Confessions of a Democrat in Monroe
I have a confession to make. Not one of stepping into the confessional on a Saturday afternoon as we were taught as Catholic kids, speaking to the Priest, and listing our sins so that we could say 5 “Hail Mary’s” and 2 “Our Father’s”. Rather, this is a political confession and one made mostly out of embarrassment.
I am a Democrat in Monroe.
It’s a badge that anyone who is a registered Democrat in Monroe wears with shame, since it’s carried the stigma by association with other Democrats in the Town to whom we’d rather not be aligned. Not the Democrats that have run for public office in Orange County — people like Roxanne Donnery, Michael Sussman, James Skoufis or others too numerous to mention — that have shown a level of ethics beyond reproach.
It’s the badge that we as Democrats in Monroe wear as if it’s a scarlet letter, or a sign on our backs reading “Kick me”.
It isn’t that we are ashamed of the Democratic platform that had been finely tuned to represent the interests of normal working families trying to sustain a house in the suburbs, give their kids a fair education, and have a chance at seeing a comfortable living and success in our jobs.
Rather, it’s an issue of the people locally tarnishing that badge because they represent one faction of the Democratic party with whom no one — at least on the south side of NY Route 17 — shares any common ground. It’s become associated with egomaniacs like Harley Doles and Gerard McQuade and Dan Burke: our Town Board, or at least that portion of the Town Board who has shown nothing but contempt for those who didn’t support them in the last election.
As a registered Democrat in Monroe, I have nothing in common with those folks. I’d never endorse their practices. I’d never treat the citizens they serve as callously as they have. I’d never be as contemptuous as them. All we have in common? Our party affiliation as registered in Orange County.
Frankly, I have no aspirations for public office because I don’t believe in making a living based on the taxes of our citizens. I have a private sector job — no fat pension, no endless health insurance coverage, no perks.
I go to work, come home, and worry about the concerns of my neighbors, my school, my property values, and the way of life in my community. In other words, things that anyone — Republican or Democrat — would worry about. All of us, regardless of party, are more concerned with paved and safe roads, not wrecking our cars in the winter because the town didn’t fund salted roadways. We’re concerned with turning on the tap and getting water out of an aging infrastructure. We’re concerned on having schools that can teach our kids to be productive members of our society and give them the skills for jobs or college. Really basic concerns that I’d have, regardless of my party affiliation.
My Republican neighbors share similar concerns. None of us are rolling in dough or have political clout because we’re out there working to pay taxes.
If given the choice between having a paved road that doesn’t kill our tires and suspensions when we travel it, or being entertained with a movie, most of us want the road. If we had to choose between a boat ride or water from our taps, most of us could care less about the boats.
But if we want to vote in a primary election, we need to choose to be a “Democrat” or a “Republican” because that’s how our system works. I chose to be a Democrat.
I feel dirty. I feel ashamed of those leading our community who share that affiliation. Seeing or attending a Town Board meeting makes me need a shower or a stiff drink. Such is the story of anyone registered as a Democrat in Monroe. We’re shamed. We’re intimidated. We’re told that we’re liars if we disagree with the politics of Doles, McQuade and Burke.
I am a Democrat in Monroe.
I’m ashamed of our Democratic leaders in the town.
And we’re ashamed to admit that we have any party affiliation in common with those on our Town Board.
And while it felt relieving to get that off my chest — and I’d gladly pray the rosary to atone for my associated guilt — I’m stumped on what my penance should be.
Are you a Monroe Democrat who has felt disenfranchised by the politics of our town’s leadership? Give us a comment and tell us your story.