Well, I did it. I filed the paperwork and I'm not going to be a Democrat anymore.
I've swung back and forth from Democrat to Green to Democrat, but I've always considered myself an independent and any time anyone's ever asked me what my political affiliation that's what I've always said. Sometimes I've qualified it -- "liberal independent", something like that.
I never really wanted to be a Democrat; I only ever registered as one to vote in primaries. (Arizona passed a ballot measure in 1998 allowing independents and people registered to third parties with no primary to choose a major-party primary to vote in, but due to a technicality it was interpreted to mean "any primary except a Presidential primary". Which is stupid, because obviously everybody who voted in favor of the initiative intended for it to apply to Presidential primaries because it's not as if independents and third parties were really champing at the bit to vote in the primary for sheriff or Congressman, but that's what we wound up with.)
It's a technicality and I don't suppose it really matters. In four years maybe I'll switch back to (D) to vote in another primary. Or maybe I'll go (R) for a change and try to get the least-crazy Republican candidate nominated -- I may not be wild about guys like Huntsman or Johnson, but I think everybody would be a lot better off if the Republican Party went back to being helmed by candidates who weren't completely fucking nuts.
But, truth is, I was never really comfortable calling myself a Democrat, because I really cannot stand the Democratic Party. The Republicans are odious but they're doing what they're supposed to do; it's the Democrats who talk a good game about reining in special interests and respecting civil liberties and then turn around and piss all over those promises.
I knew Obama was going to disappoint me in some cases, but I never expected him to disappoint me so much. I thought worst-case scenario was that he'd be another Clinton. Instead, he's like Clinton without the political acumen.
His signature achievement has been the passage of a healthcare bill designed by the Heritage Foundation -- without a single Republican vote. I'll grant it's better than what we had, but that's a pretty piss-poor campaign slogan.
He backed off his support for due process before he was even elected President; in '08 he said he'd filibuster any attempt to grant immunity to the telecoms who aided the Bush Administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program, then he turned around and voted for telecom immunity -- and when the liberal base that had gotten him nominated complained, he affected that condescending air of his and said we had misunderstood and he had never said he would oppose telecom immunity.
He's certainly proven, since becoming President, that he's not so concerned with due process after all. Indeed, as the EFF's Trevor Timm recently observed, the Democratic Party Platform of 2008 explicitly condemned warrantless surveillance, and the 2012 platform dropped that language entirely. I guess worrying about due process makes it harder to order drone strikes against American citizens and soak cancer survivors in urine while searching for nefarious objects like 4-ounce bottles of liquid.
So I've been wrestling with myself for months about whether I'd grit my teeth and vote for Obama a second time. (Third, counting the '08 primary -- though I'd have probably voted Edwards if he'd still be in the race. Now there's a politician who's become a massive disappointment for reasons that have nothing to do with policy.) And I think the last straw was the Justice Department's recent announcement that it wouldn't be filing charges against Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Not only did they announce they wouldn't charge him, they announced it before the November election. Polls are showing a tight race between Arpaio and challenger Paul Penzone (with independent Mike Stauffer polling around 5%) -- it is entirely possible that the Obama Justice Department just got Sheriff Joe reelected.
Maybe if I were in a swing state I'd grit my teeth and vote Obama anyway -- I have to admit he's better than Romney and, under the circumstances, I hope he wins.
But my state's votes are going to Romney, period -- even the pundit class has pretty much given up the "maybe Arizona will be a swing state!" nonsense they pulled the last three elections.
Absolutely any vote I make is going to be a protest vote. And under the circumstances, I'd rather my protest vote go to someone who I actually like.
If only I could figure out who that is.