I was born and raised in a very politically active family. I was 8 when my father, a Democrat, was elected to the State Senate. He went on to serve for over 30 years and during that time I spent a lot of time meeting and hanging out with all sorts of political characters: committee people, ward leaders, representatives, governors, etc. Before I was even born my dad was active in Democtatic politics. And he was serious about it. Especially his hatred for the Republicans. As an example, I clearly remember growing up that anything elephant related (a picture, a statute, a mug) was banned from our home.
I tell you this to explain that not only do I know a bit about politics but also that I was deeply indoctrinated into the Democrat/Republican divide early on. I was pretty much trained to hate Republicans like they were the most evil and awful people in the world and that I was to be a Democrat for life.
It wasn’t until later in life that I really started to focus on being active in the political world. After the election of George W. Bush I started to really pay attention to world events and the more I learned, the more angry I got. Bush and his entire Executive Branch were all doing some awful things.
I needed to channel this rage in some way for good so I started actively blogging (many of that right here), posting on Facebook and talking about politics to anyone who would listen to me. I listened a lot do Dan Carlin and the now defunct “Common Sense” podcast and I learned that it wasn’t just the BWH (Bush White House) doing damage and it wasn’t just Republicans, it was all of Congress. They were collectively ceding power to the Executive as a reaction to 9/11. Remember the war in Iraq? Remember Warrantless Wiretapping? This was both parties in Congress.
What I think angered me the most was that nobody else was doing anything about these injustices I was seeing. There was no real opposition from anyone.
And then came Barack Obama. All of a sudden, here was someone speaking directly to me about things that were making me so angry. He was this “Change” candidate that was telling me how things were going to be different. I was filled with so much “Hope” that I was donating my time and money and doing whatever I could to see him get elected.
When he won, I remember taking days off from work so I could watch his inauguration and his first few days. I was waiting to see Guantanamo closed and the Bush people brought to justice. But those few days were a bit disappointing to me. I remember thinking, ok, well he’s new, let’s give him time. But what ultimately happened was that Candidate Obama didn’t match up with President Obama very much. He gave away a lot to corporations to get the ACA passed and then he started killing Americans overseas with drones. The NSA got more brazen. It was kind of awful. I was genuinely confused as to what had happened.
What started then and continues to now is a realization that the two party system that I grew up with, along with the mantra of “Republicans are bad, always vote blue to elect Democrats” was not correct. That it could be possible that both parties were kind of two sides of the same coin. That instead of working for the people, they could very well be working for big money interests instead.
I had known about lobbyists. Remember, I grew up with a father who was a stage legislator. But I knew him pretty well and while he was lobbied all the time, at the core he made decisions that were focused on the well being of his constituents. It had never really occurred to me that Congress would be doing otherwise.
But they were doing otherwise. It was the only thing that made sense. Money in politics became a central theme in my thinking. Nothing could change unless we removed it and we couldn’t remove it with the current people in power because they all were corrupted. Somewhere along the line the Democrat/Republican theme became kind of irrelevant and what took over was Big Money/Corporations v. Citizens. When I look back with that lens it really becomes clear to me that we the people have been left behind a long time ago.
What I see now is that there are a lot of people who feel the way I do and they see what I see. And I also think they voted for Obama because they thought, like me, that he could change things. I think they also voted for Trump for the same reason (something I could have seen myself doing as well, but for various direct personal reasons I knew better).
Americans by and large are working people and they have been fucked over for quite some time and they want to see change happen. Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Elizabeth Warren. They all exist and are popular because they are speaking to those people. There is a commonality of all of their politics, it’s called Progressivism. It’s about speaking truth to the real power and fighting for the citizens instead of the big companies.
I subscribe wholeheartedly to this message of Progressivism. I believe that money has corrupted the entire American system to the point that it is completely off the rails. If we don’t do something soon, I believe all is lost.
Many would tell you that we should just keep fighting to make sure we get out the vote and hope that voting “blue no matter who” will solve everything. I don’t agree at all. The Democratic party has let us down again and again. Our leader in the House is known for two things: (1) she got the ACA passed (see above) and (2) she is one of the best fundraisers in the party. Do you know where all that money comes from? Large corporations.
The Democratic Party does not speak for us at all. For example, yesterday began the Democratic National Convention for 2020 and the official platform didn’t include Medicare For All, and doesn’t include a restriction on big money donors.
There are many, many other examples of how the party has abandoned the working families in this country and how they have supported wars and military spending over healthcare and the environment or how they haven’t fought hard enough for workers.
The time to leave the party is now.
The time to start a new one is now.
And next I will give you my thoughts on how we do it.