An Open Letter to Democratic Party "Regulars"
by Zvi Baranoff
The Democratic Party's unofficial slogan - We Are NOT Republicans - really is not appealing enough on it's own to get my whole-hearted support. I am an independent, free thinking person. I'm a lower case "d" democrat. Democracy is a pretty good idea all told and in a more perfect world perhaps the Democratic Party would reflect democratic values in a way which would encourage me to be a upper case "D" Democrat, but that's just not the way it is. In the world as it is, the Democratic Party is an odd coalition and I am, uncomfortably at times, an on again, off again, member of that coalition.
I am currently registered as a Democrat and I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Oregon Primary. I like Bernie and respect Bernie. If Bernie Sanders gets the Democratic nomination I will certainly be a passionate supporter and probably vote for most of the Democratic ticket as well. If things turn out differently, I will keep my options open. Bernie Sanders may influence my vote but he will not control it.
The pundits and analysts do not seem to understand either Bernie Sanders or the nature of his supporters. Try as you might to write Bernie Sanders off as some sort of Utopian, but he is not. Sanders is strategic and pragmatic. I am a Sanders supporter but I am not particularly pragmatic. I am a Utopian and perhaps quite a few other Sanders supporters are Utopians as well.
The Sanders campaign has stirred me enough to catch my interest and give me hope for political progress but as a Utopian my loyalty to strategy will only go so far. My support for Sanders is contingent and nontransferable. The Democratic Party wants my vote, but cannot simply assume to have it. I need to be convinced one election at a time. I have other choices. Utopians have the freedom to act unpredictably, disconnected as we may be from pragmatism. We are motivated by passion and vision. And we are a disorganized element with no leadership. I can speak only for myself because that is what it is like to be an independent, free thinking individual.
I do understand that in the upcoming general election, the next person elected President of the United States will be the person at the top of either the Democratic or the Republican ticket. I am pragmatic enough to know that the "Not Republican" is probably a better option than the Republican. That said, we survived Republican administrations before and four years of Trump would certainly be unfortunate but it would not be the end of the world.
Is the Democratic Party pragmatic enough to understand they have no lock on my vote? I won't be voting for Trump but I always have other choices than voting for the lesser evil. I could just stay home and bake cookies. That's an option you know. Or I could join together with other independent, free thinking individuals and actively rock the vote by supporting an alternative to the Two Parties That Are One. When it is time to place the final bets for this election, how much is the Democratic Party willing to gamble that folks like me will fall in line?
When the Democratic Convention takes place in Philadelphia neither of the two candidates will have enough elected delegates to gain the nomination. Super Delegates are faster than a speeding bullet and can leap tall buildings with a single bound. The Super Delegates will decide which candidate will be at the top of the ticket. The American voters however will choose who is elected in the General Election come November and the Democratic Party cannot win without the support of a significant number of independent voters.
Democratic Party Regulars, you don't know me and probably don't know many like me. Certainly you don't think about folks like myself often, if at all, but you really should. Independent, free thinking individuals ultimately make or break any organization and independent, free thinking individuals determine the outcome of elections...and there are millions of us!
So the Democratic Delegates will meet in Philly - elected Delegates and Super Delegates - but there will also be the Delegation of the People in the streets and the Democratic Party would be wise to pay serious attention to that unelected, self-appointed Delegation of independent, free thinking individuals because they may be the Delegates that ultimately count the most. The Super Delegates can help choose Bernie Sanders to lead the Democratic Party through the election, win the Presidency, gain control of the Senate and improve the Party's position in the House. Or they can place a dangerous bet that may backfire beyond the Party's worst nightmares. The Delegation of the People will be there to remind the Super Delegates - all upper case "D" Democrats - that they need the lower case "d" democrats with them in November.
Democratic Party Regulars, you need to get out your best divination tools and conjure up the spirit of the ultimate insider and true Machiavellian, Lyndon Johnson, because LBJ understood how to build winning coalitions and learned firsthand what happens when a coalition unravels. Here is the question to ask the ghost of LBJ; Concerning the unaffiliated, the independents, the outsiders, the rabble, is it better to have these people inside the tent pissing out or outside the tent pissing in?
LBJ knew all about the big tent and what it feels like when folks like me decide to stay out and piss in. That is how his administration came to it's unfortunate end. That was a long time ago but as Democratic Party Regulars, you must surly know your own history. Now is the time to determine your future. Philadelphia may be the sight of a great Democratic Party or it might just turn into a pissing contest. It is really a matter of choice.
See you in Philadelphia.