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A common reason given by progressives for continuing to support the Democrats is party loyalty. “They gave us the New Deal,” they say, “they always save the economy.” Those who use those talking points are absolutely correct. The Democratic Party has done a lot of good for this country; most social and environmental programs were enacted by Democrats. They are also correct when they discuss how Republicans want a Christian theocracy and always ruin the economy.

However, those individuals are deliberately forgetting huge pieces of history. The Republicans ended slavery, started the Environmental Protection Agency, and built the Interstate Highway System. The Democrats dropped the atomic bomb on Japan, resegregated the federal government, and gave us the Defense of Marriage Act. No individual or political party is perfect but everyone must acknowledge their shortcomings in addition to their strengths. Blind, unwavering loyalty guarantees someone support solely because of the (D) next to their name, not because of their policy positions or track record.

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty is one of the worst proponents of this. At a recent candidate forum at the Mt. Vernon AME, she told the large crowd that they should just vote Democrat straight down the ticket. Her comments were insulting to the good people who had spent time and energy putting together the forum. If people are just going to vote for a particular party, why would they need to hear from the different candidates and be offered the opportunity to question them? The whole point of putting candidates in front of the people is so they can choose the individuals they agree with and believe in. It is not so party members can parade in front of citizens and say they have “worked” for the people’s votes. It was particularly angering because the forum was a great success and set a high standard for which all other forums should strive.

Party loyalty is how we end up with unqualified politicians that do not represent the majority of us. Here in liberal Columbus, Ohio, Zach Klein is the president of the City Council because he is a Democrat, not because he has a progressive track record. He was a member of the Federalist Society and worked to put racist, homophobic, warmongering villains into the Congress and White House. If his track record and honest policy beliefs were what the people used to decide their votes, there is absolutely no way he would be in a position of power in a large, liberal city.

The same can be said of Hillary Clinton. For example, she has a deplorable track record on LGBTQ rights. She vocally supported Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act. She was also explicit in her anti-same sex marriage views back in 2008 when running for president. Her connections to homophobic foreign governments are yet another problem. But she has massive support from the LGBTQ community. It cannot be thanks to her work for those citizens because she hasn’t done any. One can only assume it is because she is a Democrat and not a typically homophobic Republican. It is impossible to see her getting the same support if she were running as a Republican. Her records on campaign finance reform, economic justice, minority rights, peace, trade, and environmental protections are equally horrific.

As the Democratic Party knows it will get a large percentage of votes no matter what, they are under no pressure to support more progressive issues and put forward more progressive candidates. Party loyalty actually makes the Democratic Party worse, not better.

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