Growing up as a Democrat and serving as an elected leader in one of the most conservative parts of New Mexico has not been not without its challenges or personal reflection.

However, I have and continue to remain a committed Democrat.

I choose to belong to the party of inclusion and the party that supports the fundamental right of all Americans to participate in our nation's prosperity.

I believe that New Mexico's Democratic Party has room for someone like me someone that can work with leaders across the aisle and work with those who fall in the middle of the partisan spectrum. I believe it is because of our shared values and the diversity of the viewpoints held by many of New Mexico's Democrats that we have been so successful at the polls.

Therefore, I was utterly dismayed to learn that the Democratic Party leadership in New Mexico, influenced through groups like ProgressNow New Mexico, would work against its own elected officials.

Recently, Representative Mary Helen Garcia (D-Las Cruces) was attacked by ProgressNow New Mexico and asked to resign from the Democratic Party for failing to support the party platform because in an effort to represent her constituents, she cast a committee vote in opposition to a constitutional amendment that proposed marriage equality.

Regardless if I agree with Representative Mary Helen Garcia or not, I praise her for representing her constituency in the face of threats and nastiness from the far left.

Elected officials in the United States are chosen by their local electorate to represent their constituents not a strict party platform.

This responsibility to represent one's constituents rather than one's political party is what makes our Democratic process so strong and, in my opinion, superior to the governments that employ multi-party parliamentarian systems of government where elected officials represent a party rather than their constituents.

The thought of a political party dictating to me, as an elected official, my position or questioning my vote, without fully understanding the constituents I represent, is bad for New Mexico.

And, for Democrats to be engaged in this type of political manipulation is clearly the pot calling the kettle black.

We need only look to the Republicans and the Tea Party faction in Congress to see clear and incontrovertible evidence that this type of political behavior is destructive.

In fact, it threatens compromise - which could have the unintended outcome of destroying our democracy.

As I write, the nation is bracing for the unintended effects of sequestration that will likely be realized due to this extremist party "choking."

I am a Democrat Ð but I remain cautious that our party is taking a page from the right wing's playbook that we have so vehemently cautioned against.

Slow Down Democrats and make room for those of us who can get the work of the people of this state done.

Jason Sandel serves as a Farmington City Councilor and is the Executive Vice-President of Aztec Well Servicing and its subsidiaries in Aztec, N.M. Jason Sandel is the Vice-Chairman of the New Mexico Medical Insurance Pool,

member and past President of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.