I’m not a Democrat.
Even though I’ve voted for far more Democrats in my life than Republicans, I still consider myself a political independent. By the way, let me include Libertarians and Green Party candidates in there as well.
Given that I’m admittedly left-of-center and that I just spent the last six months volunteering for the Obama campaign, you might think it inauthentic on my part to insist that I’m not a Democrat.
Even so, I am not associated with any political party. I voted in the GOP primaries in 2008 because I believed that my vote would be better served by voting for John McCain than participating in the Democratic party’s 2008 Florida-Michigan debacle. Moreover, when I voted in the primary, I was unsure where my loyalties would lie on election day in November. At the time, I believed Obama and McCain were the strongest candidates so I cast my vote for McCain, hoping in vain that Mitt Romney would not carry the Mitten.
I didn’t get my immediate wish, but Obama and McCain did show-down for the presidency in the end.
In the years since, I’ve solidified my stance as a political leftist. However, I first and foremost remain a pragmatic. I don’t believe in mindlessly touting ideology when our country is better served by communitarian pragmatism. After all, I think the majority of us want the same things for our country and for one another: Prosperity, economic opportunity, freedom of self-determination? The question should be, though it is not always, about the means rather than the ends.
While a lot of people are cynical about our political process (myself included), getting to talk to actual voters rather than simply listening to our 24 hour news cycle does wonders to combat this.
In a period of six months or so, I only had two bad experiences talking to voters – and they were both within about five minutes of one another. Most people recognize that you are sacrificing your free time to do something that you really believe in – the same would have been true had I been canvassing for the opposing party.
I consider myself first and foremost interested in the well-being of the country as a whole; this supersedes identifying myself as a Democrat or a Republican. I just happen to think that Democrats offer the best way forward at the moment.
At the same time there are many things I would like to see the Democratic Party do: How about end the war in Afghanistan? Maybe stand up for the people of Palestine? OK, what about real education reform? Universal healthcare, possibly?
I once was a Republican and now I see; I see that political parties are first and foremost interested in advancing their candidates and attaining majorities; they are secondly concerned with the welfare of the country.
I am pleased that Democrats did so well in the last election – but the election is over and we have two years to go before the next one. Victories must be earned and I hope that the Democrats we’ve just worked to elect will prove themselves worthy when they are up for reelection – on all of our behalves, not just for those who voted for them.