Confessions of a former Democrat

April 26, 2017
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


In today’s bitterly divided national government dominated by the hardening extremes of each party, where are we headed? Whatever happened to the reasonable moderates of this world? Have we witnessed the death of common sense? If positions harden any further, it seems like we are heading toward America’s second Civil War, if not anarchy.

While the Republican Party certainly has its issues, whatever happened to the Democratic Party that I once belonged to? As a former member of this County’s Democratic Central Committee over 40 years ago, I was proud to support the party of Truman and JFK and fighting that of Nixon. But cracks in my political beliefs began to appear with LBJ’s expansion of the Vietnam conflict, the sheer incompetence of Jimmy Carter, and the lies of Bill and Hilary Clinton. It was they who compelled me to drift away from my political origins.

Then after enduring the eight years of the Obama Administration and Nancy (just pass Obamacare and then read the law) Pelosi, the 2016 elections had the Republicans surprisingly and convincingly winning the presidency and majorities in both Congress and the Senate.

As the dust continues to settle in Trump’s first 100 days in office, it is difficult to swallow what my old Democratic Party has become: little more than a shadow of its former self. I’m a moderate “little ‘r’” republican now, and I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, but I’ve accepted the reality of his election. Clearly the country was looking to shake things up in 2016 and people got what they voted for.

But how do the Dems respond? They have become the new party of “no.” Rather than accepting the results and trying to rebuild their leverage by compromising with Republicans, what’s left of the Democrats have declared all-out war on the GOP. In doing so, they have ceded the national agenda they had coveted so much to the very party they despise.

Democrats need to face reality. As with all wars, the Dem’s jihad against Trump will have its consequences and those consequences seem direst for the Democrats. What Dems are doing now is akin to shooting themselves not only in the foot, but in the head. Consider the following:

·         In the 2016 elections, the Democrats forgot about working people while choosing to embrace the dogma of limousine liberals. While they may have won in the big urban areas, they lost the rust belt and middle America. And what do they do in 2017? They elect ultra-liberal, big-city urbanites like Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader and Chuck (I never met a microphone I didn’t like) Schumer as Senate minority leader. Have they gone totally tone deaf?

·         While Trump stumbled out of the gate with his initially unsuccessful attempt at “repealing and replacing Obamacare” without a single Democratic vote, it’s just a matter of time before the Republicans get their act together and pass an acceptable bill over the unanimous objection of Democrats. It now looks like that will happen sooner rather than later.

·         With the Dems signaling their adamant opposition to any Trump’s Supreme Court nominee during the Gorsuch confirmation hearings, it opened the door for the Republicans to resort to the “nuclear” option they used to confirm him. No one is more responsible for this outcome than Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Despite his feeble attempts to deflect the blame onto Republicans, he can’t escape his full responsibility for this outcome.

·         By opening that door to replace conservative Justice Scalia with the conservative Gorsuch, the Republicans can now use the “nuclear option” to replace any future Supreme Court vacancies, including those currently occupied by liberals. While this would be devastating to the Dem’s agenda, they and Schumer will deserve all the blame for setting the stage for letting this happen.

·         With the House Committee investigating WikiLeak’s and Russia’s troubling involvement in the elections of 2016, it has been lost on the Dems that those leaks revealed the essential truth of what Hilary Clinton, Donna Brazille, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz were doing behind closed doors in their management of the Democratic Party. That truth was there for all to see. Yet why can’t Dems see that?

·         The failed foreign policy of the Obama administration that relied upon appeasement and hollow threats gave rise to today’s Isis terrorism, North Korean aggression, Iran’s intransigence, and the use of chemical warfare in the Syrian conflict. Dems need only look in their historic rear view mirrors to ask “What would Harry Truman or John F. Kennedy have done?” The answer: precisely what Donald Trump has done with his strike on Syria.

·         Then came the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the waning years of Obama’s presidency. While I did not vote for him, I still had great hopes that the first African-American President would have an impact on ending racism in this country. Instead, he fanned the flames of the BLM movement while alienating law enforcement and doing nothing about the soaring rate of “black-on-black” crime which is statistically overwhelming our inner cities from Los Angeles to Chicago and from Baltimore to Dallas.

·         It is only a matter of time before the “Sanctuary Cities” of San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles start feeling the financial pain of losing federal funding upon which they have become so dependent. Instead of enacting local laws to enable the breaking of our immigration statutes while coddling the criminal contingent of illegal aliens who victimize the innocent, they choose to ignore the distinction between “legal” and “illegal” immigrants. Instead of trolling for new constituents illegally, Dems would be better served by working constructively with Republicans on a meaningful reform of our immigration policies. If they don’t, they and the sanctuary cities will get everything they deserve.

·         Yet in California in particular, the Dems are riding high. In this bluest of blue states, the party is dominated by and beholden to the most powerful political force in the state—the public employee unions. The runaway costs of public pensions threaten to swallow the state whole, prompting ever more taxes that are taking us on a treadmill to oblivion.

·         With the Dems holding all of California’s executive offices and two thirds of the State Legislature, California is now in the grip of a “monoparty:” a government of, by, and for one party. While that might thrill Dems, our system of checks and balances, common sense, fiscal responsibility, and adult supervision are all missing in action in our state’s governance. As a result, California is teetering on the brink of fiscal insolvency despite its heavy dose of tax increases.

·          And back to that old question: Whatever happened to well-reasoned moderates? If anything, they are a rarer and more endangered species than Republicans in California. Even moderates are being branded as “alt rights” by today’s so-called “Progressives.” Meanwhile, our state and some of its notable cities and counties are devolving into little more than “zealocracies”: governments of, by, and for zealots.

It was Thomas Jefferson, the father of the Anti-Federalist Party that evolved into the Democratic Party, who once said: “That government which governs best, governs least.” Yet today, the party of Jefferson  is all about big, heavy-handed government trying to expand by increasing dependence on the government dole.  Over-regulation, over- taxation, and over-zealous intrusion into every aspect of our lives represents the essence of what my old party has become. Perhaps if its adherents revisited Jefferson’s earlier statement, they might find the path to redemption.

While I am no longer a Democrat, I firmly believe that a healthy two party system is essential to democracy. But at a time when Dems should be reflecting and regrouping nationally, they have all but relegated themselves to the ash heap of irrelevance. Given the political calculus of the upcoming 2018 election season when far more incumbent Democrats will be trying to hold onto their seats than Republicans, the Dems will have a much tougher time keeping their seats than Republicans.

It will be truly interesting to see when or if my old party will ever wake up and smell the coffee. If not, they will be reaping a whirlwind of their own making.

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In case you haven’t noticed, the two party system is destroying this Union.

Keith: What a confused mess of an opinion piece; as a life long Democrat who’s first vote was proudly cast for George McGovern, I don’t think I could disagree with you more on your characterization of the situation that the Democratic Party is currently in. The one part you got right, in my opinion, is the corrupting influence of the “limousine liberal”, that is, those who are bed with big business, Wall Street and the banksters. Where you are profoundly wrong though, is your assertion that the “ultra-left” is in charge; if that were true, Barrack Obama would have pushed through a single payer health care insurance plan instead the Republican written “Romney Care” that morphed into the ACA. If the ultra left were truly in charge during the brief 90 some odd days of having control of the House and the Senate in late 2009, a lot more progressive ideals would have also been pushed through. When talk is made of “progressive values”, one could be talking about the plans, policies and ideals of Bernie Sanders, the man who fired up the left side of the Democratic Party, and continues to be the single most popular politician today.

But sadly, no, the ultra left is not in charge, label Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer with anything you want, that does not make fact; again, look at their actions, they are still a little too much “establishment” Democrats to be on the extreme left. I am curious how it is that you “endured” the 8 years of President Obama; he ended the disastrous Iraqi and Afghanistan invasions that Bush flubbed; he saved the auto industry, he brought the unemployment rate down to half of what it was when he took office, and the stock market reached new heights at the end of his second term. What are you talking about?

The elections of 2016 did have the Republicans surprisingly win majorities in both the House and Senate, and of course the Presidency, but exactly how is Trump’s victory “convincing” when he lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes? And for Congress, again, there were more votes for Democratic candidates than Republicans, but due to the very effective gerrymandering by the Republicans, they were able to win both majorities with fewer votes. Not all that “convincing”, at least to me.

Your labeling of the Democrats as the new party of “no” doesn’t explain that the old party of no were the Republicans, obstructing as much legislation and nominations as possible. 19 previous administrations nominated Supreme Court justices in their last year of office, and 3 were nominated and confirmed during “lame duck” time periods, after the general election when a new president was elected but not yet sworn in yet. For President Obama?, no, not even a hearing for a nominee who was suggested to President Obama by the very Republican Senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch.

Your assertion that President Obama did not do “enough” to have an impact on racism is laughable; how many “alt-right” (read: racist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi ) marched with the Tea Party rallies with their posters depicting President Obama as a witch doctor or other racist memes? And somehow it is President Obama’s fault that racism is still a problem in our society? Talk about out of touch.

There is a lot more I could counter argue, but my reply is way too long as it is now; let me close with the notion the Democratic Party does have some soul searching to do, and the sooner the party can return to the roots of inclusiveness, worker rights, taking care of the less fortunate and making sure our veterans get the care they deserve, the sooner the party will be addressing the wants and needs of most Americans who don’t believe in the fairy tale of trickle down economics, of dividing people by trying to turn Americans against each other by fearing “the other”, and the insane worship of the ultra wealthy that seems to be the driving forces the Republicans use to keep the monied elite in positions of power in our government.

Would any of you giving a “thumbs down” care to point out why? What did I get wrong?

rOy you got that right!

TKG By removing Sadam Hussein and weakening the Taliban, ISIS simply took their place. And when ISIS is destroyed or greatly diminished, some other group will take over. Remember that Reagan/CIA armed and trained the Taliban when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. I strongly suggest you see the movie “The Fog of War” if you haven’t yet. It’s a documentary and I feel it is fairly balanced and straightforward. ISIS is just another link in a chain of disaster. The west (primarily the USA and Britain) has manipulated the Middle East for many years.

ISIS is the result of George W Bush. His two senseless wars had no exit strategy and caused a power vacuum. ISIS is trying to protect and reclaim their land/countries and their culture/religion. George W Bush is a Pro-Life Family Values Born Again Christian Republican mass murder. How can you try to blame Obama for Bush’s disaster?

WHAT???!!!. ISIS did not exist until Barack Obama made his “crossing the red line” statement in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. Then he caved, leading to the worst terrorist group that we have ever confronted.

While I agree George W. failed to understand the consequences of his incursion into Iraq, he was well clear of the timing in the formation of Isis. Get real!