For the longest time, there was an addressed, but unstamped, envelope sitting on my kitchen counter. About three weeks ago, it finally got dropped in the mail, and after years of avowed “independence” with regards to political parties, I am, as of last week or so, officially a Democrat.
Maybe to some this has been a long expected move — or perhaps a surprise that it wasn’t already done. But it took a lot of soul searching to do it. I had a knee-jerk reaction after the election and though about doing it then, but realised that would be a dumb reaction. I actually filled out the form and thought about mailing it in after Independence Day — with the symbolism of ‘rejecting my independent status’ vivid in my mind — but waited. When O’Connor announced her resignation, I had the thoughts again, but held back.
I don’t want to say that an act of God like Katrina and the blunders that followed which made me do it, and I am not sure they did, but shortly thereafter, I just felt like it was the right time.
Now, I have to be honest. Such a decision doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t ever vote for Republicans. I still consider myself middle of the road. Nor was this decision a reaction to GWB — at least not directly. It stems from the fact that the GOP itself has shifted so far to the right that “middle of the road” has shifted too. To be somewhere “middle of the road” between the left and today’s GOP is much further to the right than it used to be.
Today’s “middle” might be Repubs Voinovich, Chafee or the Dem Lieberman. Neocon bastions within the GOP already lambast John McCain and anyone from the GOP who might sympathise with the “Gang of Fourteen”. Meanwhile, even Pat Buchanan, whom some once considered more radical — and may still — is calling for Bush’s impeachment. This is a pretty good indication that there has been quite a shift in the GOP paradigm.
The new neocon-run GOP has totally backed away from its traditional virtues of small government, fiscal responsibility, individual privacy and benign foreign policy, despite the last of these being particularly espoused in Bush’s first inaugural speech. Years ago, my biggest fears about the GOP were “guns, tobacco, and the religious right”… and really it’s quite frightening to think that only one of those particularly scares me anymore.
The “old middle” now exists within the realms of the “left”… but it is the ever-fragmented left which needs to unify and welcome those disillusioned and politically abandoned persons. This is why I finally made the move to join the Democratic party. It was not (solely) a reaction to this President, nor necessarily his blunders over the past 4 1/2 years. It is a reaction against the overall political shift within the GOP which threatens not just left and right, but the nation as a whole.
I never joined a political party in the past, because I was quite dissatisfied with both. Now, however, I felt that if I really want to help thwart what I find to be a potentially destabilising force within American politics, I had to chose sides.
I’m a little nervous, but it feels good to be blue.