15 May 2017 — 0742 mdt
Flathead Dem dinner was 400% as expensive as a 1970 DFL bean feed
In October, 1970, Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer-Labor Party held a big dinner — a DFL Bean Feed, to use the party’s lingo; and yes, beans were on the menu — at the Minneapolis Armory. Former Peace Corp director Sargent Shriver was the headline speaker. The featured politicians were former U.S. Senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, running again for the senate, and Wendell Anderson, running for governor. Both won their elections.
The price of a ticket? Two dollars. Adjusted for inflation, approximately twelve 2017 dollars.
Two days ago, Flathead County’s Democratic Party held its big spring dinner at the Hilton in Kalispell. Sen. Jon Tester and congressional candidate Rob Quist were the featured speaker. It wasn’t a paper plate and Campbell’s Pork ‘n Beans affair like the DFL bean feeds I remember. Tickets were $45 at least three days in advance. Nevertheless, the dinner sold out. Financially, it was a resounding success.
But socially and politically, it was another example of how far Democrats have moved from the poor and middle class voters they used to represent. Forty-five-dollar tickets to the party’s major dinners are beyond the means of the party’s Widow Murphys, who live on triple-digit Social Security payments, and who volunteer for hours stuffing envelopes and making telephone calls.
A burgers, beans, and beer, bash at a union hall for $15 a head would be a lot more affordable for low earning working people and for impoverished seniors. It might be an unsettling experience, an exercise in slumming, for the snooty Clintonites who still control the Democratic Party, but for some of us it would be a return to the party’s roots and the road to winning elections again.