Thursday, July 31, 2008

Am I a Democrat?

That last post I did about the right-wing tendency to remove "ic" from the name of the Democratic Party got me thinking. People who read this blog might be under the mistaken impression that I am a Democrat.

In my younger days, I would have slapped anyone who dared try to associate me with the "corporate-controlled two party system." I would refuse to admit that there was any difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. And in the 2000 election, it really did seem that there was little difference between Gore and Bush. The progressive movement was building some pretty good third party steam with the Nader campaign. Being an ideological purist at the time, I voted for a candidate to the left of Nader who got 7,000 votes nationally.

But in the last 8 years, my political views have matured and evolved, and the country has gone down the crapper due to some really terrible governing by the Republican Party.

By 2004, seeing the utter devastation that the Bush administration had begun to wreak all over the world, most progressives abandoned the third parties and coalesced around attempting to move the Democratic Party to go on offense, as illustrated by Dean's insurgent campaign. When that campaign collapsed, Progressives united behind the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, even though we weren't happy about it, and Kerry was a terrible candidate.

I voted for Kerry, but I had to hold my nose to do it.

In 2008, the third party movement is still in shambles, because the differences between the Republican and Democratic parties are even more stark, and the consequences of electing John McCain would be absolutely devastating. Plus, for once, the Democrats have a really good candidate. Thus, most progressives are still voting for the Democrats and working to push the progressive agenda from within.

However, the fact remains that the Democratic Party would be considered a center-right party in Europe, and the Republican Party would be positioned as far-right nationalists and be led by neofascists (see the Front National of Le Pen in France). Those of us who actually are on the left side of the political spectrum constantly have to compromise our positions to vote Democratic, because we have no other choice. The political situation in this country has been shifted so far to the right by the corporate media empires of Rupert Murdoch and others that there really is no left left.

The point of all of this is to say that those of you who think I'm a Democrat (as in a member and full supporter of the Democratic Party) are mistaken. I am a social democrat (note the small "d") without a party to vote for. In France I would vote for the Parti Socialiste. In Canada I would vote for the New Democratic Party. In Germany I would vote for Die Linke. In Britain I would probably vote Liberal Democrat. In Israel I would vote Meretz-Yachad. But here in the United States I have no party that I can fully get behind and wholeheartedly support.

The only thing that I can do is to hope somehow that the progressives and social democrats in this country can take over the Democratic Party like the theofascists and corporatists did with the Republican Party so successfully.

Because, the fact is, that until we radically change our ballot and media access laws to create a fairer playing field, the other parties out there (especially on the left) have very little chance at making any difference at all. The one exception to this rule is the Libertarian Party, whose candidate may have an effect on this campaign in some key states, but the Libertarians are a bunch of rich ultra-capitalist asshats with gobs of money to throw around, so that's why they're as successful as they are.

So, no, I'm not a Democrat. I'm a social democrat without a party to vote for, so I vote Democratic because that's as close as it gets.