Believe it or not, once upon a time I thought I was a Republican. I grew up in a lower middle class home where my parents were more concerned with feeding and clothing three growing boys than they were with politics. I was an exception to the “you are what you’re born as” rule. My parents weren’t big church goers so I didn’t carry a religious preference into adulthood. My parents weren’t overtly political so, again, I didn’t carry a party preference into adulthood. However, as a somewhat impressionable high school boy in the 80s, I was taken in by Ronald Reagan’s charisma and machismo. To me, he was what a leader should be – a tough talker and very personable. I didn’t understand the Republican party’s policies until I was in college and, after a girlfriend dragged me to a College Republicans meeting, I realized I had very little in common with them. When she dumped me like a stone in a pond some months later, she accusingly called me a “Democrat!” GASP!
Moi? A Democrat? I’d watched those campaign commercials where GHW Bush called Michael Dukakis a “liberal.” I wasn’t one of them. Was I?
Well, on paper, in regards to the issues, I was.
And as I went through college, I realized I arrived at my political state through an evolutionary process. Coming from a working class family and racially diverse school system, I developed a firm belief that the government’s role is to protect its citizens not just from foreign threats but from economic hardships as well. I also cultivated a passion for the First Amendment, guaranteeing intellectual and religious freedom.
All hallmarks of the Democratic Party.
You say all politicians are corrupt? Why, yes they are. One cannot travel the path of power and influence without giving into some of the temptations along the way. But that rule applies to any profession. Athletes. Musicians. CEOS. For some, the temptations are roadblocks. For others, merely speed bumps.
You say all politicians lie? Of course they do. Governance requires walking a tight rope in order to please a diverse populace. The sad reality is, politicians often are dishonest to appease their constituents.
But the Democratic Party wasn’t lying when they promised higher wages, shorter work weeks, overtime pay, and unemployment benefits for American workers. All opposed by the Republicans, I might add.
The Democratic Party wasn’t lying when we promised a revolutionary economic package that lifted the country out of the Great Depression. Opposed by the Republicans, I might add.
The Democratic Party wasn’t lying when we promised equal rights to all, regardless of race and gender. Opposed by the Republicans, I might add.
The Democratic party wasn’t lying when we promised to defeat fascism and totalitarianism in World War II. Opposed by the Republicans, I might add.
And the Democratic party isn’t lying when we say we WILL offer state funded healthcare to at least the children of our country. Children can’t pick their parents. They can’t contribute to their parents economic situation. And it is immoral that in the richest country in the world, people have to put coffee cans on the counters of 7-11 stores begging for pocket change so their baby can get a life saving operation.
I think one of the biggest tragedies in recent years was the presidential election of 2000. Ralph Nader, running on a platform of “there is no difference between the two parties” convinced just enough people to vote for him, and with a little help from the Supreme Court, gave the election to George W. Bush.
Hey, Ralph, see the difference now? I’ll put it in a nutshell for you: 8 years of Democratic rule equaled 8 years of peace and prosperity. 6 years of Republican rule (so far) has equaled recession, war, and a weird obsession with Jesus.
Former Governor of Virginia Mark Warner put it quite eloquently:
I am a Democrat because the greatest and most noble political experiments of our time had their birth in our party.
I am a Democrat because the New Deal literally saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.
I am a Democrat because a generation after a Democratic president started the Peace Corps, you can still find faded photographs of John F. Kennedy on the walls of homes from South Africa to South America.
I am a Democrat because fighting for working men and women is always the right fight.
I am a Democrat because many in our party led the struggle for civil rights – in the tough places like Virginia and Mississippi – and because we recognize that discrimination and bigotry are not dead – and that we must continue to seek equal opportunity for all.
I am a Democrat because despite our failures, our missteps, and our excesses – we know that waging a war on poverty does not mean fighting the individuals who are poor.
I am a Democrat because we know that today’s battle is about the future versus the past – and it’s time to put aside yesterday’s battles of us versus them.
I am a Democrat because we know that criticizing success won’t create a single job.
In fact, I think the Democratic Party is the party of the American Dream. Every child ought to have limitless opportunity in our great nation.
THAT is why I’m a Democrat.