Letters to the Editor

County, state Democratic Party are out of sync with progressives

Dear Jefferson County Dem Chair Knollman,

It is with great sorrow that I resign my HD 23A captaincy and role as precinct 7202330027 committeeperson.

After more than a decade of service to the Democratic Party, you and other county leaders deserve an explanation for why I am resigning. As captains and committee people we are responsible for asking people to do things. Over the years I have met many idealistic, hopeful, and committed people, and I felt no hesitancy in contacting them, perhaps multiple times, during the course of an election. Unfortunately, leadership failures at the state and federal level of the party place me in an increasingly untenable position.

At the national level Congress appears poised to pass an insurance bill that will be a boon to the insurance industry by mandating that citizens buy their defective product. At the White House, the president has surrounded himself with economic advisors who coddle finance while touting trade policies that undermine domestic industry. Meanwhile, the executive branch has escalated previous administration’s war in Afghanistan, and Bush-era human rights and constitutional abuses go uninvestigated and unremedied.

At the state level we see party officials meddling in the primary process both with respect to top of the ticket races and at the local level on behalf of candidates who identify with business interests over and against labor and whose conduct in belies any profession of progressive principle. Two examples: a) the 17th Street establishment’s unseemly move to foreclose the possibility of a primary by attemptng to anoint Ken Salazar and then John Hickenlooper as the party’s nominee in the upcoming gubernatorial election; and b) in SD 20, the rash of endorsements by statewide officials of a candidate with strong statehouse connections but a weak record on progressive issues. To outside observers this kind of conduct by party leaders sends an unmistakable and demoralizing message: The fix is in.

Finally, state and federal party leadership is taking an increasingly belligerent stance toward the progressive base of the Democratic Party, i.e. the people I ask to do things. One particularly egregious example will suffice: House Speaker Terrance Carroll stripping pro-labor Rep. Ed Casso of his vice-chairmanship of the Business Affairs and Labor Committee after the latter’s candid remarks about outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter. The message is clear: express anti-corporate opinions and you get punished.

In a nutshell, then, my untenable position is this: as a progressive, I cannot ask other progressives to suppport and work for candidates who out of timidity or connivance fail to deliver progressive results. The Democratic Party is now well into an exploitive relationship with the progressive base, and I cannot in conscience further that dynamic as a captain or committee person.

Sincerely,
William A. Simpson, Ph.D.
Jefferson County