Before I get into my rant, let me put this on the table. I have identified as a Democrat since the presidential election in 1960. I became a card carrying member of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin when I worked on the Todd Kolosso’s campaign to defeat Representative Jim Sensenbrenner in 2010.
Senator Sanders says his goal is to open up the Democratic Party to the millions of people who want to participate. There’s a couple of different ways to take that but at least one of them is down right silly. I will try to outline what I see them as being.
First, the Democratic Party isn’t a private yacht club or country club. You don’t have to be sponsored by a current member to get in. All you have to do is join…pay your dues…and you are in. They send you a card, bury you in emails, beg for money, let you know when the locals meet and invite you to participate in the state convention…and national convention. Every one of the millions that Sen. Sanders says want to participate…they can start today. To claim otherwise is just plain silly. Join the party.
Second, if he is referring to the closed primaries and closed caucuses…yes that is a little bit different. Those are party functions and the state party organizations get to decide those rules. It isn’t a top down directive from that nasty old DNC to do it one way or another. And yes some people weren’t able to vote because of party rules. But those can be changed…by party members. And some of those rules are state election laws…get like minded people elected. Join the party.
You don’t like closed primaries, states that require party identification months in advance, or super delegates? These can all be changed. Join the party.
You think the Democratic Party isn’t viable? Didn’t Sen. Sanders, after 36 years as an independent, run as a Democrat? Why do you suppose that is? Would he have gotten the press attention if he ran as a third party? Would he have been able to make his points or reach his audience if he didn’t have access to the Democratic debates? How did that work out for him? He reached a pinnacle that was totally a surprise to most everyone. And before you tell me you can’t compromise your principles to join the party…didn’t Sen. Sanders do exactly that?
You have four years to change the things you don’t like before the 2020 elections. No, you won’t get all of your issues resolved in that time. It is going to take a while to get into local party politics and get into a position to have influence. But it isn’t impossible. It can happen fairly quickly if you have the energy to keep after it. The party is ripe for change.
Need some roadmaps on how this works?
Look to the Tea Party domination of the Republican Party in a relatively short time. See how the Wisconsin Tea Party GOP has destroyed a century of Wisconsin progressivism in six short years.
Look to the Sanders’ campaign in 2016. It came from nearly no where to prominence. You have a network of like minded people with similar thoughts and aspirations to build on. You are already half way there, you just need to join the party and work your magic.
I had a lot more cool things to say but between lunch time when I was mulling them over and now when I am writing, but they have slipped away. If they resurface I will add them to the comments or append them below.
But one last thing. I don’t know if Sen. Sanders was naïve or just playing for sympathy during the campaign. But the many things he brought up as wrong or roadblocks or issues or rigged in the primaries have been in place for years. If he wasn’t aware of them or ignored them…I can’t fathom. That would be poor planning and poor management. Or maybe they only became an issue once he had a chance at the nomination. But if you don’t like those things, they can be changed.
But if you want to push the party to a more progressive position, now is the time to get involved. Join the party, because there won’t be the change you want if you just continue to snipe from the fringe.