I have taken a lot of heat over my decision to leave the Democratic Party.
There have been pleas of “Come back! We need you!” But the party continues its slide to the right in an attempt to get voters who are far more conservative than the party’s traditional base.
This started in the 1980s, under Reagan. The word “liberal” became a curse and most Democrats abandoned it. Selfishness and greed became American values and there was no voice crying out for our values.
Reagan won a second term by asking “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Well, perhaps many of us were, but too many were not. Most of us had not yet begun to suffer from the diminishing rights of workers. It took a few years for the dismantling of unions to affect most of us.
The tough stance on crime was more of a tough stance on minority populations because that’s who’s urban and poor. Want proof? How about two forms of the same drug carrying vastly different punishments? Powdered cocaine is exactly the same, chemically, as crack, which is cheaper and so used more often by people with less money. This sent legions of young black and brown men to prison, where they lost their votes. Most were never re-enfranchised.
Democrats didn’t protest very much.
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Women, who finally won the right to make decisions regarding their own reproductive systems in the 1970s, began to see those rights infringed upon as the religious right demanded we all live by their standards, and Democrats said, “We have to respect people’s religious beliefs,” instead of “Our Constitution demands we respect your beliefs; it also demands that you can’t impose those beliefs on the rest of us.”
Republicans did all they could to vilify poverty and we Democrats did nothing to combat that. We could have told the stories of people working two and three jobs just to make ends meet, but we allowed the Republican Party to dismantle Aid to Families with Dependent Children and replacing it with TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), which is, as the name says, temporary. It carries with it unrealistic work requirements and offers little or no help digging out of poverty.
Since then, we have allowed incursions on funding for food assistance, education and every other strand of our social safety net because “some people just want a handout.”
We buried working Americans under mountains of debt and then blamed them because they couldn’t pay out-of-pocket for college or their cars or the everyday items they needed as their wages diminished.
And Democrats did nothing but repeat talking points about “personal responsibility.”
Health care became out of reach as insurance premiums soared and fewer people were able to even get insurance because of pre-existing conditions and the expense of both insurance and care skyrocketed. Every year, the company I worked with charged more for less, and Democrats did little to nothing. One former colleague told me she would have to take out a $5,000 loan if she or her child got sick, just to meet the deductible.
When the Democrats finally did something, they started negotiations to the right of center, choosing a plan developed by the right-wing Heritage Center and not even fighting for a public option or agreeing to take away the monopoly status the insurance companies still enjoy (unlike every other industry, they are exempt from antitrust laws). We didn’t even put price controls on Big Pharma.
We went into two illegal wars and most of the Democrats in Congress jumped on the bandwagon and voted for them because the American people thirsted for revenge against anyone who might have had anything to do with 9/11. But neither of those wars was against the state that had produced the terrorists (Saudi Arabia).
At every turn, the party has sided with the oligarchs. We’ve gone along to get along.
We didn’t prosecute war crimes.
Jesus Christ, we didn’t even prosecute war crimes.
And now we’re losing CHIP. That, for those of you who don’t know what the acronym stands for, takes access to health care away from 9 million children. Should they have to get jobs?
We caved and caved until things got so bad we allowed a toxic narcissist, a sexual predator, a pathological liar and racist, to enter the White House. The next in line for the White House is a “Christian,” with all the values of the Taliban, and right behind him is another “Christian” whose policies would cause hundreds of thousands of people to starve or die from perfectly curable illnesses.
Their bullpen is so deep we may never regain power.
But the Democrats continue to pander to the right, forcing Al Franken to resign while continuing to allow a sexual predator in the White House and the probable seating of a man who assaulted teenage girls while he was in his 30s. They talked us into shooting ourselves in the foot.
And before you start talking about zero-tolerance, please remember that it used to be the right that only saw black and white with no shades of gray. I was assaulted throughout my childhood and I have suffered a number of unwanted kisses as an adult. I can tell you there is no comparison, so stop comparing them.
Al Franken was stupid, but he has admitted his transgressions and apologized, and Democrats sent him packing anyway rather than face criticism from Republicans.
We have been played like a cheap violin, and I am done.
When Democrats introduce legislation to raise the minimum wage immediately to $18 and tie it to inflation, when they introduce a bill to take away the monopoly status of insurance companies and regulate pharmaceutical prices, when they start standing up for unions and women, when they at least protest the inhumane policies of the right, perhaps I’ll come back.
But today, I’m done.
I will work and vote for the better candidate who actually has a chance of winning — almost always a Democrat — but I no longer will affiliate with the party until its leadership grows a spine and starts fighting for the people again.