“What happens to one of us, affects us all.”
From the movie Desert Flower, the story of Waris Dirie
I became a Democrat on July 12, 1960.
I have been a party faithful for over fifty years. I have fought to secure equal rights for minorities and women, I have helped feed and cloth needy people in ghettos, I have marched against the Vietnam War, I have advocated Democratic principles and I have supported Democratic candidates, and I have voted a straight party line since the day I was old enough to vote.
Yet during Barack Obama’s presidency – a man I once believed in – I became persona non grata (to fellow Democrats on the Daily Kos) because I objected to many of his policies. I have been cursed, mocked, ignored, and told to move on over to Firedoglake because my opinions were no longer welcome here. When I pointed out that I was supporting traditional Democratic values, I was told that Barack Obama was the Democratic Party and I needed to shut up and fall in line.
So, now, after three and a half years of being told I am a troll, I am faced with a terrible dilemma: if I no longer belong to the Democratic Party, then where do I belong?
To the Republican Party? Nope, never. Not gonna happen.
Does it mean I have to vote for Romney? Not in this lifetime.
I have been told I have to choose between the lesser of two evils because there is no other choice. That is a myopic decision I refuse to accept because either I fight for the principles I believe in, or I’m just a hypocrite, and God knows there is no shortage of people in the Democratic Party who talk out of both sides of their mouths.
The decision to post this diary was difficult because it will earn more abuse than I want to endure. And that is painful because I suffered enough of that behavior to last me a lifetime when I fought to help African Americans win their equal rights.
I’m posting this diary because I still believe in Democratic values, and because, like Van Jones, I believe the recall defeat in Wisconsin was a wake up call for all Democrats.
All things considered, Jones said he is glad the defeat happened when it did. “I’m glad this is an alarm clock — it sounds like a fire alarm — but I’m glad it’s going off in June, and not in November,” he said. “I think there were a lot of progressives who looked at the Republican party and fell down laughing at what looked like the Three Stooges, and also looked at the jobs numbers, which were getting better, and were saying literally a week ago, ‘Obama’s got it in the bag.’ I’m sad about the outcome, but I’m glad we got the wake-up call. Our opponents are serious.”I have no faith that the current leaders of the Democratic Party are listening, just like they didn’t listen in the days prior to the 2010 debacle. But I will state my case and hope there are others like me who are willing to confront the people inside the party who have led us down a dark path.
And before you attack me for writing this, remember, you have the right to disagree, but you don’t have the right to tell me I’m not a Democrat just because I disagree with the President’s decision to hand over the economy to a few Republicans and Wall Street insiders; and don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I wanted him to fill his administration with Democrats, not Republicans. And don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I wanted Obama to adopt an open door policy toward Progressives instead of creating a revolving door at the White House for Republicans and Wall Street insiders. Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I am angry with the President for barring Democratic Senators from viewing the details of the trade agreement he is hammering out behind closed doors with the head of Halliburton.
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I want him to veto the Keystone pipeline project. He knows better than anyone else that our planet is facing an imminent catastrophic collapse, but despite the volumes of information at his disposal, he has chosen to ignore environmentalists, while implementing the policies of energy companies, and Monsanto, and a host of other entities that are destroying our planet.
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I want him to end the Afghanistan war, a struggle that has killed too many of our soldiers, most for a cause that is no longer justifiable (many of them by their own hand).
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I want the criminals on Wall Street - who caused this terrible financial disaster - to be held accountable for their crimes. The President has made them wealthier than they could have ever imagined, and now they are using that wealth to destroy us.
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I want to him to assure people my age that Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid will be secure. Many of us reacted in horror when he placed those programs on the negotiating table.
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I want him to support the unions. If they are defeated, then all laborers can expect salaries and workplace securities to diminish. If the President is too busy to fight for constituents at the bottom rung of the ladder – and these are the same people who contributed and sacrificed so much to get him elected - then he doesn’t deserve to be reelected.
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I want our President to protect our liberties and individual freedoms. His decision to prosecute whistle blowers instead of the criminals who have been exposed is disgusting. And his efforts to shut down OWS protesters looks more like the actions of the Russian leaders than those of a Democratic leader.
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat because I want Obama to stop killing innocent women and children. When he made the decision to designate children as acceptable collateral damage, he lost his way. Six years ago, when G.W. Bush was torturing and killing innocent people, Democrats screamed for justice, but now that Obama is building on Bush’s policies, his followers are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to justify his actions.
Don’t tell me I’m not a Democrat when I want this President to honor the commitments he made to his constituents. The greatest weapon a man owns is his word, and if he can’t honor that, then he is powerless to defeat corruption.
This President has made many other mistakes, and it is up to the Democrats who elected him to hold him accountable for his failures. For a long time, I have not posted diaries because it wasn’t worth the abuse it created; his followers were so mean and nasty, no one wanted to listen to their contempt. And many of the best writers on this site left because of that abuse, but I can no longer ignore what is happening to the Democratic Party. My conscience tells me it is my duty to confront corruption wherever it occurs, even if it comes from within the Democratic Party.
If you are slamming other Democrats for voicing an opinion you disagree with, then shame on you. You are no better than the Republicans. Democracy includes all voices, not just yours.
If you are unwilling to hold this President accountable for protecting wealthy donors instead of defending poor people who helped elect him, then shame on you. That is not a Democratic value. Look around you: there are millions of children going to bed hungry each night (while the bankers are stealing their houses). When we needed this President to fight for the people at the bottom rung of the ladder, he turned his back. As Paul Krugman said, “If you don’t know multiple people who are suffering, then you must be living in a very rarefied environment.”
Is this the Democratic Party you believe in? Really? We have gotten so far off base, I no longer recognize the party.
To risk going into the November elections with a disillusioned base is an invitation to reap the same results as we produced in the 2010 elections, but the people on this site continue to threaten other Progressives for not supporting the President. Do you really believe that will motivate them to vote? If you want them to become involved, then address their complaints; don’t try bullying them into voting. If Democrats had the courage to confront this President and force him to listen - which by all accounts seems to be a difficult task - then maybe there is time to reunite the Party’s base before November, but to pretend that a split party doesn’t make a difference and that the President will win reelection easily is foolish.
The Democratic Party is not Barack Obama. It is not about the gay/lesbian community; it is not about the African American community, and the Hispanic community does not define it - although we embrace members of all of those groups. The Democratic Party includes millions of elderly people who are struggling to pay medical bills, it includes union workers who are trying to protect their salaries and benefits so they can feed and clothe their families. It includes teachers, firefighters, environmentalists, peace activists, single mothers, OWS members, and just about anyone else who doesn’t fit into the narrow worldview of the Republicans.
We need each other.
No matter how much you hate me for posting this diary, you still need me, and you still need the millions of Democrats, who like me, are disillusioned with the President’s policies. So, stop attacking the Progressives who are trying to hold him accountable and listen to what they are saying. Most of them are crying out for help. And shame on you for trying to silence their voices. I want to believe that Democrats are better than that.
One of the most disturbing comments I have read – and I have heard this comment repeated by many of my Democratic friends – that maybe it’s time to sit out the election and let the Republicans burn the house down and rebuild the Democratic Party later. That is a scenario that is too scary to contemplate, but it is real. Many of you say you’re pragmatic, and yet you don’t seem to understand that desertion is what you should expect when you have leaders who say, “Where else are they going to go?”
“What happens to one of us, affects us all.”