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Monday, June 13, 2016

Purity tests

It's been nearly a week since the California primary and at the time I was writing this there were still some votes not counted (roughly 20% of all the votes cast), and although Bernie Sanders has picked up some additional votes and delegates, he's not going to flip the state.

This past week I've seen fellow progressives turn on Elizabeth Warren, who up till now was seen as one of the bright shining lights of the Democratic party.  She's a villain now because she came out and supported Clinton. 

She tries to explain herself here: 



Personally it makes sense to me.   Warren may be a "liberal" but she is still a Democrat (and so, technically, I'm I) but Warren is first and foremost a Democrat.  She's supporting the ticket.

For many of the so called "Bernie or Bust" crowd this is seen as a sell out.  Time will tell if it hurts her politically or not but Warren is a smart woman and a former lawyer.  I'm sure she did the math and probably figures that in order for Clinton to win over the 30 to 40% of the party that is against her she'll need a strong liberal behind her.  

And that will lead to a future run for the POTUS or a possible VP spot. 

Which brings me to the crux of this article.

I may agree with many of the core of the so called "Bernie or Bust" movement.   To quote Thomas Jefferson; "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."  For me, all forms of government become corrupt over time.  It is in our human nature to want to protect the status quo. To prevent change...however at the same time change is necessary.  Thus we need a "storm" now and again.

Our government is no longer a democracy but a plutocracy.  I've given my reasons I can not vote for Ms. Clinton before, because I still feel that a "little rebellion now and then is a good thing."  To shake up the party, to bring change is beneficial.

What I am seeing right now in some of my Bernie or Busters is a "purity test" of sorts.  If you don't support X then you must be against us.  If you don't support Y then you must be against us.

The problem with this is very, very simple.   It was not that long ago that many in the Tea Party were calling party establishment people "RINO's" or "Republicans in Name Only."  That lead to the Republican party shifting to the hard right and lead to the current obstructionism that we are seeing today. 

This Republican purity to "traditional conservative values" has lead to the state of Kansas to become bankrupt since they have cut taxes to a point where they can no longer afford to keep even basic things like schools open.

In my adopted state of Florida it has lead to our Governor to battle not only his fellow Republicans but Democrats as well on such things as climate change (Florida is on the front line of climate change and many Republicans here go against the party's official line).   

Blindly following a political agenda in the name of "purity" can only lead to disaster.  The world is not a black and white place but full of interesting greys.  If your not willing to accept or at least listen to an opposing viewpoint, then we risk using the term "LINO's" and leading the Democratic party into the mire that the Tea Party lead the Republican's into. 

We don't need a liberal version of Donald Trump. 

Now that being said please note that I"m NOT changing my views.  I am still supporting Bernie Sanders and the movement he started.  I am still NOT voting for Hillary. 

All I'm asking is that you read your history.  Study some to avoid the mistakes made in the past.  I worry when I see calls for a "Peoples Party" because history has shown us that a "Peoples Party" really isn't for the people...it's for purity.  Then you can have only so many "pure believers" and that leads to tyranny.

Isn't that what we are supposedly fighting against? 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

An open letter to the Democratic party

So it's over.

I am still a supporter of Bernie Sanders.   As I sit here a day or so after the final primaries, I have to re-evaluate my support.

You see dear DNC, I'm 50 years old.  I've been voting Democrat for as long as I can remember.  Only twice did I ever question my support for the party.   I voted for Nader in 2000 because I did not think Gore (or any of the Democratic choices that year) were good choices for the party.   It was a protest vote more than anything.

Now before you start to to complain that I cost Gore the election, please remember that the man did not win his home state of Tennessee, if he had then Florida really would not have mattered.   The party really did not give any choice in 2004...after 4 years of Bush the writing was pretty much on the wall that this man would be one of the worst Presidents ever.   Still though....your choice to run against him, shall we say, was found lacking.  I voted with my party that year...and it turned my stomach to do so.

Obama started off with such promise and Progressives like me hoped he would do much more than he did.  However in the last eight years he's been handcuffed.   The Republicans of course are to blame for the most part as they obstructed his agenda at every turn. Some people inside the Democratic party did not help either.

Still though, he accomplished much and earned a lot of love and respect.

Which brings us to Hillary.  Please don't understand me my beloved Democratic party.   I understand that she is a masterful politician.   An experienced leader and a crafty lawyer.   Please understand that my support of Sanders had nothing to do with her being a woman.

It had everything to do with her being the wrong choice to lead the party into the future.

For me it started with a simple belief.  That the White House is not a gift to be given from Husband to Wife or from Father to Son.   Really, do we not remember what happened when it passed from Father to Son?  In the 90's things were not bad under Bill Clinton, but the man had a lot of scandals and a lot of baggage.  One of the reasons I could not support Hillary was because I could see her being impeached.  I could see the Congress and Republican party continuing to be obstructionist.

In case you have not noticed, the American people are very, very angry over the lack of caring or progress in Washington.  The "same old thing" simply will not do.

Bernie Sanders caught fire slowly and that was part of his problem, by the time he started to gain momentum it was nearly impossible to catch HRC.  Still though it was a good fight, but I heard many of the established Democrats sounding like Republicans in their opposition of him once he started to be a threat.

I believe it was a Democratic Senator from Maine that questioned his "Free stuff" that was offered as part of Bernie Sander's platform.   I could be wrong on the state and who said it but I remember thinking how the Republicans were saying the same thing.  I remember thinking how our party was becoming "Republican light."

Then there is the question of the closed primaries.  Again I understand the history of a closed primary and why it exists, but when over 40% of the American population is locked out of the process till November...we have to question if this is the best way to elect someone to run for the highest office in the land.   The number of Democrats in the United States is slowing falling, we only make up 26% of the voting population.   Not listening to four out of every ten Americans does not make any sense.   Nor are we exactly attracting new people to the party.

Bernie Sanders brought in a lot of young people, who are feeling cheated and disillusioned by what they see as a corrupt Democratic party.  They may not historically vote at 18 and 22...but they do vote later, and the party missed a wonderful chance to bring them into the fold.

Which brings me to the super delegates.  A system that was originally designed to protect the working party faithful from outsiders.  It worked very well in its original form, guaranteeing those faithful a voice in the party.  It's existed in one from or another since the 1970's and generally not come into play.

Until Hillary.   Who made a big deal of claiming 500 and so of them early in the race.  This gave the perception that the race was rigged from the beginning.   Even if it was not meant to give that perception, it did and in the 21st century perception is everything. 

I also wish the party would have made some obscure rules and complex voting procedures easier to understand.   The idea of voter fraud and the stink of voter suppression now follows the Democratic party.  If the party would simply state..."We're going to investigate this" or "We are going to fix this" then that may have muted the impression that Clinton somehow "cheated" her way into the nomination. 

We both know Trump is going to play that card. 

Speaking of the Donald.  I understand the danger of Trump, although I think he is crazy like a fox and not to be underestimated.  He is a master manipulator that understands the irrationally of people, and that they "buy" on emotion.  He will dismantle her piece by piece because he understands her baggage is something to be used against her.

He's already started by reinforcing the belief that she cheated her way to the nomination with hashtags like #cheatinghillary.  While Hillary may have been able to survive the attacks of a traditional Republican, you gave a slimy salesman named Donald Trump ammunition like her continuing email scandal, her various "mistakes" made through out her career, the money from foreign nationals.  He is not a traditional Republican and will dismantle her using that ammunition.

Sadly I know many otherwise rational people that intend to vote for Trump simply because he is a hammer and Washington is the nail.

I know that Hillary won more votes than Bernie Sanders did in the various primaries.  I respectfully disagree with that majority of my fellow Democrats.  I'm sure many of them had their reasons for voting the way they did and I respect that.  I would hope that I am respected for voting the way I did.  However for me voting for Hillary is voting for the lesser of two evils.

When you vote for the "lesser of two evils" you are still voting for evil.

America has real problems and we need serious change.  The Affordable Care Act did not control the costs of medical care.  This is a problem that needs addressed now, not later.   Wages have been stagnant for the last 15 years, again this is something that needs addressed now.   The student debt that hangs over many American heads is going to blow up and that needs addressed now.   We have roads that are falling apart. 

For those reasons when you ask me to vote for Hillary your asking me to vote from gridlock.  We have had enough gridlock.

When you actually believe in this country, you want to vote for something you believe in.  You want to bring about real change. We Sander supporters want to avoid falling back into the mire that got us into this mess. We asked ourselves a simple question "Is this the best we can do?"

Many of us answered NO, then got to work to change the system. Voting for the person that promises real change. We all understood it was an uphill battle and would take time and that it would be full of setbacks.

For these reasons...I can not support Hillary Clinton.

I will vote for progressive Democrats.  I will work to change the system.  I will vote for Jill Stein in the Green Party because I want to promote a progressive agenda. 

This is not just emotion...this is who I am.  I am a proud progressive.  I will continue to fight for what I believe in.  So do not ask me to support a party that no longer supports my beliefs.