occasional blog posts & opinion pieces by desrowVISUALS photographer Chris Goodwin
A Temporary Democrat For Bernie - published in the Boulder Daily Camera 11/8/15
I did something the other day that I did not imagine I would ever do, I became a Democrat again. Or at least, I registered to vote Democrat. Just like more than one third of the registered voters here in Colorado, the largest bloc of voters in the state by the way, I had been unaffiliated, not registered with any political party. My view of the Democratic Party hasn’t really changed though. I think it remains a seriously flawed, even corrupt party, dominated by corporate money and politicians who chase the corporate money, just like the Republicans. Yes there are sometimes, individual candidates worth supporting and I’ve even made the occasional, stomach turning, “lesser of two evils” vote. But too often, most often, the Democrats fall back on the tired, old, and judging from the results of the last election in 2014, failed, strategy, of “vote for us we’re not the Republicans”.
Which brings me to the reasons I switched my registration to Democrat, Bernie Sanders and precinct caucuses. You see, unlike in a primary, where Colorado’s unaffiliated voters can declare a party on election day and vote in that party’s primary, we have precinct caucuses for the Presidential race. On caucus night March 1st, registered Democrats across Colorado, will go to these neighborhood meetings and vote for the candidate they support for the Democratic nomination for President.
Why bother, you might say, especially if you are an unaffiliated voter? Why, because it’s not about the Democrats, it’s about Bernie Sanders. An independent his entire time in the House & Senate as well as his time as Mayor of Burlington, Vt., he’s not only not a Democrat, but also someone who has never taken corporate money. No super pacs, no secret donors writing checks for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, no free rides in corporate jets.
But it goes beyond just the money. It’s the life he’s led; it’s about who he is. From a working class, Brooklyn family, in college he became active in the civil rights and anti-Viet Nam war movements, then a small town mayor, then the House & Senate. What’s missing are the connections. You know the kind. Past partners in law firms with corporate clients or fellow corporate board members, lobbyist friends, classmates from elite universities now completely immersed in the corporate world, long time big money donors that are now friends, the kind of inside, personal connections that corrupt not just the political process in Washington, but threaten democracy itself. Call it the “good old boy network” (and it is mostly the boys) or old school ties, Bernie Sanders is not part of it, never has been.
When he talks about representing working class Americans instead of the giant corporations that dominate our economy, or the millionaires and billionaires who never seem to have enough and think nothing of spending millions of dollars buying politicians who will do their bidding, it’s not just talk.
Instead of having CEOs, Wall Street speculators and their lobbyists on speed dial, you’ll find him meeting with nurses, blue collar workers, public employees and other working people whose wages have stagnated, whose bank accounts have been pushed to the brink, whose pensions have been cut or stolen altogether, all to benefit the wealthy few. Instead of hustling campaign cash at fundraisers where the rich and richer write checks for more than what most people make in a month or many make in an entire year, Bernie Sanders is literally walking the walk on union picket lines or at demonstrations for a $15/hr minimum wage.
The Democratic party has a long, long way to go before they can win me back, but Bernie Sanders, he’s another story altogether. By the way, unless I get elected at the precinct caucus as a delegate for Bernie Sanders to the County Convention, I’ll be going online the next day and changing back to unaffiliated, because I’m just another temporary Democrat for Bernie.
Chris Goodwin is a retired CU staff member, former local union president, former union organizer and longtime local political activist who has lived in Boulder since 1971. He is a freelance photographer whose work can be seen at desrowVISUALS.com He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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