Racing’s safer, for a start.

Those of you that know me note that I have two passions in life- Politics of the small “d” democratic persuasion and anything with wheels and a motor. Picking between my passions, I’ve gone motorcycling all over the countryside in odd years and turned that same motorcycle with a sidecar into a rolling advertisement for our democratic candidates in election years. Heck, some election years I did a parade or three every weekend all summer and just plain advertising our candidates through Election Day in the fall!

Then came COVID, and while two years in we’ve seen some progress it’s still a deadly disease for old folks like me. I follow the science, which told me to avoid indoor meetings and mask up when that wasn’t possible. Got my four shots and happy to report that I’d still COVID free and intend to stay that way- Again the science says that someone in their 70s like me is as likely to get hospitalized or dead from COVID as an unvaccinated person in their 60s so while the young invulnerable can usually get away with going unmasked indoors if they’re vaccinated, it’s a whole different world of disease and death probabilities for us elders.

‘Twas no surprise that the republicans added COVID to their denials almost from the start, and they were quite willing to sacrifice their own to COVID to look “normal” as they scrunched together unvaccinated and unmasked. We democrats followed the wiser path, as we moved all our meetings online in 2020 and won back the presidency and the senate while doing it. Having handled the COVID crisis masterfully, the big “D” Democrats slept while inflation took off and infant formula and a bunch of other essentials became scarce. Then in 2022 deadly Delta COVID was replaced by “COVID Light” AKA the less lethal Omicron strains. That, vaccinations, and probably the need to look “normal” like the republicans who are moving up in the polls despite having way too many insurrectionist wackos in their ranks apparently persuaded those big “D” Democrats to meet maskless and in person. Thus the decree went out from my states Democratic Party that all conventions would be in person, though a few party units wisely stayed online but not mine here in rural western Minnesota.

When I turned 70 to make some space for the young folks I quit running for party office, though I volunteer if no one else does. When we had our county convention a couple months back COVID was at it’s nadir so I attended, went to the senate district convention masked, and as COVID rates rise I skipped last weekend’s congressional district convention. This weekend the party is stubbornly holding their state convention in Olmsted County where even the CDC’s more cheerful map shows a high rate of infections. And yes, I know the party is requiring vaccinations but a shot or two a year ago is just about worthless and the mandatory COVID testing on Friday or Saturday morning won’t catch COVID caught in the Petri dish around the convention that runs through Sunday. So while I’m a voteless delegate by questionable virtue of being a democratic elected official and a member of a statewide party committee that hasn’t met in months, I can’t take the risk of attending in person and there’s no online option available.

Meanwhile, general “gear heading” and even racing with proper safety precautions has now become safer that politics- Besides riding motorcycles pretty much within the speed limits while wearing full protective gear, I’m going to scratch a several decades itch and go sports car racing and rallying. No, not Daytona or the track we used to call Donnybrook- Low budget and low risk events like autocross and rallycross where you race your car against the clock on a parking lot or field sized course. And because motorcycling especially and auto sports too need the space of the great outdoors in favorable weather, they’re infinitely safer than day(s)long political party meetings inside cramped halls. 

Been thinking about this for a couple years as winning in this rural area has become next to impossible for democrats, but I stayed involved in hopes we could support our statewide candidates who have a chance of winning. So I still did the parades with the rainbow sidecar but realized it wasn’t the ideal message for out here and a tractor would be better…

Problem was finding insurance for the thing, best option was a small business policy for a not insubstantial $500+ a year, which killed that plan. So thought I’d simply take my new blue van and hook it up to my utility trailer made up to be a float…

Low budget and boring, but that means nobody will object to it… Even the motorcycle phobes seem to at least accept minivans. 

Now this story’s been in my head for weeks, but today I tried to post on my congressional district Democratic Party’s Facebook page a request for some candidate’s lawn signs to properly decorate the minivan and trailer… And that simple post remains unposted. A couple minutes later the admin posted their idea of float decorating, with text so small as to be unreadable from halfway across a wide street, and sourced from a non union vendor. I added up the cost if I blew up the size enough to be readable, damn near $500! I quite politely pointed that problem out and was suspended from the page.

That was the last straw.

So to the big “D” Democrats, you’re quite capable of losing rural elections without my assistance and I wish you good luck, you’ll probably need it. To my friends the small “D” democrats, I love you as much as ever and support you in our struggles. I’ll fulfill my obligations as a grassroots party official, but as my attempts to further support the party have been blocked I won’t be volunteering for much of any new projects. I tried…