August 03, 2005

Time to Move On

It is with some trepidation that I'm announcing my decision to leave the Democratic Party and join the Green Party. This may come as some surprise to some of my readers, who are used to me fighting tooth and nail for Democratic politicians and Democratic policies. Since this may be a little shocking to some, I've decided to provide some explanation as to what brought me to this decision.

First, I should point out that unlike some of my past decisions, this one was not made with haste. I have been mulling it over since Michelle Strausbaugh (Behind the Surface) joined Sollicitudo Rei Socialis back in May, and since I added her bio to the contributor bios. I noticed in her bio that she was a member of the Green Party, not a Democrat, and that intrigued me. That was when I started looking into the Green Party, and I saw things I liked there. I saw a party committed to principles instead of politics, a party that let its principles shape its politics instead of the other way around.

I saw a party committed to grassroots democracy, the kind of democracy that rejects the hidden corporate oligarchy that has taken over our nation and both of our major political parties. I saw a party truly committed to social justice and equal opportunity for all Americans, including GLBTQ Americans. I saw a party committed to ecological wisdom, to respect for our national and global environment, and I saw that this ecological respect is actually important to the Green Party. It's not just an aside posted somewhere in its platform: "By the way, we like the environment..." I saw a party truly committed to nonviolence, a party that had opposed the invasion of both Iraq and Afghanistan, a party that didn't vote for the war before it voted against it, and a party that had also opposed the Clinton bombing of Kosovo. I saw a party committed to political decentralization, a party that wanted to take the wealth and power out of the hands of Washington elitists and put it back in the hands of the American people. I saw a party committed to community-based economics, to feminism and gender equity, to respect for diversity, to personal and global responsibility, and to a true focus on a sustainable future for America and the rest of the world.

Perhaps most importantly to me on a personal level, I saw a party that would welcome me as a gay man all the time, not just when it needed me to help with its presidential or congressional campaigns. I saw a party whose presidential candidate would never come out after his failed presidential campaign and thumb his nose at GLBTQ Americans by saying that he supports a state constitutional amendment in his state to ban gay marriage. I saw a party totally unlike either the Republican or Democratic Parties, and I liked what I saw.

Still, I was quite hesitant to make the decision to cross over from mainstream politics into the realm of fringe politics. My continued fear is that, as much as I like the Green Party, it will never reach the kind of national primacy that the Democratic and Republican Parties have reached. But there have been a few catalysts over the past few weeks that have made me decide that I do need to cross over to the Green Party, that I need to try to make a difference for it and bring it to the national level to compete with both the Republicans and the Democrats in the hopes of creating a stronger, more democratic America.

The first catalyst was seeing the infighting that has begun in both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Right now, the Republican Party is on the verge of implosion, with moderate and liberal Republicans separating from extremist conservatives on issues ranging from embryonic stem cell research to John Bolton's nomination. Meanwhile, infighting has begun in earnest within the Democratic Party, with liberal Democrats aligned with Howard Dean's Democratic National Committee beginning a full out attack on the more moderate Democratic Leadership Council. It seems that both political parties are going through a mid-life crisis, and there's no better time for a political party that knows what it is about to burst onto the scene than when the two major political parties are going through an identity crisis.

The second catalyst was a comment that Michelle made:

You're correct that political parties in American history dissolve as a third moves in, but that's not going to happen so long as Democrats keep voting Democratic out of fear rather than belief.

Finally, the third catalyst was Paul Hackett's failed run for Congress in Ohio's second district. It occurred to me then that the loss of focus in the Democratic Party, the loss of identity, has rendered the Democratic Party totally useless in American politics:

If an Iraq War veteran cannot win an election in Ohio, against a mediocre and seemingly loony Republican, whose campaign manager was involved in weird sexual activities -- folks, the Democratic Party has a tremendous, possibly irreparable, problem. There's no reason why he shouldn't have won, and the fact that he didn't does not bode well for the Democrats in either 2006 or 2008.

The Democratic Party has lost all sense of identity, and has now slipped into irrelevance. It is, put simply, time to move on from here. It's time to move on from a political party that only knows how to criticize its opponents to a political party that knows what it wants for America and what it needs to do to get there. So, even though I am still somewhat hesitant, I have indeed decided to become a Green -- I registered last night, and I'm announcing it today. It's time for a new political system in America, and that political system can't be provided by the corrupt political system that's already in place. It would be like putting new wine into old wineskins, and a very wise man once cautioned his disciples not to do that. I am his disciple, and it's time for me to start listening.

(Cross-posted to Quo Vadis).