A progressive Independent since I received the franchise over 20 years ago, I recently joined the Democratic Party because of Howard Dean.
I haven't left, but it does give me a different perspective than most die-hard Democrats.
They can be summed up by my answer to the question in the title.
What fight are we fighting?
This is actually a bunch of questions, all rolled together.
First, who are we fighting? My personal answer to that is "the hard-right radical wing of the Republican Party". I'd personally prefer a multi-party system, but I'm not willing to emigrate to get it, so I view a "loyal opposition" essential to the correct functioning of our democracy.
Second, what are the desired outcomes? My personal short term goals are:
- Replacing George Bush with a Democrat. (Obviously, this will be John Kerry unless something truly bizarre happens.)
- Destroying Tom DeLay as a political force. At least part of that is going after House seats that the Dems can win. I'm doubtful that we'll switch the House in 2004. I don't want to wait until 2006 and it isn't enough for me that DeLay still control the Republican contingent.
- Switching the Senate to Democratic control. Many reasons for this. First, the Senate approves presidential nominations in its advise and consent role. Second, the balance is closer, so it seems more "doable". Third, several Republican Senators have either never climbed onto or jumped off of the Bush/Frist bandwagon.
Third, who aren't we fighting?. This is probably my biggest divergence from long-time Democrats. I don't think the GOP is the party of evil. I think it has come to be dominated by evil people. Outside of some fairly well-defined constituencies (the religious right and the rich), most Republicans agree with most Democrats on the vast majority of issues. And I think many of them can be shown how bad Bush is for them and their families, for the country as a whole, and for the long-term relevance of core Republican principles.
I also include people like Snow and Chafee in that list. I see them as principled opposition, not inherently evil.
Same with "Reagan Democrat" voters. I didn't like Reagan much. I think he was a horrible president. But I can accept that others saw him differently. George Bush is no Ronald Reagan and I think that is becoming more and more obvious with every passing day.