Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Independent Day

My symbolic resignation from the Democratic Party went into the mail today: I changed my voter registration to Independent.

The Beloved Spousal Equivalent is not amused. She’s focusing on my loss of voting privileges in primary elections. I’ve voted in primary elections for thirty years. It hasn’t helped.

My change of registration is not the same as a change of heart. I was a Democrat because Democrats wanted to do things more closely aligned with my philosophy than Republicans. They say they still do. I have just run out of patience with their reluctance to take positive action and stand by it.

I’ve been harshly critical of Republicans since Reagan’s election in 1980, and my distaste for their agenda and methods has only grown in the intervening years. Their policies are largely responsible for our current economic crisis, an unprecedented re-distribution of wealth away from those who could least afford it and toward those who least needed it, the overextension of our military, great steps backward in the area of personal rights, and establishing the United States as a bellicose pariah in much of the world. All of the above, and more, deserved all the criticism they received. In fairness, the Republicans knew what they wanted to do, and they did it. Unapologetic, heedless of consequences, ruthless even, but they got their agenda through with fewer votes in Congress than the Democrats have available now.

The Democrats have policies I’m happy to support; it’s their support that’s questionable. Party leaders appear to be more concerned about building bi-partisan coalitions than they are in getting their programs passed. After watching this for six months, I can only conclude they’re more interested in political cover than in bi-partisanship. This is not change I can believe in.

The Democrats have a solid majority in the House, and 58 effective votes in the Senate. (Kennedy and Byrd aren’t voting for health reasons.) True, that’s two votes short of what’s needed to shut down a filibuster, but it’s more votes than Bill Frist ever had when he shoved the Bush Agenda—Patriot Act, Department of Homeland Security, Iraq War, budget-busting tax cuts—through Harry Reid’s opposition like a fire hose through a wall of soap bubbles.

I can’t bear to even read about the Sotomayor hearings. We all know what everyone will say before they say it, so there’s no point in wasting time watching or listening. The media reports it as though each side’s talking points are proven facts, and the pundits drive home their side’s preferred positions, so nothing is to be gained there, either.

Enough of this switching parties shit. It’s time for people of strong conviction and good conscience to start dropping out of both parties. If things ever evolve to the point where Democrats and Republicans together can’t get fifty percent of the registered voters, some honest-to-god other parties might take hold. Two or three new ones should be sufficient. Then everyone would have to look for a coalition to govern, veto overrides would always be in question. Each party could actually stand for something, and would, hopefully, promote candidates that did the same.

For years I had to put up with George W. Bush as the face this country—and, by association, I—projected to the world. Quitting the country of your birth is one thing. Walking away from a political party joined by choice because you probably wouldn’t have joined in the first place if you knew then what you know know, is something else altogether.

(For more depth on my discontent, read this excellent column by Steven Pearlstein.)

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