I've been wanting to write a full post about this, but time is just flying by and I can't find much of it in one bunch to concentrate on the perfect statement. So I'll make an imperfect one.
I've been a Green for a long time, and generally positioned myself outside the two-party system, supporting and advocating for policies and legislation rather than individual candidates of any party.
When I've made exceptions to that practice, like with the Brad Carson campaign in 2004, I've generally regretted it to some extent, but felt that it was the best thing to do in the circumstances. (Generally, candidates disappoint their supporters, even when both are partisans on the same side. Party politics is not a very fulfilling hobby in that regard, and shouldn't be engaged in for that purpose: try doing something you can control, like scrapbooking.)
All this is prologue to say that I have decided to disengage from the Green Party of Oklahoma, such as it is (no ballot access and a limiting number of progressives in the state), and to become a full time member of the Democratic Party (as opposed to just joining to vote in primaries) and to support Barack Obama for president.
Now, I have to qualify this to say that Obama was not my first or even second or third choice among the Democratic presidential contenders. But of the two left standing after Super Tuesday, he is the one most likely to change the SOP in Washington. Hillary Clinton is a DLC supporter and her campaign personnel and operation showcase that beyond any doubt. I would never have voted for her, so I am glad that Obama has managed, almost miraculously, to end the chance for a Clinton dynasty.
But it's really not him or his policy positions that have caused me to get on board. It's the youthful, progressive, energetic, empowered and potentially revolutionary movement that has surrounded him.
I know that he will disappoint, even enrage, me on an almost daily basis. Today it was the grudging statement in response to the great news about marriage rights from California. But my motto is “Don't follow leaders” and I don't plan to change that. Like Jeremiah Wright, if Obama wins, I will be pushing him constantly to satisfy the progressive movement that put him in office. He won't do so nearly enough, and there are already signs that he is working to contain and control such agitation.
I think there needs to be such voices on his left side, outside his influence, and there are many that are positioning themselves to play that role, and I will be among them. It is going to be tempting — already is, really — especially for the young and inexperienced, to build up an aura around the man.
I expect to be disappointed, but they will be crushed if (when) things don't work out as perfectly as they have imagined. Regardless of what happens with Barack Obama's campaign, what has and will grow from it is wonderful, powerful and transformative. I have to be a part of that.
It is also a personal matter, in terms of what I can feasibly do as an activist, considering my age, my financial situation, my abilities and geographic location. I still believe in the Green values, and they will be just as much a part of my work as they ever were. But what is the best course for me, wanting as I do to promote democratic action, resistance and change? I am making the choice to take the opportunities that are possible, though still challanging, but not completely unattainable.
I hope that makes sense. It turned out to be a long statement, but not as coherent as I would have hoped.