Dear Democratic Party, am I still welcome?

Dear Democratic Party, am I still welcome?

As a newly Re-elected Councilman in a growing city neighboring Charlotte, North Carolina, I have been increasingly concerned that the Democratic Party I have been a member of for over a decade, has left me and millions like me behind.

I am not talking about my race, religion, sexuality, economic status or any other identifier. I am talking about my proclamation as a centrist or moderate. In the last decade, and specifically the last few years, moderate Democrats have had to go into hiding. In fact some are in the witness protection program in order to keep them safe from those who view them (us) as nothing more than Democrats in name only. I jest, but I must add that there are millions of us in this nation and we too deserve a place under the big tent of this changing party. Will you make room, or will we be squeezed out because our voices are not being recognized or heard as much as others currently on the national stage?

It use to be that moderates were welcome everywhere the Democratic Party was growing and expanding. They filled a needed service of pragmatism, critical thinking, collaboration and long-term planning and implementation. Now, many have been shamed into the closet or simply made to feel that if you are not ultra-left of center, you are not a “true Democrat”. They also served in traditionally more conservative districts and were recruited and appreciated by a party that saw the big picture instead of caving to extreme litmus test methodology.

Our proud history is filled with good Democrats and great work undertaken by leaders who have gone down in history as statesmen/women and reformers. Is it now such a bad thing to desire to work with the other side in the best interest of the entire electorate? Is it now a heinous act to find common ground and work toward solutions that put people before politics? I hope not, because this moderate Democrat holds dear those values we claim as Democrats, while understanding that sustainable progress can only be birthed with mutual input and sacrifice culminating in an end result that is a melting pot of views and ideals. This didn’t use to be a bad thing, it was how things got done. Now all we have is gridlock and partisan talking points, while our institutions crumble and the people’s faith in our Democracy erodes.

In today’s partisan political climate where the far left and far right have taken the stage with a loud megaphone, there must be a platform and voice for those of us who wish to acknowledge the need for cooperation and progress instead of always having the last word at the expense of the American people. This all or nothing political game of self-serving demagoguery, must end before the entire system goes off the rails. It is not moderates or pragmatists or collaborative public servants that are to blame for a system that is broken. It is the me first politicians and those on their payroll who have bankrupted our system and derailed the governing process.

If Democrats are to succeed in places that they have struggled with in the past and recently lost, they must realize there is no cookie-cutter candidate and there are no litmus tests needed to determine “trueness”. Each candidate and elected official must truly be free to serve the people they represent and sometimes that means being more centrist. The loud and growing calls to throw us all out if we fail to take some self imposed loyalty test to a purist far left ideology is short-sighted and misguided. It fails to understand the basics of public service and governance. It is simply at its core a hypocritical stance coming from those who claim the loudest that we must be tolerant and accepting of all. That should also include moderate Democrats.

As a former County Party Chair I understand how important it is to build the party and seize the momentum of the day. We need the energy and enthusiasm of the Elizabeth Warren/Bernie Sanders wing of the party, but if we are to truly be reflective of all and not exclusive, we must also make room for and accept those who are more moderate or centrist in their ideology. It does not have to be one or the other and the current war between the far left and left of center must cease, with a pact to work together instead of a duel to the death war of political ideals. If this party, wishes to emerge as a melting pot of ideas and reflective of all who consider themselves Democrats, it must respect and allow us all a place under the tent and at the table.

So today, I am coming out of the moderate closet to simply say...Hello, my name is Robert Kellogg and I am a centrist Democrat. The question the party must answer is, Is there still room for Democrats like me under the Party’s self proclaimed “big tent”?

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Comments

The short answer is "Yes."

I've actually been fighting against those who push "purity tests" to determine who makes the grade, because (for one reason) those tests seem to change like the winds blow, and it's about damn impossible to meet all the demands people dream up.

That being said, there are a few issue areas that anybody who calls him- or her-self a Democrat should be held accountable for, the main one being equality. The rights of minorities, women, LGBT citizens, and others who suffer under Conservative antiquated social ideals are important, and should not be "traded off" by moderate Democrats in an effort to secure any bi-partisan relationship or cooperation.

As with anything, you are what you do. If you can find common ground on things the community needs to have done, without also abandoning or punishing those who are already struggling with inequality, then you have a place in that big tent.

Yep

"As with anything, you are what you do. If you can find common ground on things the community needs to have done, without also abandoning or punishing those who are already struggling with inequality, then you have a place in that big tent."

Thanks for posting this

I hear you saying that you feel like the Democratic party is leaving moderates behind. And while I'm not disputing that's how you feel, I am wondering what evidence you might have that it's objectively true. Have you considered that perhaps it's an interpretation that you're choosing for some reason? I'm having trouble understanding exactly what's not working.

Can you point to specific events or actions that will help us understand what's going on ... how it feels from your perspective?

From my experience, the party has plenty of room for all kinds of Democrats. What is happening that causes you to feel marginalized?

And maybe a more important point is this: What do you mean by "moderate" when you refer to yourself? What specific policies do you advocate that you feel are maligned by the "rest of the party"? For example, do you support women and their rights to control their own reproductive choices? Do you support the rolling back of environmental protections? Help me out here.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, I simply want to understand what's going on. And just to be clear, I'm coming from a place of wanting the Democratic party to be an expansive big tent.

PS It may indeed be that your concerns are more about a sense of how things are feeling for you, rather than specifics. If that's the case, I apologize for anything I've done to contribute to that feeling. I'm committed to building a powerful party that will represent freedom + fairness for all.

I agree with you James

Hi James.

I agree with you that there are certain ideals and basics that Democrats should adhere to. The issue is not with equality or equity. Human rights must always be a cornerstone of who we are and how we govern. The concepts behind this post are aimed more at how we choose to govern (governance) and the clamoring from many within the party that the far left is the "true" Democratic Party and those who take a more pragmatic approach are not. I do not want to rehash past primary and election rhetoric, but there has become a sense that those of us who did not gravitate toward the more socialist agenda and ideals of the far left were not being progressive or true to our party. Many of us who are elected to public office understand that Government cannot run on absolutes, but must work to bring all voices to the collective table. Again, there is no room for compromise when it comes to equal rights, but there are many issues where both far left and far right have refused to come together and work toward common solutions. This is not how Democracy works and that refusal to work together or at least be open to it has paralyzed us.

Primaries : (

They're a necessary part of democracy, but man they can be brutal. I hated what happened between Bernie and Hillary (I was a 100% Hillary supporter) and the cost of that primary continues to take a toll. We have to find a way to compete for votes without getting ugly.

BlueNC is committed to being part of the solution in 2018, not part of the problem.

PS One thing that I've noticed about language is that it really does create the world around us. Saying "I'm a moderate Democrat" or "I'm a progressive Democrat" doesn't seem to help much. I'd much rather hear people say "I'm a Democrat." Period. Because the truth is, the differences between the two are almost nonexistent in practice. In my experience, we're mostly for the same things.

But as Steve says, the proof is in the actions we advocate. For example, we at BlueNC worked hard to help Larry Kissell get elected way back when. But then he voted against health reform. I personally found that action to be intolerable ... not something I would expect of a moderate Democrat, which Larry claimed to be. I couldn't see any way to give him a pass on that, though I really wanted to. These are the tough choices we all have to make.

Yeah, there's room for you...

...but I hope being a "centrist" doesn't translate to trying to earn bipartisanship merit badges by bending over for the GOP assholes that are doing their best to wreck the nation. Some things have no middle...it's either fair/right/equitable or it isn't.

Stan Bozarth

Thanks Stan

Thanks Stan for pointing out the two spelling errors. In fact, I did use spell check, but perhaps in my haste I overlooked these two. I will confess that there were many spelling errors. Grammar was never my forte in High-school and have learned to use spell check as a close friend. Thanks for pointing out the error of my ways.

Robert, I know you from

Robert, I know you from social media, but don't believe we've met in person. Hope to see you at the next SEC meeting.

Meanwhile, I'm sorry if someone has made you feel you were not welcome in the Dem party. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We've seen a lot of change in a short period of time, and not everyone has yet adjusted to that change. Over the past serveral years. the political center has been dragged to the right. At this point, the only way to get back to the political center is to move to the left. How do you see this situation??

You're ignoring the elephant in the room

I can agree with you that bipartisanship and working in the best interests of the American people is a good idea.

However, that assumes there is a right-wing that will actually compromise. There isn't.

The modern GOP has moved so far-right, that there's no room to craft well considered policy.

Education? The GOP that controls Raleigh and DC is hell-bent on turning public education over to the private sector with no oversight.

Civil rights? The GOP is adamant about restricting rights of minorities to vote and getting rid of Civil Rights laws.

The economy? The GOP, fascinated with "trickle down" voodoo economics, is adamant about giving tax breaks to the 1% and large corporations and ignoring the middle class.

The poor? The GOP steadfastly wants to dismantle the safety nets we've developed since the FDR era, returning us to the "fend for yourself" mentality of the 19th century.

Women? The GOP is fighting, tooth and nail, to dismantle Roe v Wade and, at every opportunity, making it easier for sexual predators to get away with everything short of murder in the workplace.

LGBTs? The GOP is still trying to figure out how to allow bigots to work around the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage and to keep in place the ability of businesses to discriminate against LGBTs in employment and public services.

Ethics and responsible government? The GOP has spent decades dismantling as much of the clean government and transparency rules enacted after Nixon that they possibly can. Those they haven't rescinded, they simply ignore.

How does anyone "compromise" with any of this?

I don't think you should be worried about being welcome in the Democratic party as much as you should worry about whether anything will be left to govern over the next few years.