My Republican friends have often asked, with incredulous snarls: “Why are you a Democrat?
I finally decided that I owed them, and myself, an honest reflection upon my choice of Party:
I am a Democrat because shared sacrifice is, in my view, a greater act of patriotism than wearing a flag lapel pin.
I am a Democrat because my faith is a private matter and not a litmus test of my quality as a citizen.
I am a Democrat because I would rather see a poor child fed or a devastated neighborhood rebuilt before reducing taxes on those making so much money that they can live where such things are never seen.
I am a Democrat because I cannot support politicians that would take away a woman’s right to control her own body while otherwise ranting that government should get out of our lives.
I am a Democrat because I see several things wrong with eliminating the necessary tax revenue to wage a trillion dollar war of choice.
I am a Democrat because I don’t believe that the oil, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries deserve obscene windfall profits and tax breaks while so many Americans can’t afford gas to get them them to work or health care and prescription drugs to keep them alive.
I am a Democrat because if only government can protect the national security and provide for the least fortunate among us, then it should be run by those who don’t fundamentally hate the concept of government.
I am a Democrat because laws discriminating against gay relationships share something in common with a constitutional amendment banning flag-burning: Neither is necessary to preserve the Republic, but both serve as loud distractions from the important issues that affect us all.
I am a Democrat because human rights, the freedom of man, and the rule of law are the foundations of our country’s greatness, and any fear-based compromise of such principles is both shortsighted and dangerous.
I am a Democrat because no leader should impede any life-saving science or be dismissive of life-threatening environmental problems.
I am a Democrat because I know that there are more people harmed by defective products, medical mistakes, and bad-faith acts by insurance companies than there are frivolous lawsuits filed; and that no liability insurance company has yet proportionately lowered premiums in exchange for laws passed by Republicans that unfairly limit a deserving victim’s damages.
I am a Democrat because I don’t blame the poor for their plight, nor will I ignore company owners who acquire vast wealth by abusing their workers.
I am a Democrat because the just and Biblical aspirations to “feed the hungry, cure the sick, and comfort the comfortless” each require direct action which does not result from “trickle down” schemes invented to reward the “haves” and leave the “have nots” at their mercy.
I am a Democrat because I realize that America is made safer by closer cooperation with our allies and greater diplomatic engagement with our enemies.
I am a Democrat because I believe that the rich can take care of themselves pretty well, but that the poor and disadvantaged need and deserve the help of a compassionate government.
I am a Democrat because history teaches that organized labor was created to counter corporate greed and abuse, not the other way around.
I am a Democrat because it is hard not to see a causal relationship between lead-tainted toys flooding our markets and a gutting of the Consumer Products Safety Commission budget and staff.
I am a Democrat because my Party proudly has a long tradition of African-American, Latino, and other minority members serving as active meaningful participants and not merely acting as props at national conventions and televised events.
I am a Democrat because dictating foreign policy to others at gunpoint while creating greater animosity with, and isolation from, the rest of the world are things that should be avoided, not praised.
I am a Democrat because I know that my life will not change dramatically if I don’t receive another upper income bracket tax cut, yet I am certain that a child somewhere would benefit from a hot lunch and a better education purchased with those dollars.
I am a Democrat because our current candidates and our next nominee serve as an example that neither race nor gender is a bar to leadership.
I am a Democrat because it is undeniably clear that equal justice, protection of consumers, and correction of corporate misdeeds can only be enforced by strong and fair government regulation and by unfettered access to our courts.
I am a Democrat because most that would disagree with that last statement have only a profit motive for doing so.
I am a Democrat because I am ashamed of the nexus between record oil prices and historically high profits for Exxon/Mobil on the one hand; and on the other, a Republican President and VP who were each in the “oil bidness” and who openly support an increased fossil-fuel energy policy and special tax incentives for oil companies.
I am a Democrat because I know that human suffering and lost opportunity are greater problems than either the size of my government or the amount of my stock dividends.
I am a Democrat because I am proud that we are a nation of immigrants, whose strengths and talents have resulted in the strongest and most diverse society on earth; and because I know that we will not be stronger tomorrow by building fences and jails for those who seek a better life in our country.
I am a Democrat because I also understand that compassionate aid, rather than constant artillery, does more to enhance America’s global standing.
I am a Democrat because it is a fundamental rule of henhouse guarding that you don’t put the fox in charge, which Republicans happily enjoy doing; as in routinely placing industry cronies as heads of environmental protection, security regulation, mine safety and other agencies that were created to protect us and not their livelihoods.
I am a Democrat because I believe that both dissent and diversity are signs of strength, and that policies that discourage either are signs of a nation’s weakness.
I am a Democrat because the above political and social beliefs are not embraced to protect my own personal wealth or position, yet none of them preclude me or anyone else from creating and enjoying great economic success as a result of innovative or hard effort.
I am a Democrat because at my fundamental core, I like people more than things. Because I think that my having money does not mean that others don’t deserve a decent life. Because I feel that there is more power in hope than in fear.
If you don’t agree with me on any or all of my reasons for being a Democrat, that’s not only perfectly fine, but it is also why we have a two-party system and a First Amendment.
But if you do feel empathy with the beliefs above, the next time some condescending elephant-in-the-room asks you disdainfully: “Why are you a Democrat?” I can only hope that you answer them with an equal amount of conviction and pride.
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