Keep Fighting: Examples of the Democratic Spirit Personified
"I'm sorry but you have to be a registered Democrat."
This aforementioned phrase was spoken to me this past April as I was attempting to register to be considered as a California delegate to be sent to the National Convention in Philadelphia. Up until that point, I had always been a political independent. Sure, I was extremely liberal in my views but I had never felt the need or desire to formally attach myself to the Democratic Party. Plus, as an independent, I always figured there might be a sensible Republican that I could one day vote in for local office. Because of that possibility, I never considered fully identifying myself with the Democratic Party.
But after these past five months, I am now and will forever be a member of the Democratic Party.
Because I have seen the incredible goodness that the people of the party embody. Having worked as a field organizer on the ground, I have been surrounded by inspiring people on a daily basis. I have worked with other field organizers who left school, their job, or their spouse to join the campaign. I have worked with staff who came in for GOTV who put in 18-20 hour days without pay to help ensure that everything ran smoothly. I have worked with directors who have helped run multiple campaigns in multiple states who knew that Florida needed them in 2016. And I even had the opportunity to hear big-name surrogates come and speak such as Madeleine Albright, Tim Kane, and Joe Biden, all of whom expressed a positive message of love and support that became the central theme of Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Yet despite all of these people, my biggest inspiration has been the Democratic volunteers that came through our office doors these past five months. They came for a variety of reasons; Some were lifelong Hillary Clinton supporters. Some were staunch Barack Obama supporters dedicated to protecting his legacy. Some were lifelong fighters for social justice issues. Some were recently convinced by their children to take a more active role in state politics. And some were converted Republicans who felt compelled to speak out against the divisive rhetoric of a candidate whose party they no longer recognized.
Regardless of what brought them in the door these volunteers gave up their valuable time to unite behind Hillary Clinton and Democratic candidates and in doing so showcased the values that today's Democratic Party represents. These volunteers were selfless and did whatever they could to help the campaign. We had people with disabilities come and make phone calls. We had senior citizens brave the heat and canvass. We had Christians and Muslims go to their places of worship and register new voters. Our campaign office became a microcosm of the big tent that the Democratic Party has become with volunteers of all races, faiths, sexual orientations, beliefs, and ages coming together for a common cause.
And these volunteers shared their inspiring stories with me about their lifelong struggles. The elderly lesbian couple who had to fight for their rights decades before we had nationwide marriage equality. The former advertiser who had to fight for respect in a New York City Mad Men type atmosphere. The Swedish graduate student who saw the rise of ultra-nationalism in Europe and wanted to prevent it here. The Muslim father who wanted to raise his two-year-old son in a world that would accept his son for who he is rather than who his son might be. The married couple, one with a pacemaker and one with an oxygen tank, who wanted to do whatever it took to protect and preserve Barack Obama's legacy. Despite having already overcome all these struggles, these volunteers still felt compelled to put in the time to elect Democrats to office.
Because that is what the Democratic Party stands for: the fight for justice. What brings Democrats together is an empathy and compassion for other human beings. It is not simply enough to work on one issue one time and call it a day. Democrats actively seek out ways to improve the lives of others because they themselves have had to overcome these struggles. For them, it's deeply personal and they want to ensure that the next generation maintains and expands upon the rights that they helped establish. That's why they're still fighting as a way to not only preserve what they've fought for and won but to also make it easier for those that come after them. That's what defines today's Democratic Party as a party of fighters who never stop fighting even when times are tough.
And after yesterday's result, all members of the Democratic Party are going to need to be fighters for the foreseeable future.
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