Reflections of a Recovering Democrat
By Art Goodtimes: Sept. 18, 1998
Art Goodtimes is a District III County Commissioner in San Miguel County, who has recently switched party affiliation to the Green Party.
After considerable thought and reflection, I have decided to change my party affiliation from Democrat to Green.
This has been a difficult decision for me. I have been a Democrat for most of my voting life (except for a brief stint with the Peace and Freedom Party in the Sixties). Both my parents before me have been life-long Democrats. Although I did not always agree with every plank of the Democratic platform, I strongly supported the progressive wing of the party and its candidates. And understanding the basically two-party nature of the American political system for the past 50 years, even when I disagreed with the more moderate or conservative wing of the party, I usually preferred to side with any Democrat over a Republican.
But lately I have become very disappointed with the Democratic Party as an institution. Certainly, on the national level, the duplicity of Pres. Clinton has been a huge embarrassment to every citizen, Democrat or Republican. On the state level, the Democratic Party’s failure to win a legislative majority in either house and its lackluster candidates for statewide office have marginalized its influence in Colorado the last few years. And, finally, the appointment of Avery McCracken to a position of local leadership on the San Miguel County Democratic Central Committee is in my opinion entirely inappropriate.
These factors have clearly contributed to my disenchantment with the Democratic Party as it is currently structured.
However, there are three main reasons for my changing parties in the middle of my term:
Colorado enacted a new law last year (which took effect this year) greatly easing the requirements for getting minority parties to qualify for ballot status. Instead of the cumbersome petition process required for each candidate, small parties have been able to get their candidates on the ballot by a one-time petition qualifying process. Once qualified, small parties can get ballot status for individual candidates by nominating them at a statewide convention. This has greatly simplified the ballot process for small parties, resulting in the addition of a number of small parties fielding candidates, starting this November, including the Libertarians and the Greens. From my perspective, it seems that small party affiliation is now a viable option and the small party movement will only grow in a state where independents seem to equal or outnumber Democrats and Republicans.
On a political perspective, I strongly feel that I am tired of aligning with candidates or party platforms that don’t accurately reflect my personal beliefs simply because it’s a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. I have read and reflected on the Green Party’s Ten Key Values and feel strongly that they are closely aligned with my own personal beliefs. If I am going to remain in politics, I think it’s only right that I side with a party in which I can truly believe, not one that I think merely has the best chance of supporting some of my issues.
Finally, I believe the Green Party political phenomenon is an international movement that is growing in support and influence. I want to do what I can in this country to further that international effort.
I realize that changing my party affiliation to the Green Party of Colorado will put me in a minority position vis-a-vis San Miguel County voters. But I hope that local citizens will look to my record as a commissioner, and not merely my party label, should I decide to seek re-election in two years. I think the main themes of my present term in office — collaborative decision-making, sustainable economics and responsible stewardship — are issues that appeal to Republicans, Democrats and Independents in this county, not just Greens.