I am, as I mentioned in the previous post in this little two-post series, basically a socialist. However, since there is no viable Socialist Party here in the USA, I have to settle for the next best thing, which is, admitedly, pretty darn great.
The Democratic Party is an old and storied one. Throughout the decades it’s been around, it’s gone through many changes. Initially very conservative and pro-slavery, it is now reasonably liberal, and a champion of human rights for all. Still, there are things they do that I don’t like, so here’s the list of pros and cons for my team.
1. The Democratic Party is basically rolling over and showing its soft, white underbelly when it comes to illegal immigration. We waffle, we waver and we don’t really follow-through on any viable changes to the current setup. This needs to be corrected and soon, but the sad part is, I think the Republicans have this issue correct and we don’t.
2. For to long the party has been a rubber stamp for all the horrible things George W has done to this country. Rather than standing up to him in Congress, we’ve basically been, well, pussies, and given him his own way on virtually everything. Yes, I know, we didn’t have the majority for the longest time, but now we do, and we still aren’t acting like the loyal opposition.
3. For a party big on civil rights, we are really not standing up for gay rights as much as we should. Yes, we’re not pushing for Amendments to outlaw gay marriage, but we certainly aren’t endorsing it (and a note to the Dems: civil unions aren’t the same thing as marriage. Seperate is not equal. Didn’t we learn this lesson already?). Credit where it’s due, both Obama and Hillary have made noises about lifting the ban on gays in the military. On the other hand, so did Bill Clinton, and that didn’t happen.
4. When, exactly, did we accept the notion that “liberal” is a dirty word? The Republicans turned it into one, we let them, and haven’t taken it back. This needs to change. This is connected to the next issue.
5. For some reason we keep letting the Republicans shape the debate and the arguements and we don’t fight back. They loudly shout about how wanting to pull out of Iraq is surrendering to the terrorists (see Mitt Romney’s remarks when he left the Presidential race)! We just roll over and go back to sleep. They smear the hell out of John Kerry’s war record. We don’t fight back. They talk about “extreme rendition” and “interrogation techniques” and we don’t shoot back with “kidnapping” and “torture”. Yes, this is them pandering to their base, and yes, it’s a lot of nonsense. But perception is reality, and if we continue to let the public perceive us as a pathetic lot who just bend over and take it, we aren’t going to win elections we should (2004, anyone?).
6. We don’t stand up for the poor often enough, and not in the ways we should. As it is, people who should be voting for us (like, say, poor red-state farmers), vote instead for the party who screws them over (for a great book on this subject, check What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America)
7. Why don’t we have universal health care? Why hasn’t this been a major issue until now? Yes, now something is being done. The UK has had universal health care since before my mother was born.
8. Basically all these complaints get summed up as: we aren’t standing up for our principles often enough. We’re too willing to cut the deal, to make the compromise, to set aside what needs to be done for what’s convenient. This is not a good thing. True, we don’t want to be zealous buffoons like the neo-cons, but we can and should stand up more than we do.
1. There are plenty of things the party does stand up for. We’re not about to let Roe v Wade be overturned. People may not like abortion, but we understand that it’s about choice.
2. We also are in favor of stem-cell research, as is most of the country. We’re pragmatic enough to recognize the benefits outweigh the problems.
3. We support and believe in science. We understand that evolution is the most likely answer for how we came to be, and that intelligent design is anything but. Even those of us who do like ID, for whatever reason, understand that religion needs to be kept out of our schools.
4. We are far more inclusive than the GOP. As I mentioned in my essay on them, we have a mixed-race man and a woman running for president, vs an old white man (I’m writting off Huckabee at this point).
5. The two worst wars in the 20th century, World War One and World War Two, were fought, and won, under the auspicies of Democratic presidents. Had Wilson not had a stroke, we probably would’ve had a better peace after WWI than we did, but regardless we certainly won the peace after WWII. Would we have done so well had Dewey won in 1944?
6. We understand and support the seperation of church and state. We understand that not everyone in this country is a Protestant. We, unlike George Bush Sr, don’t believe that atheists shouldn’t be considered Americans. We like the fact that we can have our beliefs and you can have yours.
7. We understand that rich people need to shoulder their share of the burden. Here’s how this works, people: if you earn $50 million a year in income, you can and should pay a higher rate, both in raw numbers and in percentage, than someone who earns $50,000 a year. This country enables you to earn that money, it is your obligation to help pay to maintain it.
8. We support and defend unions, though not as much as we should.
9. Officially we’re against the death penalty, though we don’t really make a lot of noise about it.
10. We’re more in favor of rehabilitating criminals, and trying to make them productive members of society, instead of just warehousing them forever in brutal conditions.
11. The world did not really change that much after September 11, 2001. We understand that it was a horrible abberation, and that your odds of being killed by a terrorist on 9/12 were just about the same as they were on 9/10, and that nothing that happened that day justifies rounding up people, holding them without trial, using torture, kidnapping civilians, invading Iraq (invading Afghanistan was fine in my book, and what Gore would’ve likely done), warrantless wiretaps, smearing and outting an undercover CIA opperative, passing the PATRIOT Act (though several Democrats voted for it, sadly), or any number of the other things the Bush adminstration has done. We understand that you should not give up real freedoms and morals for perceived improvements in security.
12. We grasp the notion that a real family is whatever you decide it is. It isn’t always one man, one woman, and a couple of kids.
13. We may not want teens having sex, but we understand that they probably will, and if they do, they need to know about condoms and other forms of birth control. Telling a kid about those doesn’t make it anymore likely that the kid will go out and have sex. That’s like saying telling your kid to wear a helmet if they choose go skatebording will increase the chances of them skatborading.
14. We know that freedom is important. We also know that some people are going to use their freedom in ways we don’t like. We’ll cringe a little, but we’ll stick up for their rights.
15. True reform and progress starts from the bottom. This is part of why we try to help out the poor as much as we do, in addition to the fact that it’s just right. To you Christian Republicans out there, what would Jesus do with the hungry and homeless? Would he tell them to get jobs? Or would he give them a place to live and food to eat and then help them find work? (yes, I just basically asked “What Would Jesus Do?” Argh)
16. Censorship is bad, and we understand this. I’d like to think that had the Crisis of Janet Jackson’s Nipple happened under our watch, the FCC wouldn’t have overreacted as they did.
True Americans stand up for freedom at home and abroad. They give a hand to those who need it. They stand up for the tired, the poor and the meek. They know that government, far from being a necessary evil, can actually be a postive and good thing. They also know that blindly following your government and not offering criticism when it’s called for is a bad thing.
True Americans also don’t resort to name-calling, scare-tactics, jingoism, lies and distortions to win elections. I won’t say Democrats haven’t done that, cause we have, from time-to-time. But what I will say is that while we’re minor practitioners of the art, the Republicans can teach the doctorate level courses. I’m not saying they’re un-Amercian or anything like that. I am saying they fear America in a lot of ways, especially the neo-cons.
I’m saying that the party that can, and will, restore this nation to the greatness is should have is the Democratic Party, and that’s why I vote for them. (and we’ll ignore any instances I’ve had in this essay of name-calling, scare-tactics, jingoism, lies and distortions) 😉