Members of the Democratic Party of Ashe County were moved by a stirring speech given by guest speaker Seth Chapman during the party’s special dinner honoring the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt on Saturday, April 6, which turned into a called to action for the Democratic Party.
“There have been a lot of good men to sit in that seat (the president’s seat), but only one has pulled America out of the brink, and fought a world war at the same time,” said Chapman.
Chapman, a former clerk in Alexander County, pointed out FDR was wealthy, and didn’t need to “stick his neck out” for the American people during the depression, but he did what he could out of a genuine love for his fellow countrymen.
“He was not bothered by the depression whatsoever,” said Chapman, “but he took it upon himself to help the nation recover. He was a handicapped man in today’s terms, but he got up; he wanted to do something for America , and he did,” said Chapman.
“And that’s the point of FDR. Roosevelt made it his business to try to help the ‘forgotten man,’” said Chapman.
For instance, one of FDR’s insights is he believed children and seniors needed some form of social security, an idea that “Republicans were against at the time and are still against today,” said Chapman.
“They (Republicans) hated that program, and they want to do away with social security, Medicare and Medicaid,” said Chapman.
Chapman later said many people feel like the “Tea Party” is a new movement, and the idea of stripping government programs down is a new trend. But Chapman argued those ideas have been around since the beginning of the Republican Party.
“The Tea Party has been around forever, they are the Republican Party. They are the party of the wealthy, and if you have not, that’s just too bad,” said Chapman.
“But the more the Democrat Party does for them (the people), the more they turn Republican,” said Chapman.
During his speech, which eventually turned into a fiery political sermon, Chapman began to criticize some of the legislation that has been proposed by newly-elected Republican leaders in North Carolina.
One example he gave was the “Healthy Marriage Act,” which would set a two-year waiting period for divorce, and require the couple to seek counseling. In North Carolina, couples already have a one-year waiting period for divorce.
“We’ve got unemployment out the wazoo, but people in Raleigh are worried about divorce,” said Chapman, “what makes them think adding another year will help a couple reconcile?”
Chapman also commented on the Republican Party’s push to establish a state religion and eliminate voter fraud in North Carolina.
“We’ve got people out of work, we’ve got elderly folks that need medical attention, we have bridges crumbling underneath tractors and trailers,” said Chapman, who felt those issues needed to take precedence.
Chapman concluded his speech with a call to action for the Ashe County Democratic Party, saying the party could learn from FDR.
“FDR is the greatest president these United States has ever known, and he was a liberal,” said Chapman.
“We have to get back to being the party of the people, for the people,” said Chapman, “that needs to be the lesson of the Democratic Party.”
Before Chapman began his speech, Roy Carter and others in attendance said Chapman was one of the most dynamic speakers they had ever heard, and according to the audience’s standing ovation at the end of his speech, they weren’t disappointed by Chapman’s stirring words.
The Ashe County Democratic Party plans to hold their convention at the Ashe County Courthouse beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 13.