A Letter by Zack Czajkowski

To my political friends and former colleagues,

I never expected to be a single issue voter. In the not so distant past I used to mock single issue voters because I thought that it was silly to pick leaders based on only one of their policy positions. Well. I guess life has a way of humbling us. I am a single issue voter now. Our democracy is at stake and the first, second, and third question I have about a candidate running for office is “will they work to uphold our democracy.” I long for the days where we could debate marginal tax rates or reforming our healthcare system, both issues that are important to me. Unfortunately, our democracy is in such a fragile state that everything we hold dear and sacred is at risk. If we lose our democracy, we lose everything.

As a past, current, and almost certainly future Democrat, it is strange for me to spend so much of my time working with Republicans. It can be challenging for each of us because on many issues we have staunch disagreements; however we all share the same core belief that our democracy is worth fighting for. The rising tide of illiberalism has swept across the world, and the United States is not an exception. There will be strange bedfellows in the effort to protect our democratic values, but that is evidence that the problems in America can be solved. The coalition of people who put aside their party identities in order to keep our democracy intact is proof that Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds can set aside their differences and come together. 

I am humbled and proud to be playing a small role in this effort, but like everyone I have moments of doubt. In darker moments I find myself wondering things like:

Do we really have more in common than differences? Can our electoral systems really be reformed in a way that is fair and just? Are the trappings of power too great in the modern world for meaningful change to occur? 

What I keep coming back to is that whether we succeed or not, we have to continue to try. The stakes are too high to allow ourselves to wallow in despair or to do what feels good rather than what is necessary. It might be a little uncomfortable at times. It might be challenging to let go of old grudges or differences of opinions. I promise you that whatever it takes to protect our democracy is a lot better than the alternative. 

I’m a single issue voter now. My issue is protecting our democracy. Whether your top issue is climate change, or reproductive rights, or gun control, or lowering taxes, it can only happen if we protect our democracy. The coalition working to protect it is proof that we have more in common than we do that divides us. Most importantly, it shows that we can put aside our partisan differences to blaze a new path forward for our country, and for how we treat each other. We are not at our best as a nation right now, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. 

 

-Zack Czajkowski