Voting for Bernie? Check Your Registration

By Noah T.

Registering as a Democrat

On April 4, Louisiana will hold a primary election to decide which Democratic candidate to support in a run for president. This will be a closed primary, so it will only be open to registered Democrats. Many members of the Democratic Socialists of America are not registered Democrats: they may have been drawn to the DSA because they have no faith in existing political parties, or because they don’t see any political party that is a good representation of their personal ideology. The Democratic Socialists of America are a political group, but not a party. When our members register to vote, we don’t have a DSA box to check, we have to make our own choice about party affiliation. In this primary for the Democratic nominee for president, we are encouraging our members to register as democrats to take part in this contest. It’s a simple process for voters to change party affiliation to Democrat to cast this vote, and then change to something else afterward if they wish.

Our organization has endorsed a candidate in this race: Bernie Sanders is the politician in this primary who has done the most to further our cause, and who best represents the ideology of the DSA. He is the only candidate promoting democratic socialism, and he has the strongest record of leftist politics in the field. It’s important that we take part in this election to make sure the numbers of leftists are represented instead of hidden, and we become harder to dismiss and push to the side.

Louisiana’s Democratic primary probably won’t be the most crucial battleground in this nationwide contest, but it is a chance to express our opinions and give hope to our allies in the state. There has been a conflict between the more leftist and moderate sections of the Democratic party, which has been especially obvious over the last four years, and we need to show the energy and power of that left-wing. We are working every day to prove we are not a small, unrealistic faction to be brushed aside, and voting is one easy and visible way to do that. Over the last few years, we’ve seen the effect that Sanders and other leftist candidates have had in energizing new voters and moving the policies of the democratic party. Since on a national scale, we are still stuck in essentially a two-party system, fighting for influence in that party is an immediate way to make our voices heard electorally.

Registering as an Independent

Some DSA members may be have registered with “Independent” as their party affiliation, and they should be aware of what that affiliation means.

In 2004, the Louisiana legislature passed a bill banning a formal independent party. Voters who didn’t wish to be affiliated with any recognized parties could still select “No Party” on their registration. In 2015, it became legal in Louisiana to register your party affiliation as “Independent”, thanks to the passage of a bill authored by state senator Rick Gallot of Ruston. Gallot says the bill was at first supposed to give politicians the right to declare themselves “Independent” instead of “No Party”, but other members of state congress rejected the idea of unaffiliated voters still receiving the benefits of belonging to a party, so it was amended. After the bill was passed, Gallot did not file an application and pay the $1000 fee to actually form the party officially. So for a few years registering your party affiliation as “Independent” meant essentially the same as “No Party”, but in 2017 The party became official through registration by two unaffiliated people, Bill Bryan and Pat Bergeron. Bryan is a Republican consultant and Bergeron was Louisiana press secretary for Bill Clinton’s ’96 presidential run. Now, if you register as an Independent you have joined their party.

Registered independents may also have joined the party of Terry Wheelock, an Independent who ran for president in 2016 and claims to be running in 2020. Wheelock may be the Louisiana Independent Party’s candidate for president, or he might just be a guy with a website. Either way, a visit to the Louisiana Independent Party’s website is truly a trip down the rabbit hole. The site’s page on the party issues is a list of words like “space”, “resources”, and “election” with no further clarification.

Wheelock himself can be unclear about his beliefs, and is trying hard to come at the issues in a way that refutes and agrees with both parties: he wants to work to fight pollution and protect the environment, but does not think humans cause climate change. He thinks both Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are racist, and he insists he is very anti-nazi and anti-socialist. He also wants to abolish the IRS, get the government out of the institution of marriage, and improve the U.S. space program. In “An Open Letter to America’s Youth” Wheelock accuses young people of being ignorant about civil rights, marching to defend confederate statues, and trying to take his guns away, and suggest it might be time “… to put a FOOT in their ASSES to WAKE them UP!” If you wish to explore the mind of this man even further, check his non-profit organization the Universal Foundation for his views on alternate theories of matter, wine, gymnastic mechanics, the Fort Hood shooting, race in America, 9/11, building model airplanes, and so much more.

Until independents or another third party becomes a reliable option for DSA members, most of our votes need to be cast to push the Democratic party left. Voting cannot be the main way our organization makes positive change, but it is one highly visible way we can engage in politics. In 2020, most of the biggest votes we can cast will be for Democrats, and we should try our hardest to move the party left before we get back to our other work.

To check your registration, click here and fill out theVoting for Bernie? Check Your Registration short form.
To change you party registration here, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the link “click here to register or change your registration” you go through the steps to register, and have a chance to change party affiliation.