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A Brief, Inspirational Visit with "teacherken"

by: cycle12

Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 06:51:50 AM EDT

Ken "teacherken" Bernstein is currently our houseguest here in Roanoke County while he's working as a volunteer this weekend for the Virginia Dental Association's "Mission of Mercy" free dental clinic at the Roanoke Civic Center; and, as usual, Ken's very busy and I doubt that we will have an opportunity to talk further.  However, our two-hour conversation yesterday evening served to help restore my hope for a better world - eventually - and here's why...

In October of last year - after having been a strong, determined and relentless advocate for Democratic principles and candidates for more than 30 years, and well before November's devastating political tsunami - I quietly informed various local Democrats that 2009 would be my final year of such intense political involvement, and I have stuck to that decision.

On the Sunday after Election Day, 2009, my wife and I hosted a "thank you" party here at our home for our several fine local Democratic candidates and their staunchest supporters.  I explained to that gathering of 30 or so individuals that it was time for the younger members of our local Party to take the reins and, as expected, they agreed to do so without hesitation.

cycle12 :: A Brief, Inspirational Visit with "teacherken"
This group of individuals - including some of the best and brightest local Democratic candidates that I'm certain we've ever assembled in a single year in this part of Virginia - was full of hope and plans for the future in the face of recent defeats, and they were inspirational to me, making me feel even better about my decision.

I have stuck to that decision and have painfully, slowly but surely removed myself from most political activities, and it's amazing how quickly my e-mail inbox messages and cell phone calls dwindled to near nothing.  It's been very peaceful around here of late, and I'm greatly enjoying the quietude and the time for other activities.  I haven't done any blogging for months, and have visited a few blog sites on rare occasion since mid-November.

Being "out of the loop" for a while tends to change one's perspective, so my visit with Ken Bernstein yesterday evening resulted in two revelations:

First, after talking with Ken about various past and more recent local and state Democratic occurrences, I'm glad that I decided to exit most political activities, and I'm even more certain that I made the correct decision last October.

Second, I'm thankful that there are still people like Ken and many of you on this blog, who haven't lost their passion for creating a better world via the political process, and who will continue to fight for same.

I now have no doubt that the political pendulum will swing back our way again some day, and that people like Ken Bernstein will be there to help make sure that it does.

In the meantime, I have nearly six years remaining in my current term of elected office, and I'm concentrating on doing the best job possible in that capacity and have not yet decided whether I'll run for re-election in 2015.  

More importantly, I'm enjoying my political "retirement" and wish all of you the very best in your deliberations and activities.  

I did the right thing for me, and you are doing the right things, the correct things, for all of us.



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Thanks for All You Did...and Do
Steve, I thought it only fitting to say what a great Democrat who is no longer with us used to say, "Thanks for all you do."

I can sympathize with your feelings. I, too, am toying with the idea of a gradual withdrawal from being so active. Not sudden...just gradual.

It was Howard Dean and the the cause of universal health care that got first got me active in 2003. While I would have liked a different reform bill, the one we got is a great start.

Now, I find that it gets harder and harder to stay motivated. However, you are right. There are many fine - and younger - people to pick up the banner. Just remember one thing. They will need your wisdom and experience to be as successful as possible. Stay available for them.

I am not really younger than Steve
but I concur in the sentiment of thanks for what he has done.

This is my world and welcome to it

[ Parent ]
Thanks, Elaine
Agreed; I will always be available, just less intensely...

Your many contributions are much appreciated as well.

Please stay in touch, and thanks again!


[ Parent ]
Last week,
before the HCR bill passed, the director of The Rockbridge Area Free Clinic (where I've been volunteering for the past 18months, in the "dental division") had a long letter to the Editor published in the city's weekly paper. It was strong on data (like: who does not qualify for Medicaid in VA. Horrible) and low on sentiment. But, included fairly high up (2nd para from top), there was this poignant little bit, in the recapitulation of the Clinic's 18yr history:

Indeed, the greatest hope of that founding board, and for every board member that followed, was that the free clinic would no longer be relevant because healthcare wold be available to all.

The second from the last para mentioned just how those hopes have measured to reality:

In 2009 the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic provided 6,100 visits and 24,500 prescriptions to approximately 2,000 people. From 2008 to 2009, there was a a 38 percent increase (emphasis mine) in the number of people seeking services for the first time. The patients that utilize the clinic have nowhere else to to go to receive affordable, on-going healthcare and prescription medication at a price they can afford.

Meanwhile, in this week's edition of the paper, there's a LtE, spouting "fascism! socialism! Bill Ayers!", objecting to being called nasty names (I guess that would be "Teabaggers" -- something they've called themselves before they wised up), claiming lamb-like propensities (I guess that was before Periello's brother's gas line got slashed and before the Sainted Sarah Palin posted photos of 20 Dem reps with crosshairs on them) and bragging about bootstraps/self-reliance (I guess that was before the story came out about the "self-reliant" blogger, who lives on govt disability due to his bad eating habits but who is inciting his readers to throw bricks through the windows of the Dem reps, NOW).

Oh, and the lady also "prescribed" that, for proper guidance, everyone ought to read the Bible (though, I expect, not the more compassionate bits of it) and be constrained to listen to Rush Limbaugh for 6 weeks.

As we used to say in Poland: "the hands fall [in despair]"...

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