Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wendell Ford: RIP and Good Riddance

I would dearly love to know what Wendell H. Ford, former Governor, former U.S. Senator, and godfather of the Kentucky Democratic Party since before most current members of it were born, really thought about President Barack Obama.

Because while Governor Ford pushed progressive policies in Kentucky beyond what would be possible even today - massive public spending, getting the General Assembly to approve the Equal Rights Amendment and a coal severance tax - U.S. Senator Ford kept the FDA from regulating tobacco, supported anti-abortion legislation and poured billions of tax dollars down the "synthetic fuels from coal" toilet.

Given his age and background, I am quite certain Ford was a stone racist, though a quiet one. But he was also a stone Yellow Dog Democrat, reviling repugs at every opportunity and supporting Democratic candidates.  In the 2008 and 2012 elections, did the racist or the Yellow Dog win out?  I can't imagine him voting for a repug, but I can't imagine him voting for a black man, either. 

In the end, I can't forgive him for retiring from the Senate in 1998, allowing repug Jim Bunning to replace him. In Ford's day 40 years ago, Kentucky had one of the deepest Democratic candidate benches in the country.  You could predict which Democratic candidate would win the governor's race 20 years out, just by looking at the current holders of state offices. 

Repug voters registered as Democrats just so they could vote in the Democratic primary, the winner of which automatically won the general election.

Now, there's not a Democratic candidate in sight who could beat a widely-hated repug with a 35 percent approval rating last year, or any of the current repug candidates for governor in November.

Ford let that bench collapse. And because of that, by Jan. 2017 Kentucky is likely to have an all-repug state government.

And we'll all be envying Ford, safe in his grave.

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