On the day my Dad would have turned 90, I'm taking a step that I never previously considered taking, and that I would never take without discussing with him.
How I wish he and I were having a conversation about this, instead of me just talking to - and through - my heart, which is all I've been able to do in the twelve years he's been gone.
I know, I know -- if I do that I can't choose the candidates that make it to the party line on the ballot, and that was something that my father - a Democrat, a teacher, an old-school community organizer - drilled into my head when I was years too young to vote. But - and this is the sad part - I'm fairly certain they won't miss me.
The Democrats are not interested in listening to me, and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be interested in listening to him, either. He and I, we're blue dinosaurs.
The Democratic party has turned so far to the left I'm afraid they won't be able to turn back - and worse, I have no idea where on earth we're going to end up even if they can turn the car back towards the center lane. Even more than that, their positions are so polarizing that they could perpetuate the divide we have now, rather than bridging it - and could help ensure another Trump term.
Here's how I'd explain this to my dad.
You remember how sad I was that you had missed the inauguration of Barack Obama, which happened on the second anniversary of your passing? I know that, even though you wouldn't have agreed with every single one of his policies (and you surely would have thought his getting the Nobel Peace Prize was ludicrous, as did I), you would have been proud of the country for making the historic choice we made. We did it a second time, too, in case I forgot to tell you.
I'm sure you heard me, loudly and clearly, telling you that in follow up to Obama, 62-some-odd million people voted to elect Donald Trump - yeah, the charlatan TV 'celebrity' and pompous New York jackass, can you stand it? The fact that 65-some-odd million people voted for Hillary Clinton didn't matter; the charlatan had smarter people working for him and won the electoral college vote. That Trump was inaugurated on the tenth anniversary of your passing almost made me vomit. I was glad you weren't here to see that.
And I'm sure you recall me practically losing my mind when the Dems gave Bernie Sanders, who is not now and has never been a Democrat, the right to participate in the Democratic primaries against Clinton.
You and I would have agreed that Clinton was hardly a perfect candidate, and that her 'cloak of inevitability' was a significant hindrance to her campaign and cost her the win. And I think we would have both been happier had she not run, truth be told, even though our party would have scolded us or perhaps even damned us to hell or something.
But I think we would have agreed that Bernie did not belong in any primaries for a party he didn't think was worth joining.
More recently you've probably heard me say I never have been progressive enough, and never will be progressive enough, for today's Democratic party.
You taught me that everyone should have the opportunity to be successful, and that no one should be held back because or their race, color, creed, gender, religious beliefs or lack thereof, and so on, and I continue to believe that. And you taught me that the government does have a role in ensuring access to those opportunities, and I continue to believe that, too.
And, you taught me that there's nothing wrong with working hard and saving to have the lifestyle you want, or that it was wrong to want to have a particular cultural, social, or economic lifestyle in the first place.
But you never taught me that the way to ensure access to opportunity was to have everyone have a union job, or to have the government take over health care, provide everyone a salary, provide free college, completely ignore illegal immigration, federalize every conceivable program...Dad, they're talking about requiring day care workers to be paid competitively with teachers - I kid you not.
There's more, but I think you get the drift.
Even worse, everything that was OK BT - before Trump - is now horrible, no matter what. Horrible in a 'throw out the baby with the bathwater' kind of way. Just throw out whatever is there now, don't bother trying to fix anything, start over. Or worse, ignore long-standing issues that have always been important to us, and focus only on the new stuff. It's insanity.
I don't think there's a single program coming from the Dems that doesn't cost millions and billions and trillions of dollars, and they don't even bat an eye at adding more taxes to pay for it. But that should be OK, I guess, because the people that are going to be taxed are the most hated people in the country: the ones who have more than the rest of us, the 1,000 or so people who make the highest of the high incomes.
I'm not one of them, by the way, so it's not a personal financial issue - but I do take exception to the hate and the bias. And I take exception that spending a few trillion more dollars is going to leave the next generation any better off than they would be if we didn't spend another nickel.
Are these aspirational programs? Inspirational? Some of them are, I guess. I'm not convinced they all are either A or I; you may disagree, and that's OK - we have never been entirely on the same page, but we managed. And that segues nicely back to why I'm changing my party affiliation.
The last straw came today, when Bernie Sanders announced that he's running for president again - as a Democrat, again. I've previously described this as being akin to having your Yankees manager handle a season at the helm of my Red Sox. I wouldn't stand for that, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't either, if the shoe were on the other foot.
I love you, Dad - and I hope you understand why I'm making this decision. I promise you, if they come to their senses (or if I come to theirs), I'll consider going back in. I'll still vote - you can count on that.
I'll just get a lot less junk mail, hopefully, and I'll have a lot more peace of mind. And you might, too.