I Don’t Know If I Want to Be a Democrat

Zach J. Payne
5 min readAug 8, 2018
Photo by thom masat on Unsplash

So I’ve been dealing with the paperwork to change my ID over from California to Nevada, and part of that is giving me the opportunity to fill out my voter registration. And I’ve been sitting here with the paperwork, mostly filled out, except for one field.

I don’t know what to put for my political party.

It’s a tough call. Not between the two major parties, God no. I voted Republican exactly once in my life, during the first election I could vote in, and I regret that immensely. But I was a different person back in 2008: still an evangelical, still a few years from coming out of the closet, still under the close mentorship of a religious figure that influenced my every word, every thought, feeling, and belief.

I thought voting for John McCain was doing Jesus a solid. I was so stupid back fffffffthen.

But, let’s jump forward 10 years, to now, and my current predicament. What do I do? Do I check the Democrat box, or do I write in Democratic Socialist?

It’s a trade off: on one hand, the Democratic Socialist platform has a lot more in line with what I believe: Universal Medical Care, Free & Improved Education, Removing Big Money from politics, providing a Universal Basic Income, using the strong arm of the government to stave off the greatest evils of capitalism without going too far the other way and turning America into Chairman Mao’s Happy Time Work Camp.

On the other hand, it’s just not practical: this is a two-horse game, and it’s down to the Ds and the Rs.

Do I wish it was otherwise? Absolutely. But the reality is that, to some extent, American politics is a zero sum game. Anything other than voting for one party will directly hurt it.

So that makes it easy, right? I should just call myself a Democrat, right?

Well. That’s not so easy.

First of all, even though the Democratic Party likes to play itself as a Lefty Lucy, it still dances pretty close to the center line, and even flirts with the right. Obama liked his drones, after all. And over the last few decades, not nearly enough Democrats have stood up and talked about scaling back the military.