I like cake.
If I go to the bakery and ask for a cake, I would like to be sold a cake. I do not want to be sold a box labeled "CAKE" that contains only cake crumbs, or a slice of day-old white bread, or nothing.
The box is not what matters. The cake is what matters.
My participation on this site is posited on the premise that the Democratic Party is two things: an organization that stands for progressive values, and an organization within which there is room for dissent.
In both of these respects, the Democratic Party stands in stark opposition to the Republican Party.
Except when it doesn't.
That is, except when it fails to stand for the progressive values that constitute its entire platform, and except when it treats dissent as unwelcome.
The more the Democratic Party fails to stand for the progressive values in its own platform, the more like the Republican Party it becomes. And the more the Democratic Party treats dissent as unwelcome, the more like the Republican Party it becomes.
I have never believed that the Democratic Party was "no different" from the Republican Party. But I refuse to be a prisoner to binary, all-or-nothing thinking. It's also pertinent to ask, is the Democratic Party different enough? Not just different enough in platform, but different enough in practice. Not just in word, but in deed.
The Master said, "At first, when I dealt with others, I listened to their words and had faith in what they'd do. Now, when I deal with others, I listen to their words but observe what they do" (Analects 8:10).
It was Zai Yu who Confucius said taught him that; I learned that lesson from Barack Obama.
For many users on this site, this statement is sacrilege; for others, it's as plain as the emperor's nakedness.
I voted for Barack Obama twice in 2008: once in the primary, and once in the general election. It was the first time in my life (and I've been voting since 1988) that I felt like I could finally vote for a Democratic presidential candidate rather than merely against his opponent. I watched the "Yes, We Can" video and recognized it as propaganda -- exceptionally effective propaganda, in my case, because it was propaganda that I wanted, maybe needed, to believe. I drank the Kool-Aid like a man dying of thirst.
Then a federal law was passed requiring me to buy a product from a for-profit corporation or face tax penalties. The public education system I grew up in was attacked at its root. A climate-killing zombie pipeline continues to claw its way out of the grave, refusing to die. Card check is a fading memory. Drones still fly; Guantánamo still operates.
I voted for Barack Obama again in 2012, but that time, I was really voting against Mitt Romney.
More accurately, I was voting against the specter of right-wing authoritarianism that haunted us during the George W. Bush years and still, I'm convinced, lusts to replace our system of government with one it can control absolutely.
I don't want that to happen, so for now, I continue to vote for Democrats. But here's the thing: It doesn't matter to me whether this transformation happens overnight or in slow motion. I don't want it to happen at all. But if there is not a force within the Democratic Party that actively resists this transformation, not just in words but in deeds, it will happen anyway, in slow motion. If we want to stop it, this force must not only exist but must be the dominant force.
No one can claim with a straight face that this force is the dominant one in the Democratic Party right now, can they?
That is why I'm here. In 2004, I came to support Howard Dean over John Kerry. In 2008, I supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. In 2012, I supported Barack Obama's rhetoric over Barack Obama's record.
And now there are those who, once again, tell users like me that we must support Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic Party nomination for president, and that we are not real Democrats if we don't, and don't belong here.
Those users are trying to tell us that we should buy a box labeled "CAKE" and not concern ourselves with whether there is any cake inside.
To hell with that. I want cake. If you try to sell me a box labeled "CAKE" with no cake in it, I will go off in search of someone who will give me actual cake.
Because I am not a Democrat.
I am an American citizen who votes for Democrats.
And I demand better.