Although the outcome of the presidential election left the supporters of John Kerry disappointed, Suzie Fish of Great Falls was encouraged by the number of Democratic votes cast in the Great Falls area.
“The result was a huge letdown,” said Fish, “but the next day I started getting phone calls from many people who said, ‘We want to stay organized.’” Smith was the precinct captain in the Great Falls area for the recent elections.
Drawing on positives from the loss, Fish believes that the election showed the Democrats to now have a foothold in the area, which makes her very optimistic. “There is a huge increase in the number of Democratic votes in our area,” said Fish, comparing the results from the 2000 election with the results from this election. Fish does not see President Bush reaching out to the Kerry voters. “I would be pleasantly surprised to see that,” she said.
“The people I talked to that voted for Kerry were pretty devastated,” said Linda Wilcox, a Great Falls resident who organized a project that saw thousands of Vote for Kerry signs put along public roads in weeks leading up to the election. “It’s going to take us a long time to turn this around,” she said.
ACCORDING TO WILCOX, the recent election exposed the value differences in the country. She is hoping that President Bush will be able to find a set of common values that most Americans can follow, not just half of the country, as is reflected by the percentage of the popular vote. “If the values of the extremes get pushed,” said Wilcox, “it is going to alienate Americans even more.” However, she is optimistic that common values will be represented, because of the great respect she has for fellow Americans. “I am very optimistic that the people of America will want that to happen,” she said.
Eleanor Anderson also had a lot of input on the Democratic side of the election in our area and was therefore very disappointed with the outcome. Anderson does not share Wilcox’s hope that Bush will try to find a common ground between the two sets of supporters. “He is not going to make any effort to reach out,” she said. Anderson believes that the question is not whether the Kerry supporters will work with President Bush, but whether he will work with everyone on the Kerry side to unite the country.
Anderson is worried about what she called a very narrow view of morality in the country. “I am deeply concerned how a large percent of the country views what is moral,” said Anderson. She cited environment as one of the highest moral obligations that the United States has, and she does not believe that the current administration will pay attention to the environment.
Fish is concerned about the foreign policy of the current administration, especially in regard to the Middle East. She is afraid that the troops in Iraq may soon be sent to the neighboring countries, like Syria, to search for insurgents. She is very concerned about the latest developments with the Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat, and the consequences his death might have on the region.
THE PHONE CALLS received by Fish have encouraged her to stay active for the upcoming elections. She said that people in the area need to concentrate on the local politics as well as national elections, reminding them that the gubernatorial elections are coming up next year.
While her focus is on the local elections for the time being, Fish is keeping the 2008 presidential elections in her mind. She is hoping that by that time the movement started by Democrats in the area will evolve into more of an organization, but she recognizes that the Democratic candidate will determine the level of involvement by local democrats. “It is a sad commentary that the Democrats automatically write off the South,” said Fish. She thinks that the right candidate could energize Democrats in the South to organize themselves, like her group has, and to change the trends. “We want to change things in Virginia,” she said. Fish cited the Internet as a mechanism that helped the Democrats from the area meet one another and organize. “You don’t recognize a fellow Democrat in the local Safeway,” she said, but through the Internet it is easier to find people who think alike politically in the same area. Anderson agrees with Fish that the Democrats in the area have been identified and believes that the movement will become more organized.