Being A Democrat

“I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.”, Will Rogers used to say.

And that’s the beauty of it, the Democrats have a wide diversity of groups, ideas and philosophies that come together under the big tent that is the Democratic party. We don’t goosestep in unison to the clarion call of a totalitarian personality cult. We don’t believe that the “one” is greater than the all. We don’t accept that the “other” is the reason we don’t have it as well as we think we should. Most of us have come to the realization that the “other” could just as easily be us.

Democrats talk about things, we discuss things, we debate things, we chew over things, and eventually we consider things. In that consideration we consider other’s opinions and question our own. We feel it is our obligation to hear and consider every voice. Sometimes giving voice to the one tenth of one percent has the consequence of allowing the other party to make us look weak. I would argue it is our strength.

I didn’t come to being a Democrat easily. All of my people are Republicans, on both sides. I’ve even got kin who held office and ran for office as Republicans. I was a Teenage Republican myself. In my defense I will point out that there was a girl involved, and I was a teenager, when science has proven that the brain has not completely formed.

I began to see the light in my late teens and early twenties. Losing Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King made me question why the idea of equality was so threatening that it had to be silenced forever. If my schooling was right, there was a line in the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal”. Why did the outspoken proponents of equality and opportunity have to be expunged from our society? Was it just a black/white thing or was there something more?

The great columnist and author Molly Ivins once wrote, “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point–race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” It’s true; once you personally figure out that people of color just have a different skin color, that all of their hopes and dreams and aspirations are the same as yours, you question why there is a political party hell bent on denying them the rights afforded to them in the Constitution.

I think we can take a cue from the Watergate days, “Follow the money.” As I have explored in depth, the rich keep on getting richer. It is their raison d’etre to climb the ladder of success and pull it up behind them. Under funding public schools and social programs designed to lift up the disadvantaged allow the rich to maintain their stranglehold on opportunity for generations. Does anyone honestly think that the building gifted to Harvard by Jared Kushner’s dad didn’t effect the admission’s board decision to allow Jared to matriculate?

Opportunity for our children should be fair and equal. We should not be sending children to school hungry. We should not be sending children to schools that are underfunded and poor performing. We should not be sending children to bed at night without the opportunity to do the online studying necessary to compete. Our children deserve the right to adequate health care. They deserve the opportunity to attend safe after school programs. They deserve the opportunity to attend an Ivy League school if they are the most qualified candidate and that includes legacies.

We need to foster the idea in this country of having one hand on a rung of the ladder of success while reaching back with the other to help someone else in their climb. “I got mine” and pulling up the ladder behind you should be a thing of the past.

The challenge is Herculean. What some of you have read here translates to “tax and spend liberal”. Guilty. We should tax the rich and spend the money to benefit all of society, not just the one percent. Lest you worry needlessly, the rich will still get their share, any benefit to the economy will benefit them the most.

I’ll finish this by quoting Molly Ivins again, “Personally, I think government is a tool, like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build or you can use a hammer to destroy; there is nothing intrinsically good or evil about the hammer itself. It is the purposes to which it is put and the skill with which it is used that determine whether the hammer’s work is good or bad.”

I believe the Democrats are the more competent party to wield the hammer of government.

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