I’ve been through tremendous personal change over the course of the last four years, including giving up my career, changing my religion, and trying my hand at partisan politics. I say “trying my hand” because I was not a party activist before moving to Delaware, and after the life-changing experiences of the last four years, I’ve decided to refocus my political energy on advancing the issues I care about and growing the progressive community, rather than trying to build “the party.”
Actually, during the two years I ran for office, I did focus on issues and community, which is why our supporters included people across the political spectrum and a whole lot of folks who had never worked on a campaign before. A few had never even voted before! I ran for office because I wanted to make the world a better place, not to advance “Team D” no matter what.
Don’t get me wrong. In most cases, I still support “Team D” over “Team R” because “Team D” almost always stands closer to my values. My emphasis, however, will always remain on the values.
Morris Fiorina argues that most Americans cannot relate to the type of people who dominate electoral politics these days.
There is a disconnect between the world of contemporary Americans and the political order that purports to represent them. Citizens see … a political order dominated by a political class whose behavior and operating style would be unacceptable outside of politics.
While there are a lot of really great people involved in political parties, in my experience Fiorina is right. The arena of partisan politics does appear to have more than its fair share of politicians and party operatives who behave in ways no normal person would recognize as decent. That is why so many citizens are cynical about politics and disengaged.
The solution to the problems we face in state and national politics, however, requires more civic engagement not less, so I have no intention of giving up on politics. I’ve spent my entire life working to strengthen democracy and advance the progressive agenda, and I am not stopping now.
For me, every day feels like a new beginning, and today I am excited about the increasingly non-partisan focus of my work. To me, being non-partisan means working to advance the issues I care about, rather than basing political decisions on how they will affect “the party” or a particular person’s chances for reelection. Being non-partisan does not mean pretending to be neutral, striving for the support of both parties, or splitting the difference, but it does mean being open to new perspectives. Most importantly, it means focusing honestly on the issues and being willing to criticize both parties when necessary — but also supporting the candidates who share my values and support the issues I care about.