Democratic Spine

(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)


Democratic Spine ©2008 Emily Duffy Photo by Sibila Savage

Dimensions: 14″ x 14″ x 9″

Description: A mini coffin with a truncated human spine lays in a bed of velvet. The coffin is covered with quotes by Progressive, Democrats both recent and from history.

Materials: Wood, parchment reproductions of the Bill of Rights, burgundy velvet, metal hardware, paper, amber varnish.

Cross-Posted on my BLOG (where you can see larger images) and at DailyKos.

I was so mad when my Senator (Dianne Feinstein) voted to give George W. Bush the power to invade Iraq, that I switched my lifelong voter registration from Democratic to the Green party. I was fed up with the spineless, waffling, weak-kneed Dems who simply refused to do anything to stop Bush’s mad rush towards war and destruction. The only thing that brought me back and made me decide to fight the right wing takeover, was the improbable Presidential candidacy of Howard Dean. Like a canary in the political coalmine he blew the whistle on Democratic lawmaker’s spinelessness. He made a dramatic speech at the California Democratic Convention, in March 2003:

What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq?

What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts, which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States?

What I want to know is why the Congress is fighting over the Patient’s Bill of Rights? The Patient’s Bill of Rights is a good bill, but not one more person gets health insurance and it’s not 5 cents cheaper.

What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us, joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in providing health insurance for every man, woman and child in America.

What I want to know is why so many folks in Congress are voting for the President’s Education Bill– “The No School Board Left Standing Bill”– the largest unfunded mandate in the history of our educational system! Source

The media and established Democrats claimed he was crazy but he was the inspiration for millions of regular citizens like me. His courage to boldly speak truth to power has led to a national grassroots movement unseen in this country for decades. This movement has embraced the historic candidacy of Barack Obama and hopefully is strong enough to propel him into the White House on November 4, 2008.


Democratic Spine Back ©2008 Emily Duffy Photo by Sibila Savage

The problem with paying attention to politics is that you often feel disappointed and disillusioned. I think that’s why so many of us avoid it completely. I’m constantly battling the urge to walk away from it all but what keeps me working towards removing the radical right wing is remembering what happened to my great aunts, and uncles.

They were Hungarian Jews living in what became part of Romania after World War I. Some of them, including my maternal grandparents, emigrated to the U.S. in search of work. My grandmother was the youngest of 11 children, my grandfather the youngest of 13. Their marriage was arranged by the families when she was 19 and he was 21. Several of her brothers had previously married some of his sisters.


Democratic Spine Detail ©2008 Emily Duffy Photo by Sibila Savage

They became U.S. citizens and lived the American dream. They worked hard, saved money, were able to buy a little property, and eventually send their one child, my mother, to college.

Unfortunately their brothers and sisters, who remained behind in Hungary and Romania, were caught up in World War II, put into Nazi concentration camps and eventually killed. No one from either family, who stayed in Europe, survived.


Democratic Spine Detail ©2008 Emily Duffy Photo by Sibila Savage

Perhaps you know of this poem, it was written by a

German, Lutheran pastor:

When the Nazis came for the communists,

I remained silent;

I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,

I remained silent;

I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,

I did not speak out;

I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,

I remained silent;

I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out.

By Martin Niemöller


Democratic Spine Detail ©2008 Emily Duffy Photo by Sibila Savage

This sculpture is aimed at the people who have sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution, to represent “we the people” in government, and to protect America’s national interests, but have failed in their duty.

All my life I’ve been told, “it will never happen here” (meaning, fascism in America) and yet every year of my life I’ve seen our country get closer to the same tendencies that evolved into Nazism in “Democratic” Germany. While I mostly blame greedy, insatiable, self-serving right-wing radicals for wanting to keep all of life’s goodies for themselves, I hold those, who passively enable them to commit their crimes, in even lower regard.

NOTE: You’re welcome to share my artwork and comments with anyone you think might appreciate them. But I ask that you give proper credit of these copyrighted works and link them back to this blog. None of this artwork may be used by others for profit of any kind.

Please help spread the link to this blog everywhere you can. This artwork was created for the purpose of making Americans think carefully about the kind of country they want this to be when they vote on November 4, 2008. Do they want a continuation of 8 years of fear, war, division, hate, economic drain, isolationism, and denial of science, climate change, and basic reality? If not, they need to vote for, support, donate to, and cover the back of the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.


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  1. My favorite so far. Thank you!

    • dkmich on October 4, 2008 at 18:40

    I do have a suggestion however.  I think you need to put a heart and a brain in there with that little dinky spine.  

  2. This and the dress are wonderful pieces.  Thank you for making them and for posting them here.

    Sounds like you have roots in the same place in Hungary/Romania as my mom’s family.  A place called Focsani (on the maps) or “Fok-shun” in speaking.  I’m absolutely sure that that and the stories about that have done a lot to shape my politics from the time I was a child, but that’s an entire series of essays, not just a comment.  

    • OPOL on October 4, 2008 at 20:22

    You’re doing incredible work.  

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