(From Santa Fe City Councilman David Pfeffer, used with permission ... thanks to The Donegal Express!!)

Why a City Councilor leaves the Democratic Party

10:00AM, Friday, March 4, 2005
Santa Fe County Courthouse, 102 Grant Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Thank you all for coming out this morning. Before we go inside the courthouse, I’d like to make a brief statement.

Although a Democrat, I was elected to the nonpartisan Santa Fe City Council three years ago with no party affiliation or backing. Soon, however, the partisanship began. Some of my colleagues introduced resolutions against the war in Iraq, against Homeland Security and flouting federal law. They even directed our own police not to cooperate with federal officials on security and immigration matters. None of these things were city business and yet our own Democratic Congressman praised actions such as these. My objections and the objections of many, many Santa Feans fell on deaf ears.

After September Eleventh threw us into war and made our economy fragile, the Council tinkered with our vulnerable tax base by arrogating to itself the right to enforce a minimum wage. And now, as business goes elsewhere, even agencies that care for Medicaid patients have begged for exemption from this law. Yet local minimum wages find support in the Democratic Party.

My party leadership tells us how good it is that New Mexico receives two dollars for each dollar in federal taxes we pay. OK, I’m all for doubling our money. Yet one must wonder how many of these dollars go to bandaging perpetual problems whose causes never seem to get addressed, and how dependent we have become on them and on the folks who bring them in. I’d like to see a New Mexico that solves its problems. I’d like to see a New Mexico that can stand on its own two feet.

As last year’s presidential campaign heated up, my party leadership made a campaign issue out of the war even though there were enough domestic differences between the parties to allow it to have been the loyal opposition in a time of war. Along with many others, however, I chose to remain loyal. I announced my support for the reelection of President Bush. We won.

Partisan pundits reacted to this defeat, amazingly and unabashedly, by blaming Christianity. They could have looked at what their messages of liar, blame and hate sounded like to the majority of voters, who rejected these messages. But they found fault with the packaging instead of the contents. Well, it’s the contents that are wrong.

My party is supposed to stand for minorities but now I have to ask, has my party lost its roots and actually abandoned minorities; has it become a party of elites that stays in power by holding minorities obligated and down? Have you noticed that it is from the Republican Party that minorities now achieve high office and esteem? Now I am humbled and awed to see one Condoleezza Rice forgiving, speaking for and fighting for the United States of America after what we did to her people. I am humbled and amazed to see this strong, independent woman standing alongside the leadership of Europe and drawing praise like a superstar. I am sorry to see how my party treated this woman in her confirmation hearings and tried to vote her down. Had Republicans treated a Democrat like that, the charges of racism would have been rampant. I don’t recognize my party anymore.

For everyone, I fear, there comes a last straw. Senator Kennedy’s recent statement that placed blame on American soldiers in Iraq, just three days before the historic elections in the country they liberated, and then Senator Byrd’s talking about Nazism in a discussion of Republican interest in filibuster rules, were for me the “last straws.” It seems the once great Democratic Party has gone out with Michael Moore and never come home. I have become disillusioned that a party harboring illusions as these has any hope for reform.

Freedom, independence and self-determination – these are truly progressive ideals. They even form part of the charter of the vaunted United Nations. Yet incredibly, my party councils against these ideals and it is now Republicans who advocate for freedom, independence and self-determination throughout the world. Thank God they do. For it is a truly Christian thing for America to deal with her enemies by setting them free.

People tell me that after about thirty years in Santa Fe, I must have seen a lot of changes. Well, I have. I’ve seen good folks go from acceptance of one’s differences to intolerance; from respect to disdain; from peacefully getting along to outright hatred; from multicultural coexistence to profound elitism; from civilized discourse to interruption, ridicule and rage.

Remarkably to me and to many others like me, I have witnessed what was once the proud party of the people simply fall apart. But we have another choice. It is a good choice. And I make that choice today.

Albeit with some sadness and sober reflection, I will place the name Republican next to mine on the register inside. For I have found more acceptance, more respect, more hope for peace, more multicultural coexistence and far more civilized discourse in the Republican Party. I will proudly put my name to that and wish my colleagues on the other side of this newly created aisle the best of luck. Perhaps this will be a modest step towards a real two party system in Santa Fe and even in New Mexico.

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