What it means to be a Democrat
I live in Inglewood, CA. Moreover, I live in Auntie Maxine Waters' district. What does this mean? That my community is so geared towards Democrats that even though the GOP manages to put up candidates, they're mere cannon fodder. Also, of course, I live in California, a state where the GOP is becoming not a minority party, but a minor party, able to hold power in only a few counties. The only Republicans left are the dead-enders who would in fact approve of Donald Trump for having sex with a dead prostitute in the middle of 5th Avenue.
All this means that I don't really have to consider what it means "to be a Democrat". Having grown up in a union household, and having lived my entire life in the country's two bastions of liberalism, Democratic identification is as natural to me as roasted pork on Christmas Eve.
But some of you might not be so blessed. Some of you might live in states where politics are more competitive, or in states where the Republicans hold sway.
And, as the events of the past week have unfolded, perhaps some of those Republicans are now coming to the dread realization that they've made a grave error. That voting out of petulance and animus might actually redound to their disfavor. They know what they are, or what they thought they were. Doubts may now be creeping in. And you, as a Democrat, might suddenly be asked: "What does your party stand for?"
This is a serious question. Politics, when done correctly, is the art of persuasion. It should be a human endeavor in which people of good will may not agree on particulars, but have a rough commonality on an idea of what is the Good. We can both agree that having the homeless litter our street like ignored refuse is not optimal for the richest society in the history of the world, even though we will have debates of the best way to address the problem. Politics, practiced in good faith, should be able to come to a compromise on issues of the day.
However, that's not where we are right now. While, in general, we are not Spain in 1935, the rhetoric is starting to reach those heights. It seems as if there's no common ground between the two sides of the aisle, as if two realities exist side by side.
Are we as divided as we're made out to be? Forty-six percent of those who voted did so for Donald Trump. However, only 59% of those eligible to vote did so. Trump was elected by a minority of those who could vote. The latest Gallup poll has him at 61% disapproval, which tallies with the voting figures. That is the base upon which we have to build. What do we tell them? Why are we Democrats?
I'm a Democrat because when I was a precocious 11 year old I saw a washed up B-movie actor begin his campaign for the Presidency by declaring "The South will rise again". As I said, I was precocious; thanks to my brother, I was reading the New York Times by that age. And from my history classes at my Catholic school, I knew the South rising was not a good thing.
I'm a Democrat because once I told my departed grandmother that blacks and whites were no different. We were all children of God. And then she proceeded to list all the superficial physical differences between us, as if that separated us in our humanity.
I'm a Democrat because the husband of the woman who was my nephew's nanny went on a rant about how all unions were Communist, and all union members should be shot. My mother, Cuban refugee, hater of Fidel Castro, was a staunch union member, and had been on two strikes that I can remember. Was she to be shot in his Utopia?
I'm a Democrat because one of our high school religion teachers would, every summer, take a group of students to nuclear test sites in Nevada, where they would chain themselves to the perimeter fence in civil disobedience.
I'm a Democrat because I'm a librarian. I value knowledge, reason, education, information, the free exchange of ideas, and not being scared of having my shibboleths questioned.
I'm a Democrat because in the richest, most powerful country in world history, no one should be hungry, no one should be shunned, no one should be oppressed. The foreigner should be welcomed, those who are low should be raised up, the powerless should have the loudest voices.
You all have your reasons for why you're Democrats. Think about them. Our party has not always been pristine. We were the party of slavery, then of segregation. It took decades of struggle to become what we are. But, from the founding of the Republic until now, the Democratic Party has been the one mainstay of the nation's political life, both for good and ill. And for all our struggles, now we stand on the side of angels. Not because we're perfect; far from it. But we know our imperfections, and strive to improve on them. Whereas our opponents are spiraling down into a morass of misanthropy, where they compete to be the most reprobate, to hurt the most people with the maximum effect.
We are in the struggle which is humanity's patrimony, that of striving to make the world better against those who equally strive to make it worse. As a liberal, as a leftist, at this moment in our nation's history, it is the Democratic Party which is the vehicle to advance progress. This is not even open to debate. Those who do wish to debate it are the same people for whom nothing is good enough, and stew in their own petulance. They are to be ignored and sidelined, for they offer nothing of worth.
Think about why you're a Democrat. And then be proud. We've come a long way from dark days. Now that we're in a new darkness, we're needed more than ever.
Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.