Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why I Resigned from Two Democratic Party Posts in Alaska This Month

People here know me as an irascible defender of the underdogs in a number of battles: the sea, the air, the earth, indigenous peoples, Afghan women, common sense in Alaska, culture, fundamentalisms' dangers, and the rights of Palestinians, among other causes. Until two weeks ago, I also held two offices in Alaska's Democratic Party structure. I resigned from both on June 6th.

I had just been re-elected secretary of the Mat-Su District of Alaska, an area bigger than most of New England, excluding Maine. And I stood for election of Legislative District 13, a GOP bastion, and won there. That was late last winter.

In the months between the election and my resignation, I increasingly felt I couldn't do the jobs because I didn't identify with the national or state party structures anymore. I was already quite disturbed that the Obama administration is not only willing to forgive war crimes committed by members of the Bush administration, but is using the grounds against civil liberties in the USA made by Bush, as terrain from which to advance a similar agenda.

I was also increasingly distraught by the growing cognitive dissonance between US actions supporting deepening criminality by the government of Israel, and
the judgement of almost every other country save ours and Israel, regarding the legality of the Israel's intentional debilitation of over a million innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip. My Party not only supported the president's immoral stances, but backed them with resolutions, legislation and votes on them, some of which defy both common sense and international law.

On the state level, two things worried me most. One was actions taken last Fall by Patti Higgins, the Chairman of the Alaska Democratic Party. Writer and lecturer, Alison Weir had a multi-city, multi-venue tour of Alaska lined up. Weir is one of the most articulate defenders of Palestinian rights.

Higgins, along with other members of the Alaska Democratic Party, according to my sources, sought to have Weir's venues pulled. She was only successful with one of them, a proposal to speak at Anchorage's Alaska Pacific University. Weir's other appearances were not stopped. I attended one.
I wrote a critical review.

The biggest problem with Higgins' and Alaska AIPAC head David Gottstein's efforts to suppress Weir's rights to free speech was the total dishonesty in how it was done. They were both careful to keep their dirty fingerprints removed from this debasement of the values Democrats pride themselves in defending.

The other state-level incident that worried me over the mid-spring the most, was Alaska Sen. Mark Begich's non-response to my letter sent to him on April 15th, regarding a vote he took in the U.S. Senate on my behalf, as a constituent.

I have written hundreds of letters to my U.S. congressman and U.S. senators over the past 34 years. This was the first one that remains unanswered. Don Young or his staff has answered every letter. Mike Gravel even sought me out, and answered every letter. Ted Stevens and I had a rich history of resonance and disagreement, yet he always responded, sometimes in his inimitable handwriting. Frank Murkowski always had somebody respond. Lisa Murkowski sometimes took a few weeks, but continues to be responsive.

It has been three months since I published my open letter, and sent a copy to his staff (they acknowledged receipt). I doubt I will get a response.


It was a courteous letter about a set of substantive issues. He knew that I was a:

1) Multi-time contributor
2) Volunteer for his 2008 campaign
3) Prominent Alaska liberal blogger
4) Elected Alaska Democratic Party officer

Seems to me, unless he's been told to STFU, if Mark was a decent guy, he would have at least sent a blah-blah-blah letter, like I've sometimes gotten from Don or Lisa.

Thanks, Mark.

So, why even participate in a party that is beginning to show attributes of non-responsiveness that equal Bush's and surpass Palin's?

I'm not about to leave the Democrats - there's nowhere else to go. But I can't honestly represent a party whose chief spokesman (our president):

1) Supports the continuing starvation and malnutrition of Gaza children
2) Allows Israeli settlers to continue to steal Palestinian land, dignity, wealth and lives
3)Allows the Israelis to bring their nuclear cruise missiles, aboard submarines, into the Persian Gulf, right next to our warships there
4) Refuses to even acknowledge when US citizens or their spouses are killed or severely maimed by Israelis, alone among other countries in this respect
5) Expands the role of privatized mercenaries in Asia, Africa and Latin American more quickly than has any previous president

The saddest thing about resigning these posts is that my Mat-Su Dem colleagues are the best group of firebrands and hard workers I've ever worked or volunteered with. I realize that, due to my being a Wasilla resident, some wag will say "See, they ALL quit from Wasilla!" This may have more truth to it than I know myself yet, but I was getting so pissed off that I was totally ineffective and bumming other people out by my lack of enthusiasm. It was the best thing to do.

Am I just another 'quitta from Wasilla" on this?


L. W. du Bois said...

Great post. Thank you for your efforts.

Anonymous said...

That Julie Hasquet is a real gem too....

Does outrage over some of KWMD's pro-
Palestinian programming have something to do with its demise ?

Anonymous said...

Begich shut down the largest recycler in AK for a campaign donation from Rubini

Formerly T-Bear said...

¿Quitter? Not hardly!

There are times that it is necessary to withdraw consent. Likely this is one of those. Blindly supporting an agenda that is contrary to one's ethical standards is good reason to withdraw consent, otherwise it shows support for that agenda. There is awesome power in the word NO! use it wisely.

AKjah said...

No harm no foul.It's no longer Dem or GOP it's us and them.
"If i knew the way i would take you home la ta da da da....."

Anonymous said...

It's a darn shame that it had to come to this but it is understandable. I'm sure your work will be missed
and am glad you haven't left the Democratic Party.
I share your disgust with our lack of substantive change in national policy.

Your resignation is completely different from TCW's
Yours on principle - hers on price/personal greed.
Please persist in the production of PA, Phil.

funkalunatic said...

"I'm not about to leave the Democrats - there's nowhere else to go."
Maybe it's time to change that. If the two party system can be broken, it's here. Let's face it - the AK Democratic Party doesn't win in AK, and it's more because of what it's doing wrong than what it's doing right.

Anonymous said...

Give more time to the Coffee Party, Phil! :)

akbright said...

I think there is a growing number of "democrats" who agree with you on these issues. To quote the poster displayed on Mulder's wall: "you are not alone".

jim said...

I'm a Hammond republican-- that's why I became a democrat around 1990. I hope you'll stick with the democrats. Sometimes it is good to take a step back and evaluate from a less immersed perspective.

Begich's office has been the least responsive I've ever seen from an Alaska U.S. Senator or Representative. Begich and staff had better get their act together. From my own experience, I think this problem may be generic and not directed towards you alone.

I lived in California for a while. There I got better feedback from Boxer and Feinstein than I've gotten from Begich. That's ironic as CA has about 50 times as many constituents as Alaska.

Yo! Mark! You out there?

Corprimo said...

The question is, can you best effect change from within the confines of an imperfect Party, or on your own. You have the the pulpits of your Blog and your music, and perhaps now you'll have more time to devote to them.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't only the actions of the Party Chair and David Gottstein, in relation to Alison Weir's speaking tour. What has completely put me off the dems since then is that not a single one of them (that I could see) came out to any of the events to listen and judge for themselves. Even after all the fuss that had been made, even after each of the elected reps had received a flyer in their mailbox and other publicity, none of them bothered to (or they were afraid to?) see for themselves on this important topic. Patti Higgins did come to the Bartlett, but arrived too late to get in. All that speaks volumes about the mindset.

Philip Munger said...

Bob Poe was at the Bartlett for both Weir's talk and David Gottstein's response.