By Eric Lee
I am going to state what anecdotally feels like an unpopular opinion, these days. I like party politics. I wasn’t always this way, and it took me a while to get here, but let me take you through my exciting journey.
You see, much of my life I have preferred to think of myself as an independent. I can think for myself. I won’t be beholden to any one party. I can work in other ways to advance things that I care about. I’ll find groups to work with. Prior to the 2016 election, I had been involved in petitioning, calling (to a much lesser degree than I have been since), and fundraising regarding different individual issues.
After all, there are plenty of groups doing work to protect our environment, the rights of workers, a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body, to further access to health care, and getting the vulnerable the services and assistance they need. But I have limited resources, in terms of money and time.
Then every four years, the parties begin the selection process for their Presidential candidates. Yes, I know there are mid-term elections, much like this year, and I voted in them, but my attention was drawn to, and sparked by, the Presidential races.
Now, in looking back over the years, I have discovered a pattern. I have, nearly without fail, voted for one party. I have been hesitant to think of myself as a party person, but here is the thinking which got me here. This (essentially) two-party system may not be perfect. Both parties have done some things wrong, or just bungled the optics of operations pretty badly from time to time.
But at the end of the day, I know that there is one essential difference between the two parties, and it is the key difference that defines my support for the DFL and Democratic party, as a whole. It is that I believe that good, responsible, accountable government is entirely possible, and is necessary for the healthy functioning of our cities, states, and nation. I believe that government policy can positively affect people’s lives; that my taxes can, and should, go to ensuring the social welfare, education, and security of our most vulnerable; that good regulation exists, not to hinder entrepeneurs, but to protect those who cannot protect themselves from those who would put their own profit above all else, including the very air, land, and water we depend upon.
Now, I could, as I have in the past, wait for a few candidates to come along, see where they are, and find out how they move me. Then those candidates will have to marshall resources, on their own, every few years, building with the information that has been there and working to woo a new group of people.
Or, I can do what I have been moved to do, and that is to dive right into a party. See, with party infrastructure and organization in place, it requires much less energy to find the candidates you need, especially in our local races. We can more naturally foster along the growth and development of candidates whom we know, and whom we can depend on to support and defend the values we hold, as expressed in the platform. We can have an infrastructure in place, ready to promote them, rather than having to ramp up that energy (and money) in having to get that information every two or four years.
I know the party whose vision most closely aligns with my own, and I want to get together with my friends and neighbors to work to get that vision implemented. It seems to me that the most energy efficient way to do that is to stand by that party, to stand with it, and to hold it accountable when it doesn’t live up to the vision we’re all hoping for. It’s messy. There’ll be disagreements. But that’s how we improve.
Anyway, I hope to see more than a few of you out at the caucuses, February 6. We may not be in the same room, but here’s to civic engagement!