Although a lifelong progressive Democrat, I registered as an Independent in my Congressional race. I didn’t do this to make war on the Democrats. If anything, I did it in hopes of contributing to the restoration of the principles I’ve always thought – and which many of us still believe – are the backbone of the Democratic Party. I don’t see how the party will get its progressive soul back, as long as progressives continue to co-dependently tow the line with the corporatist direction of either major party.
The Founders didn’t mention political parties when they wrote the Constitution, and George Washington in essence warned us against them in his Farewell Address. We need to disenthrall ourselves of the idea that the only way to attain meaningful change is through major political parties, as our history itself so powerfully proves. Abolition arose from the Abolitionist Party; Women’s Suffrage arose from the Suffragette Party; and the Civil Rights movement arose from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Major parties came into the process only after, not before, the drive toward fundamental change had emerged from the unfettered activism of the American people.
Major political parties have a role, but they are incapable of initiating fundamental change because they are fundamentally tied to the status quo. They are the status quo. And in today’s post-Citizen’s United world, the obsequious pandering of both political parties to the dictates of moneyed forces is hardly leadership or service to the American people. The only thing needed now is for the American people to realize this.
Many times in life, we say we want change but are then terrified when the opportunity for it arrives. What America needs – if we really want change -- is eighteen Independents in the House of Representatives, who like Bernie Sanders and Angus King in the Senate are capable of actions unfettered by party dictates. If we really want change, we will reach for this.
People don’t live in Los Angeles because we are tied to the same old, same old. We live in Los Angeles because of the intoxicating energy of new beginnings that permeate our city. This is the last place that should be towing the line with a continuing pattern of essentially aristocratic governance by which a “government of the people, by the people and for the people” has transitioned into a “government of a few of the people, by a few of the people, and for a few of the people.” We know better than that here, and as with so many instances where Los Angelenos say what is shockingly but beautifully true, we should say so.
I’ve publicly announced that I am not taking money from special interest PACs or lobbyists. And I challenge my competitors to do the same. Any candidate who does receive such contributions is inherently tied to the system as it is. And someone so tied to the system cannot be reasonably expected to do anything other than perpetuate the system.
The Abolitionist, Suffragette and Civil Rights movements did not just make wimpy overtures toward incremental change; they boldly stood for that which was genuinely democratic. It is our turn to do that now. Our American ancestors did not just plead with their masters, “Please, can we sorta, maybe, almost do the right thing?” No, they remembered that they, the American people, were deemed by the Founders to be the masters of their own fate. Just as they refused to acquiesce to tyrannous, patriarchal and racist forces of their time, it’s time for us to similarly refuse to acquiesce to the hostile takeover of our democracy by corporate interests. We need to awaken from our denial and face the raw, uncomfortable truth: that we have in our country today a legalized system of bribery and corruption. We repudiated an aristocracy two hundred years ago, and it’s time to repudiate an aristocracy again.
We need to create a greater possibility for independent voices around the country to rise within the electoral ranks. We need more, not fewer people going to Washington with the express goal of standing for a new pro-democracy movement. We need more, not fewer voices both in and outside of government working towards comprehensive reform, up to and including a Constitutional Amendment that outlaws the undue influence of money on our government. We are the American people, and we need to remember who’s supposed to be boss here. We are. The Founders were clear about that; the only question is, are we?
June 3 primary. November 4 general election. We can rock this.