Why I am a Democrat.

I am a Democrat because I choose to be one. I believe all people are basically the same, with the same dreams, desires, and needs. I believe everyone is equally worthy of opportunity in life. I believe that each of us sometimes needs a hand up. And I believe that the strong do have an obligation to help the weak. Sometimes I think there are those among us more concerned with pulling someone else down than pulling themselves up. I believe we best succeed when we all succeed.

I am a Democrat because of the proud legacy of progressive achievements our Party has achieved. In the depths of the Great Depression, eighty years ago, when our grandparents were hungry, farms abandoned, millions unemployed, Herbert Hoover and the Republicans stood aside and did nothing, blindly trusting the free markets to correct the dire economic situation. The Democratic Party led by FDR was swept into office and immediately put in place the New Deal. The Social Security Act (SSA) combated widespread poverty among senior citizens. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) combated the housing crisis. The CCC, WPA and TVA created millions of new jobs and gave the nation hope. The Democratic Party valued labor over capital, partnered with unions and believed the government had an obligation to jumpstart the economy. They got this nation back to work in the teeth of determined opposition, opposition that incredibly continues to this day.

I am a Democrat because, when our country most needed a sense of moral direction, Democrats helped put us on the path of righteousness. Our nation was founded on freedom, but not freedom for all. The struggle to realize our founding promise was long and painful. The Democratic Party itself was divided. But in the 1960s, Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson finally recognized the “Dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King and forced a reluctant congress to pass the landmark Civil Rights Act (CRA) and Voting Rights Act (VRA). These actions split the Democratic Party, with its southern wing abandoning the Party, but it saved the soul of America. This struggle is not done. It continues to this day but the Democratic Party is in the vanguard of justice.

I am a Democrat because Jimmy Carter showed us that greatness is found in humility and strength in being morally right. President Carter led us out of the morass of Watergate and restored trust in our shared institutions. The Camp David Accords he helped negotiate remain the most significant accomplishment toward peace in the Middle East. His plan for energy conservation, sadly not implemented, was the courageous and wisest path forward. He remains an inspiring figure today and is easily our best ex-President in American history.

I am a Democrat because Bill Clinton presided over an historic era of progress and prosperity. During his administration we experienced the longest period of economic expansion in American history, added more than 22 million new jobs, had the lowest unemployment in 30 years and the lowest rates of poverty in 20 years. He converted the largest budget deficit in American history to the largest surplus. His accomplishments are brighter still when contrasted to the following Bush era failures, which consisted chiefly of tax breaks for the wealthiest, and dishonest, open-ended wars. The Bush policies resulted in massive deficits, a disillusioned citizenry, a more dangerous world, and abandoned veterans.

I am a Democrat because of President Barack Obama. I am proud we are the Party that nominated the first African-American President, proud of what he has achieved, proud of what he represents for the future of America. After inheriting the disastrous great recession from President George Bush, his prompt actions averted a second great depression. I am proud of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) providing healthcare to millions of previously uninsured Americans. Although not perfect, I am proud he had the courage to sign it and to defend it against irrational assault. I am angered at how President Obama is treated in some parts of our media and reminded of how far we have yet to go. But I am also proud of how far we have come.

I am a Democrat because I am tired of the politics of division, of hate and fear. I am tired of gerrymandered districts where elections are meaningless. I am tired of partisan hacks tearing our country apart, of faux news channels spouting misinformation and lies, and of rancid social media. I am tired of politicians committed only to obstruction. But most of all, I am tired of cynicism and apathy and stay at home voters. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do better. We have done better. But we have to choose to do better now. I have.

I am a Democrat because today we, the Democratic voters, the grassroots activists, our Party leaders, our Democratic elected officials, represent the best hope for an America that works for all of us. An America that provides:

  • Equality – to achieve your full potential regardless of where you start out in life; regardless of who you are, or the color of your skin, or who you love, or who you worship. It is also time to pay women equal pay for equal work.
  • Economic fairness – a living wage, an equitable share for all in our economic growth, a ladder of opportunity that we can all climb. No American should work full time and not be able to feed, clothe and house their family. In the richest country in the world, no American should go in need.
  • Affordable education – to secure our children’s future without saddling them with crippling debt. We need a fully funded public education system dedicated to educating every child to his or her full potential. Adopting Common Core standards, particularly in math and science, would make it easier for our students to compete in the world at large.
  • Affordable heath care – accessible to all regardless of prior conditions that in the past too often put it out of reach of the truly needy. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege.
  • A clean environment – to pass on to our children and grandchildren; a commitment to address climate change; a respect for science and rational thought.
  • Freedom of choice – a women’s right to control their own lives and bodies. No one is in favor of abortions, but the best way to minimize them is through education and contraceptives. Making abortions illegal doesn’t stop them; it just makes them more dangerous.
  • Immigration reform – a realistic, humane solution consistent with our national values, that makes special allowance for the Dreamers, children brought here by their parents, while providing a secure border.
  • Freedom of religion and from religion – one’s faith is too important to serve the narrow interests of partisan politicians
  • A political system responsive to the people – not to corporations or to the moneyed elites. Corporations are not people. Dollars are not votes.
  • Gun sanity – respecting the rights of gun owners while recognizing the accompanying responsibility for gun safety
  • Realistic foreign policy rooted in true national interests, American ideals, and concern for those who have to go in harm’s way.
  • And yes, compromise – to listen, to understand, to acknowledge the fears of others, and to work to bind up the wounds that divide us.

 

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