A powerful thing happened at the GOP’s Missouri Caucus and it had little to do with the caucus. I met a Democratic Psychiatrist. Like me, he was a guest. We watched the meeting together. Later, he gave me a gift- a copy of the message he delivered to a meeting of Democratic County Chairmen last week.
As to the Caucus…
It was pretty tame. Pleasant country people. Not much rancor. General words of disdain for Barack Obama, but very little energy/passion behind those words.
40 people gathered and agreed to an agenda. I was told this was 1/4 of the number expected. Some lackluster speeches were made in support of the four candidates. The chair of the caucus reminded the group that Rick Santorum had won the “Primary Poll” with 52.5% of the vote. Mitt Romney got 25.3%, Ron Paul 12.2% and Other 7.3%. Those results were advisory only. Those running for seats as delegates for the April 21 congressional district conventions indicated who they were supporting, although they would not be bound by those declaration at the conventions.
There was a bit of open discussion. Most seemed to think that Gingrich was a self serving fool, and that Paul was in service to a very peculiar agenda that was both narrow and unrealistic. Virtually all agreed that neither could be elected. So the group turned to the question of whether they should send delegates who supported the guy who was likely to get the nomination, who might attract enough independents to win, and who they could not stand or the guy who represented their points of view regarding the “real issues.” and seemed to be their kind of guy. It was clear those “real issues” focused on what the members called “old fashioned American values that put home and church first.” Not a long discussion. Santorum’s representatives won the day easily.
Afterwards, I went for tea with the psychiatrist and several mutual friends. We talked a bit about the caucus. One of the veteran GOP activists said it was all for show. The conventions would be manipulated to put forth the delegates who would do the state the most good. He suspected they would go for Santorum.
One of our friends then mentioned that the doctor had made quite an impression at a meeting of Democratic county chairs. He had made a statement in support of Barack Obama which was very well received and regarded as unique. Another in our group asked what he said. He had come prepared and had copies of the statement. It was extraordinary. I asked if I might share it on this blog. He agreed. He asked that I not credit him by name. “I am not quite ready to go public yet. There is more work to be done in gathering the data, but I am willing to share the core of the message with those who will be encouraged by it.” Here it is.
“As a psychiatrist I expected a huge increase in suicides in the Fall and Winter of 2008 and 2009. The hospital staff with which I am affiliated had met several times to discuss the likely impact of the economic catastrophe on mental health. We all remembered the accounts of suicides among those in the financial sector at the start of the Great Depression. What is less well known is that suicide rates across the entire working population in 1929 and 1930 were triple those of 1927 and 1928. We thought, and the literature supported our thinking, that it would be as bad or worse in contemporary America…especially in a culture far less religious than that one was.
It turned out not to be so. We have certainly experienced an increase in cases of clinical and situational depression, but that increase has been less than ten percent. This has been the experience across the country. Why?
I want to suggest that Barack Obama and the ‘Spirit of Hoped-For Change’ is the key. The record crowds at his inauguration came to celebrate, yes, but also to seek comfort. Read his inaugural address with this in mind and it takes on a very different meaning.
As Democrats, we need to stop apologizing when the GOP charge that many of us foolishly believed that Obama was “The One.” I think we need to accept, indeed embrace, that he was indeed the “essential one” whose tone, public discourse, and sense of cool, calm confidence were what we desperately needed, no matter what our political leanings. The President is, whether for good or ill, the patriarch of the nation. In this case, he has clearly worked to and for our good. His work is not done. Our need is still real. Obama 2012.