Music and Missouri Make Democrats Stronger

Music and Missouri Make Democrats Stronger

The Grateful Dead, and its dedicated fans are still with us. I am back in town from a three-concert trip. With the death of Jerry Garcia, the band has transformed into a new group. The Dead play their familiar tunes, but with new musicians like guitarist and songwriter, Warren Haynes.

The musicians are better than ever, anchored by two Grateful Dead mainstays—Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. Of course, the fans still make every concert “ a happening,” just what that seemingly ancient phrase meant. Tie-dyed clothing and the anarchistic spirit of the 1960s live on.

Consider this fact: In this era of court suits between musicians and fans over copyright infringement, the Dead still permit their fans to record and distribute “bootleg” recordings. At a concert, the person in front of you will rise and start dancing, it is bad manners to ask them to sit down. The overriding principle is finding ways to avoid telling people what to do.

Unsurprisingly, the fans have their own politics typified by the T-shirt with a vagina labeled “good bush” and a picture of the president dubbed “bad bush.” Whoopi Goldberg would offend nobody at a Dead concert.


Beyond the admittedly insular Dead Head family, Missouri became the fifth state to amend its constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. The overwhelming vote was clearly a disappointment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. When 70 percent of the voters are against you, it hurts.

But the election results will be good for Democrats and John Kerry over the longer haul. First, the measure was voted on during the primary and not in the general election, removing gay marriage as a priority issue in November when Missouri is a crucial battleground state.

Of equal importance, but perhaps not as obviously, the primary strengthened the Democratic ticket. His own party ousted the incumbent Democratic governor. Gov. Bob Holden conceded defeat to Claire McCaskill, the state auditor. She will face Matt Blunt, the secretary of state, who won the Republican primary.

McCaskill won in the rural part of the state largely on her pledge to work cooperatively with Republicans on passing a state budget. The budget issue loomed large in California and led to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election It led to the defeat of a governor in Missouri. Is there a lesson here for New York State officials?

The Missouri Democrats bounced a weak governor who was expected to lose and will field a stronger ticket with Claire. McCaskill. This will help John Kerry.

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