Op-Ed

Kentucky Democrats rarely progressive

Larry Webster
Larry Webster

Amy McGrath is not just another pretty face. She is a feminist, but not the most feminist of them. She is also the first progressive Democrat since Ned Breathitt, who was governor back when liberalism was rising. Ned thought there for a while he had abolished strip mining, but soon realized all he had done was legalize it.

Wendell Ford was with traditional Democrat principles, but only if they were popular enough at the time to get him elected to something. Julian Carroll was an old West Kentucky Democrat when the label was all it took and who, early on, did not stand for much, but later in life, to his credit joined a discriminated-against minority just to see how it feels.

Louie Nunn was sort of a Democrat, the last governor with guts enough to raise taxes without a court order. His kind of Nixon Republicanism is New Deal liberalism-lite, but being elephantine, he doesn’t count.

Come on down the line of Democrats in Kentucky: From John Y. Brown (who was like Donald Trump, with some sense and too much money to be crooked); to Wallace Wilkinson (who actually sort of resembled a Mayor Richard Daley kind of Democrat); to Brereton Jones, who left West Virginia and switched from Republican to Democrat on the Ironton Bridge; Paul Patton, an engineer sort of Democrat whose ancestors were suspected Republicans and who cut off miners from recompense for their lungs; and to Stevie Beshear, who flirted with liberalism too late in his political career to get him the national attention he had so badly wanted.

Find me one of these who might be remotely labeled “progressive.”

In such an era, a young person born into a family of Democrats grows up without ever knowing what he believes in. He has no heroes in his party, and is vulnerable to being Fox hunted.

The Barr-McGrath war is but one epic battle in the war for the political soul of America, not to mention a titanic struggle, as sportscaster Marty Brennaman would declare, between the sexes.

About half want a modern European sort of democracy and about half do not, except they want to keep all the current socialist programs they like, such as Social Security and Medicare. It just so happened that the little half took over after the last election.

That’s the political stuff. The battle of the sexes is that Barr is male. Central Kentucky sort of boy. McGrath is a woman of the opposite sex, safely landed out of the sky and charging ahead like Wonder Woman with more clothes. That doesn’t sit well with all the old men soldiers.

So, we now have old veteran soldiers friendly firing at a Light Kernel on their same side. It must be fun for an old soldier to frag a girl colonel.

Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrencer@bellsouth.net

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