Shortly after I turned 18 in December of 1979, I marched myself down to the local firehouse down the street in Llanerch, Pa. and registered as a Democrat. In those days, nothing was done online, and it was a solemn moment when I signed the application and became a full member of civic society.
About 11 months later, I cast my first vote. It was for Ronald Reagan.
Pretty much every vote thereafter was cast for Republicans, but I remained a Democrat because I assumed it was part of my DNA and heritage. Party is good for slogans and lawn signs and talking points, but candidates are the ones who matter.
Or at least, used to matter.
In 2016, after 37 years of being a Democrat, I officially changed my registration to Republican so I could vote for John Kasich in the Pennsylvania primary. I remained a registered Republican for about three years, voting for Trump and Republican senatorial and congressional candidates until I became an Independent in 2019. There was just too much vitriol from both sides, and neither side wanted to own their guilt.
But Independents, ironically, are slaves to a system that doesn’t give them voices. In Pennsylvania, the party structures are so tight that unless you belong to a particular party, you are frozen out of the primaries. The party honchos love this, the rest of us don’t, but money and influence have more pull than the righteous indignation of individual voters.
So I went online and re-registered. I am now a Democrat. Again.
I only plan to stay a Democrat for two weeks. This is not an attempt to embrace AOC, Biden, Kamala and the toxic policies of the party that is much, much more radical than the one that I abandoned five years ago. No, this is my wartime effort, my strategic move to strike a blow against a man who is doing profound damage to a city I now live in.
Larry Krasner cannot be re-elected as the District Attorney of Philadelphia. Although I still have my home in Delaware County, I spend a good bit of time at my residence in Center City and have a lot invested in salvaging Philadelphia from the maelstrom of violence, bloodshed and blindness that has engulfed her since Krasner took office four years ago.
The man’s policies can be summed up in my suggested campaign slogan: “Empty the jails, Fill up the morgues.” The city has seen the highest homicide rate since statistics were recorded. Children — Black, brown and white — are dying in record numbers. Drugs and addiction have turned the streets into shooting galleries. Victims of crime are ignored, abused, ridiculed. And the assistant district attorneys hired by Krasner, a full third of whom failed the bar the first time around, are regularly castigated and sanctioned by the judges they appear before.
This has to stop. This cannot continue. The center will not hold.
And so, I registered as a Democrat to vote against Krasner in the May 18 primary. I hope that Carlos Vega, his challenger, will win. My vote, like the votes of thousands of other Republicans who changed their registration, might not have the impact of the millions of outside donations Krasner’s campaign is receiving from radical groups across the nation. My voice might not have the same weight as the money of some stranger, six degrees separated from George Soros.
But it’s what I can do to make the party system work for me. And the feeling of unease I had clicking on “Democrat” was balanced out by the sense of power I experienced in working to prevent Krasner from completely destroying a city I love.
My first vote as a Democrat was for a great man, who inspired America to greatness.
My last vote as a Democrat will be against another man, in a completely different class, whose idea of greatness is anathema to me.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times in Philadelphia and can be reached at [email protected]