In answer to Alyosha Karamazov.
I guess I've always been a Democrat. My parents were, so were my grand parents.
But I also kept a bit of distance from the party for many years.
VietNam was primarily a Democratic Party bungle. Yes, I know that it started under Ike and the Dulles Brothers were not exactly core Democrats, but it was taken up by LBJ and you couldn't get any more core Democrat than that. Nixon, of course, took the VietNam war and made it his own, so it wasn't like changing to Republican would help (plus, Nixon was the enemy in my first political campaign, Kennedy in 1960!).
By the late 60s, both major parties were deeply ugly, but at least, on the home front, the Democrats had done things like Medicare and the Great Society, the Civil Rights act, et cetera, while the Republicans had set themselves up against such things and anything that remotely smelled of hippies. They became the anti-fun party, drastically raising the penalties for pot and even going after firecrackers! Nixon was such a sourpuss!
As the War wound down, I got involved with the anti-Nuke effort, the Clamshell Alliance and the effort to end nuclear power (we won the battle against nuclear power stations, no new ones have been built since the 70s, but we haven't yet won the war on ending nukes overall).
As part of that movement I was introduced to Greens from Europe that helped us get organized and for many years, I worked to build a Green Party USA. I still was registered as a Democrat and for the most part, voted Democrat, but particularly in local races, worked to get Greens elected.
From Nixon to Reagan to the Bushes, I developed an allergy to Republicans, particularly the Libertarian/Goldwater brand that Reagan flew with.
By the time Bush the Stupider came up, I was working my 4$$ off to prevent him from getting elected and my side project, the Greens made a fatal error. They got Ralph Nadir to run on their ticket. Notice that Nadir did not join the Greens, he just used them. Like a rented mule.
The Greens adopted Nadir's tag line "not a dime's worth of difference" (which he stole from George Wallace) and they harped on what I knew was a false equivalence for so long and so loudly that a lot of the Left's punditocracy started echoing it. Screw the evidence that this is completely false, it was a rallying cry for the misguided, marching the most promising Left-based Third Party out into the wilderness, where you can still see the dying remnants.
BushCheney was a disaster of international proportions, that started going bad before 9/11 and went downhill, fast, ending in total economic meltdown right at the end.
The Dems were not in position to resist the surge of partisanship and unconstitutional power grabs of the Executive and Tom DeLay's parliamentary tactics. When the House went to Pelosi in 2006, things started to turn around a little. The Democrats controlled Congress for BushCheney's last two years but, unfortunately, the damage had been done, there was little the Dems could do about the worst of the problems: Two wars raging, deficits soaring, the Safety Net slashed to ribbons... But they tried.
When Obama ran, I didn't give him much of a chance (I mean, really, an unknown black man following BushCheney?). I thought John Edwards would have been an excellent president (little did I know). But I campaigned for him once he was the Nominee. My hopes were not overly optimistic, particularly since he was about to be handed to biggest bag of sh!t imaginable.
But once he took office and Nancy and Harry got Congress working, they produced, in two short years, the most progressive period of legislation in 40 years. From Day One: Lily Ledbetter, withdrawal from Iraq, DOMA, DADT...
Basically, it boils down to this: Republicans stand for the rich, mostly white, establishment, for selfishness and division. Democrats stand for the rest of us, for fairness, for decent treatment of the unfortunate, for inclusiveness.
I stand with the Democrats.