Yesterday afternoon the Democratic National Committee called. A nice volunteer somewhere was working the phone lists and trying to squeeze money out of registered Dems for the upcoming campaign. I know the run down all too well. I still feel the pain of the 2004 election. Oh, 2000 was an outrage to be sure; a right seizure of the White House by the courts, but 2004 was a loss, plain and simple. The Democrats couldnâ€™t beat a man who stole the White House and started a war.
â€œUm, no, Iâ€™m not actually ready to give you any money,â€ I said to the woman on the phone. â€œListen, I feel totally let down by the party. In the face of everything thatâ€™s happened, it looks to me like Congress has just rolled over and let the Republican leadership wreak havoc on â€“ well, just about everything. Until I feel that the party actually represents my values and my causes, I canâ€™t promise that Iâ€™m not going to vote Green in the next election.â€
I have, in the past, been a staunchly loyal Democrat. While I do support Green values, I have primarily taken them on as a lifestyle choice, not a political one. But yesterday, as I was talking to the volunteer on the phone, I realized that what I was saying was true. I am thinking about voting Green.
Over the past two years Iâ€™ve been rather impressed with Maria Cantwellâ€™s efforts around environmental issues. She was elected in the 2000 race, so itâ€™s concerning that it took her nearly three years to become active on issues that are so important here in the Pacific Northwest. Still, Iâ€™d thought she was coming around. But we part ways at the â€œwarâ€. And sheâ€™s really been getting up my nose about gas prices.
My view of Washington State’s political leanings is admittedly skewed. After all, Iâ€™m in the liberal ghetto, the heart of it. I still donâ€™t trust that sheâ€™s representing the people, though. Our other two voices in Washington, Jim McDermott and Patty Murray, have been consistently against the war â€“ which I believe really IS a partisan issue. But Maria had protestors camping outside her office to plead with her to change her stance.
Cantwellâ€™s response to rising gas prices was to call for anti-gouging legislation. While gas companies are likely guilty of exploiting the situation for their own gain, gas isnâ€™t a state owned concern. I think weâ€™re subject to the capitalist economic laws of supply and demand. If Americans had been paying attention, weâ€™d know that the supply lines in the Middle East were interrupted by the war(s) in Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?) and Iraq. Weâ€™d know that Katrina nailed our supply lines in the gulf. Weâ€™d know that Chinaâ€™s demands on the market are diverting resources to the other side of the Pacific. Weâ€™d be adding all kinds of other information to the equation about gas prices. Cantwellâ€™s anti-gouging proposals didnâ€™t seem to account for this. And they werenâ€™t accompanied with calls for alternatives.
Cheap gas is not a civil right and I take issue with anyone â€“ politicians or otherwise â€“ who acts as though it is. For perspective on this, insurance rates skyrocketed after 9/11. Where were the calls for anti-price gouging legislation on health insurance?
I discussed all of this with the volunteer on the phone. She suggested that I was not seeing positive action by Democrats because of The Media. â€œNope, Iâ€™m not buying.â€ I said. â€œIf I was the kind of person who only watched Fox News, you might have me. But Iâ€™m not. I read the alternative press. I seek my news from other sources. I read voting records on the web.â€ She sighed. â€œYou wouldnâ€™t believe how much Iâ€™m hearing this,â€ she said, diverting from her script. â€œWell, I hope youâ€™re passing it along. Because Iâ€™m telling you, right now, I canâ€™t promise that I will vote Democratic in this upcoming election. Iâ€™ll be watching to see what happens, you can guarantee it.â€
As self important and tiresome as I am, my paltry vote may not matter one whit. Given that, if I vote for the party and they still let me down, why should I vote for them again? Oh, sure, Patrick Leahy and Ted Kennedy and Jim McDermott are blustering around in Congress, making noise of outrage and disgust. But whereâ€™s the action? Sound and fury, boys. Sound and fury. Meanwhileâ€¦. Wiretaps. Guantanamo Bay. CIA prisons in Central Europe. Phone records. Civil rights. 46 million uninsured Americans. Haliburton. The Patriot Act. Weapons of Mass Destruction. Donald Rumsfeld. Dick Cheney. George W. Freakinâ€™ Bush. God help us.
Republicans impeached Clinton over a lie about a blow job. Democrats haveâ€¦ what, exactly? I havenâ€™t switched allegiances yet, because if the Dems are ineffective, the Green party is invisible. But the Democrats have not delivered. Where is the fight? I am willing to be convinced that my perception of the Dems as rolling over and showing their bellies to the Republican leadership is wrong, but the party better hurry the hell up. November is not that far away.