Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why I Left The Democratic Party...For Now

I took the plunge today and left the Democrats after 38 years.  I got tired of defending a party that would leave doctors and the unemployed high and dry.  I got tired of explaining why the Democrats blew their best chance in decades to use their majorities to finally give us a single payer health plan and gave us some weak regulations of health insurance companies instead.  I got tired of being in a party that folds to a minority party every chance they get despite winning a mandate in 2008 to change the failed policies and damage done by that minority party.

So I left the Democrats....again.

The last time the Democrats upset me enough to leave them was when they voted for the USA PATRIOT Act.  That time I changed my party to the Green Party USA.  That lasted less than a month.  The Greens have some great ideas but they have a huge problem:  they don't want to actually do anything about them, as far as I could see.  They put some candidates on the ballot from time to time but didn't seem to get the energy to campaign for them.  My experience with them was their idea of "action" was to get together, watch some taped documentary, discuss a few books, cluck their tongues about how awful it all was then go home.

The Greens fit in with a term I have -- The Useless Left.  You know them too, especially if you are a progressive.  They're the ones who organize marches, made the word "table" into a verb (Yes, really.  They no longer just sit at tables at some rally handing out literature and selling some buttons and T-shirts.  They are now "tabling.") and are great with the critiques of the political system and culture.  What they aren't so good at is what to do about all those problems.  They are the embodiment of putting the lie to "the truth shall set you free" which doesn't work if there isn't some real, meaningful action behind it.

They ran me back to the Democratic Party, where I worked for candidates that kinda sorta believed as I do until now.

Thanks to something called "fusion voting" passed into law here in Oregon, I started looking around for a new party to help out after the Dems showed themselves barely able to stand upright due to a lack of spine.

The new party I chose is The Working Families Party.  They are the first minor party I've seen that seems to understand what one can do with a minor party.  Most minor parties, at their most successful, put candidates on the ballot that get few votes but sometimes just enough to elect Republicans.  Their real hope is that by running those candidates they will get their ideas aired in the hope that a major party picks up on one or two of them and does something with it.

The WFP, a long-running party in New York thanks to that state's election rules, has passed on the losing candidate approach and has gone straight for the ideas.  Thanks to the new fusion voting system in Oregon, they go after specific legislation by co-nominating progressive candidates that will work to get their ideas into law.  After trying for 38 years to change the Democratic Party back into the party of working people and the  poor from within, I've decided I liked their ideas and to help them build the party into a force that will exert pressure on the Democrats from the outside.

They rarely run candidates so the Democrats will still probably get my vote in November but I feel I will have a club with the WFP to beat them back in line when they get the urge to follow the lure of corporate dollars over the people who elected them. Registering as a member of the party gives them the number of registered voters required by Oregon to have access to the ballot.

Here's where I make my pitch to my fellow Oregonians - especially independent voters and disaffected Democrats - to do as I did.  You wanted an alternative to the major parties, well this one may be our best shot.  

There are two ways to immediately support the Working Families Party.

  1. Change your party affiliation by re-registering to vote - something you can now do online here.
  2. If you do or don't do that, you can donate at least $24.00 or more to make you a dues-paying member of the WFP.  The $24.00 figure is a minimum annual donation.
Don't just sit back and complain about the major parties - do something about them.

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