and schlep it across the Canadian border. With a very very low draft number, it looked like my time was coming when my lucky vote cashed in and Nixon stopped the draft. We needed an S.O.B. to get us out of VietNam, and he was the Man.
All of that is a long winded way to say that I am a Free Range Democrat. Democrats are exceedingly rare in this state that distinguished itself in the last few years by passing laws against selling sex toys, attempting to ban the use of diminished fifths in music (there goes "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"), three times refusing to allow state lotteries to support education, banning the airing of the ABC special honoring the fallen soldiers in Iraq, and refusing 9 to 1 to watch the Democratic Convention. You just thought George Wallace was the worst we could do. No one out Bubba's the BamaBubbas.
If there is a place further to the right than Alabama, it could only be Texas and as they say, Texas is just Hell without the inconveniences.
You can spot Free Range Democrats easily at a distance. They resemble feral dogs that live in the desert with wisps of hair hanging loosely off their heads, and panting as if the next breath will be their last. Somehow they survive even though they are hunted for sport and pleasure. Twenty years ago, they were numberless and the most powerful domestic herd animals in the American South. Ronald Reagan was their downfall. After Jimmy Carter sinned in his heart, and then the Great Obsfuscator told them that their best behinds were before them and trickled down on their Ford pickups, the squarest dancers obediently aleman'd right and doe-si-doed all to the sound of their rowdy friends coming round with red ties, dark suits, and close-cropped haircuts. Now they are the New South, rich, successful, ultra-protestant and always willing to help a neighbor skin a deer or skim a profit. These dogs are now every bit the modern Republican.
Over time, the ranks of the Free Range Democrats dwindled to just the few bewildered dreamers you see before you. They seem to be the same people I saw in my youth at bong parties and working at the local waterbed store where I upholstered waterbeds. (No joke. Someone actually did have to figure how to wrap the vinyl around the pad and staple it to the frame without leaving a point that would puncture the mattress. It's a real craft.) They seldom gather in large numbers because the Republicans won't allow them to hold events that would attract large numbers, and because beer is too expensive to throw away. The mainstream Democratic Party has written them off and I don't expect the Calvacade of Rock Stars to come closer than 200 miles to the Great State of AlaBubba.
On the other hand, Free Range Democrats are the masters of dirty deeds done dirt cheap. Survival and dead dendrites do that to impounded animals. "Something's happenin' here.." the Buffalo Springfield sang to us long long ago, and you know what, something's happening again.
Last weekend I attended the second wedding of an old friend from my theatre freak days. The wedding was just an excuse to get a party beneath the Republican radar. Even the Blue Meanies had to sleep sometime. All the talk was of ways to take the Shrubs out of Washington. These lop-eared vermin were excited. Young kids listened as adults who have spent most of the last twelve years asleep on their couches plotted guerilla art tactics to get out the vote. They covered the windows in black plastic just as they did in their youth, but instead of pulling out bags, they put a DVD into their computer and used a full screen projector to view Frankenheimer's "Manchurian Candidate" in glorious black and white and surround sound on the living room wall. More sober and more studied than I've seen them, the Free Range Democrats have a cause.
And they live for a cause.
"America, where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
America, we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster."
The Volunteers for America are back on the streets.
In an election that could come down to the dregs of the vote, the Dixie Dregs are oiling up their axes, putting up signs, wearing buttons, and writing their blogs. If it all goes as planned, we'll be able to achieve something really wonderful... we'll bring back the Dixie Chicks.