Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why I Am Not a Democrat

Once upon a time, I identified as a Democrat. Then I realized Democrats are just as right wing as Republicans, just as war prone, just as authoritarian, and just as servile to big business. It's not a choice between being a Democrat, a Republican, or a moderate; it's a choice between being a Democrat, a Republican, a moderate, or someone with a principled ideology (Say, a leftist, socialist, anarchist, traditional conservative, or libertarian).

Don't believe Democrats are similar to Republicans? Well, ask yourself, whose administration uses cluster bombs as part of a secret war in Yemen? Whose administration increased deportations of immigrants? Whose administration has been using drone attacks as part of an undeclared war in Pakistan? Whose administration re-authorized the Patriot Act, which gives federal agents the power to write their own secret extra-judicial warrants? Under whose administration has the FBI harassed anti-war activists? Who promised to run the most transparent White House in history, but then presided over the inhumane detention of an alleged whistleblower? Whose Solicitor General worked successfully to prevent death row inmates from accessing DNA evidence which could prove them innocent? Who appointed a former executive from insurance giant WellPoint to control health care policy, while proclaiming it a victory over corporate interests? Whose administration expanded America's military presence in Colombia in spite of serious human rights concerns? Whose administration used the state secrets privilege to prevent torture victims from suing their torturers? Whose administration continues to carry out renditions, in which terror suspects are secretly kidnapped and detained in other countries? Whose administration successfully denied habeas corpus rights to detainees at Bagram Prison? Whose administration threatened Britain in order suppress investigation of Bush era torture? Whose administration asserts the authority to kill American citizens outside of a war zone with no judicial process?

If you guessed Barack Obama, you're right! And before you say that this is just one Democratic President, consider that the previous Democratic president, Bill Clinton, ordered the bombing of a Somalian pharmaceutical factory, causing the suffering and death of thousands. Likewise, Clinton's sanctions on Iraq are estimated by Unicef to have killed around 500,000 children. Indeed, Democratic presidents such as FDR, Woodrow Wilson, and even the often praised JFK, promoted incredibly deadly wars. Thaddeus Russell explained it quite well in his piece Why Liberals Kill, writing "Though opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cheered loudly when Obama spoke reverentially in his campaign speeches of Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy, those heroes of the president promoted and oversaw U.S. involvement in wars that killed, by great magnitudes, more Americans and foreign civilians than all the modern Republican military operations combined."

If we wish to stop war crimes and protect liberty and peace, we won't do it through political parties. Align yourself not with parties but with ideals, and then you can work consistently to stop these sorts of atrocities.


  1. Have you heard of Bernie Sanders? He is a U.S. Senator from Vermont, a Democrat - and, he is the first person elected to the U.S. Senate to identify as a socialist. The Democratic Socialists of America have an interesting article about this that you might (but, of course, don't have to agree with!) :]

    Here is a link to it:

    And a good, pertinent excerpt:

    "... Gramsci believed that the dominance of capitalist modes of thought could be countered by a conscious, “counter hegemonic,” leftist cultural presence throughout civil society. The left would have to organize not only in the formal political arena, but also in the workplace, the neighborhood, the church, and the PTA. Though those who hold electoral state power set Rosa Luxemburg, socialist leader
    Antonio Gramsci, theorist of hegemony the boundaries within which political struggle occurs, organizing in civil society (at the grassroots) is critical for the growth of the left. Cultural, educational, and ideological work is as “political” as are elections. In order to affect state power and to change the balance of forces in civil society, democratic socialists believe it is necessary to work both in electoral politics and in community and trade union organizing.

    In light of the peculiar structure of the American political system (the absence of proportional representation; the absence of coalition governments because of an executive rather than parliamentary system; open party membership and open primaries; single district, winner-take-all electoral districts), most progressive forces, when doing electoral work, pragmatically choose to work in the left wing of the Democratic Party. Hence, electoral class conflict runs through the Democratic Party, not around it."

  2. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment and the insightful link.

    I understand the appeal of working through the Democratic Party, and there are even some Democratic congresscritters I would work to support(Feingold and Kucinich come to mind), but after watching Democratic administrations advance the wrong positions on the issues I care most about (Civil liberties and war), I have decided that advocacy on specific issues is a far more effective use of resources than most electoral work can ever be. My opinions are more fully fleshed out in this post: