[Content Note: Guns.]

So, the Democrats mounted a filibuster in protest of Republican obstructionism on guns, and lots of people were pretty excited about it! (With the glaring exception of Bernie Sanders, obviously.) Chris Murphy was great. Cory Booker was great. Elizabeth Warren was great. Lots of people were so great on such a difficult but important subject.

Lots of Democrats, that is.

Tell me again how there's no difference between the two parties.

You know, even when I started blogging 12 years ago, there was some validity to that complaint. On a whole number of crucial issues, there was simply not enough sunlight (or none at all) between the two parties.

The progressive blogosphere and the advent of social media has changed things. We advocated in ways that could not be ignored, and it made a difference.

And, yes, there are still some issues where the Democrats have not moved leftward quickly enough or far enough. (Especially in foreign policy.) But in that intervening decade, the Democrats have nominated and elected the nation's first Black president. They have nominated the nation's first female candidate with a legitimate shot at the presidency. They have expanded healthcare access significantly. They have defended Social Security. They have struck a major climate change accord. They have embraced same-sex marriage. They have fought for trans healthcare and protections. They have expanded access to contraception. We have a presidential candidate who advocates the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. Who has meaningful policy on disability. Who wants to end ICE raids.

This is hardly a comprehensive list. I could not have imagined a filibuster in defense of gun reform 12 years ago. And I have issues with the reforms they were filibustering to enact! But even still, I am deeply appreciative of the fact that there is finally, at long last, some interest in starting somewhere. Because I remember when there was simply no one willing to take a stand at all. And I would rather be having a vigorous debate about better approaches than firing off summarily ignored letters to elected officials who refuse to budge.

The Democrats have been pushed leftward and they have moved leftward.

I used to call myself an independent. This year, for the first time, I registered as a Democrat. Because there was a time when this party did not represent me at all. They still don't represent me fully, but they have listened. Criticism is useful and necessary. So is gratitude and support.

I want them to know that I am pleased with the direction in which they're moving, just as I wanted them to know when I was very unhappy.

There are still things that need to change. I am not done agitating; I expect more, always.

But this day I am proud to call myself a Democrat. Because there is a difference between these parties, and it means something to me.

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