In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
Tuesday February 2 was primary election day in Illinois, where various local and Congressional primary elections were held across the state. It was an important day, and I made every effort to vote before the polls closed. Thank God, I was able to make it despite a hectic job schedule, because voting for me is a religious duty.
The only thing is, in Illinois, the primary election is a closed election. This means that you must declare your party and get that party’s specific ballot. For my entire adult life, I have been a registered Republican. I have even been both a Committeman and Assistant Committeeman in the local Republican Party organizations. I believed in the Republican Party and the principles for which it stood. I was proud to be a member of the Party.
But, on February 2, the “R” that was listed by my name officially changed to a “D.” On February 2, I officially became a Democrat.
This is no surprise. My faith in the Republican Party was quickly fading, and I publicly declared this loss of faith more than one year ago. This feeling quickly accelerated during the 2008 Presidential campaign, when the Republican Party’s tactics and stances against then Senator Obama were extremely distasteful to me.
Yet, watching the Republican Party’s actions during the first year of the Obama Presidency has convinced me that I was absolutely correct in leaving the Party, a Party which has made me fell totally unwelcome. From failing to repudiate the rabidly anti-Islam voices within its midst, to continually obstructing almost everything President Obama has proposed, to embracing the extreme right wing as its most important base of support, the Republican Party of today is a shell of its former self.
The Republican Party of today is nothing like the Party of Lincoln. The Republican Party of today has completely abandoned its core principles. The Republican Party of today has clearly shown that it does not want people like me in its tent.
So, I left. But I could not make it official until February 2, 2010, when I put an “X” in the box labeled “Democratic.”
I was a bit hesitant at first: it is difficult to change something I have been doing for so many years. I even thought – for a fleeting moment – of checking the “Republican” box, out of sheer cowardice. But, when I thought about the Republican Party of today, almost automatically, my hand moved to the “Democratic” box.
I was in the minority in the polling place: almost all of the election workers were clearly Republicans, and I even heard one of them joking, “Yeah, the machine is gonna shred the Democratic ballots.” That statement brought both a smile to my face and a feeling of deep indignation all at the same time. For the first time, I felt partisan zeal for the Democratic Party. For the first time in a long time, I feel at home in a political party.
This is not to say that I will never vote for a Republican candidate. Far from it. If I feel that a Republican candidate is the right choice for my county board, city, governor’s office, Congressional seat, or Senate seat, I will cast my vote for that candidate. But, judging by the candidates put up by the Republican Party lately, I do not think many Republicans will get my vote.
This is also not to say that I am completely enthralled by the current Democratic Party, either. Here in Illinois, the state is in complete financial ruin, and the Democrats are in complete control. On the National level, the Democrats totally bungaled the opportunities of unprecedented majorities in both houses of Congress, especially on the Senate side, and it has led to gridlock on some of the most important issues of our time, such as health care reform. In addition, there are some very powerful constituencies of the Democratic base with which I am not enamored either.
Nevertheless, I do not squirm when I say that I am Democrat, like I did when I said I was a Republican. True, I will not announce this out loud, especially in the Doctor’s lounge at the hospital at which I work, which is a Conservative bastion. (Indeed, I frequently have to hold my tongue when I hear what is being said by my various colleagues) Still, judging by the upcoming leaders of the Republican Party, I do not think I will be coming back to the GOP any time soon.
Yes, I left the Party back in 2008, but it became official on February 2, 2010. It was my first day as a Democrat, and it felt very, very good.