On Being a Democrat
I do not handle confrontation well. My mother taught me, just as her mother taught her, don't make waves. Avoid talking about politics and religion. Keep your mouth shut and get along.
I’ve done my best.
I’ve stood by my belief that the relationships I have with my friends and family are more important than our differing political views. I believed that what happens in our day to day lives is more real than the abstractions in Washington D.C. and on Wall Street. My biggest wish was for my Facebook friends to keep political engagement light so that we could enjoy peace.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, I slowly watched my feed get enveloped by the political machine. I saw blatant propaganda being shared as though it were news. And even though I didn’t post my own beliefs or engage in comment wars, I didn’t feel any more connected to the people in my life; I felt less so. Additionally, as friends and family members posted hostile things that questioned the intelligence of “Libtards” or people whose views tilted left, I felt personally insulted.
I literally (not figuratively) felt the urge to challenge some of these people to an IQ test. I’m not even kidding right now, you guys. I had this vivid image of myself sitting across the table from someone whilst angrily filling out scantron bubbles thinking, “call me stupid again, mother f*@ker!”
This is not healthy.
So I would like to take the opportunity to tell any of the Republicans in my life (and there are many) who took the low road and insulted me for my political beliefs, perhaps without knowing it: I am not a stupid person. If you would like to have an IQ battle with me, I’ve got my sharpened #2 pencils ready. Bring it.
I don’t think the problem is that people who know me think I am stupid, though. I think the problem is more likely you make assumptions about all Democrats and don’t understand what being a Democrat means to me. Thus, this post. I’m done being quietly misunderstood. If you read this and still think I’m an idiot, then at least you’ll have made an informed decision.
Here are 10 of the reasons I choose to be a Democrat:
1. I believe in the equality of all human beings. People should not be treated differently based on how they look, on whether they are boys or girls, on what religion they choose (or don’t choose) to practice, on how much money they have in the bank, or on who they love. Freedom and equality are the founding principles of this country. They are what make me most proud to be an American.
2. I believe we have a duty to not trash our environment. Climate change aside, there are real consequences to poisoning the earth, air, and water that we depend on to survive. Cancer is one of those consequences. As a childhood cancer survivor, this is not a small issue for me. The idea that my children could do their very best to live a healthy lifestyle and still get sick because the air they breathe or the water they drink has been poisoned is beyond depressing. We owe our planet and the people who will come after us basic stewardship.
3. I believe some people could really use our help, especially the elderly, the disabled, and children. Judging from the misinformation I’ve seen fly by on my feed, there is a lot to be learned about entitlement programs. To be clear, I find the practice of able-bodied people choosing not to work and instead soaking off the labor of others to be a shameful way to live. However, the bulk of money spent on entitlement programs is spent to help the elderly. For example, Medicare is an entitlement program.
Did you know that Medicare is universal healthcare? I know a lot of people don’t think about it that way, but that’s exactly what it is. Only, for the most part, you have to be 65 or disabled to be covered. Medicare is an expensive proposition because it covers people at the time in their lives when they most need healthcare. Without coverage, paying for things like knee replacements and heart surgeries would be cost prohibitive for our seniors. Their choices would be to keep working until they died, pay premiums that would be outrageous because of their age bracket, liquidate all of their assets including the house they spent their entire lives paying for, or live with the pain/die earlier. That doesn’t seem very nice.
Did you know that the bulk of Medicaid, another entitlement program, is also spent on the elderly? Nursing homes are mad expensive. Without the government stepping in to house seniors whose families are unable to care for them on their own, what is their other option? Alzheimer patients left at home to wander off, forget to eat, or burn the house down? Bedridden people left alone all day while their loved ones go to work? I mean, honestly, what’s the plan for these people if we don’t help them as a society? Will you have enough money in the bank at the end of your career to pay for someone to take care of you full time if you can no longer take care of yourself? What about if something happened to you right now and you could no longer work?
4. I believe that healthcare is a basic human right. The idea that if a child breaks her arm after falling off the monkey bars that we wouldn’t fix it if her parents couldn’t afford to pay a surgeon or that an elderly man with diabetes who can’t afford insulin or glucose testing supplies should be left to die is just not okay. We live in a civilized society with the resources to care for these people without putting their lives in financial ruin. What does that say about us if we do nothing for them?
5. I believe the minimum wage should be a livable wage. The argument that a cashier does not deserve to make enough money to support herself and her children, even if she works full time, because she didn’t get a good enough education to get a better job is a disgraceful argument. Not everyone is lucky enough to have the means or the intellectual capacity to get through college or other specialized training programs. Plus, if these people aren’t paid a livable wage, can you guess where they turn for help if they can’t afford food or healthcare? Public assistance. The taxpayers are expected to help support the employees of large corporations. Because of this, corporations are able to pay millions of dollars to top leadership while not paying those at the bottom enough to pay their rent. This isn’t fair to anyone: not the employee, not the taxpayer that is expected to pick up the slack.
6. I believe a mostly male government has no business trying to dictate what a woman does with her own body.
7. I believe in the 1st Amendment and freedom of the press. I depend on people uncovering the truth and keeping people in power accountable for their actions.
8. I believe in the 2nd Amendment. People have the right to have weapons with which to hunt and to protect their people and property. In fact, as a person who grew up watching the movie Red Dawn, I’m depending on our military, our retired military, and our armed citizens to protect us if we ever get invaded by the Russians or any other power hungry regime. However, I think people convicted of violent crimes or who have serious mental health diagnoses that indicate they are mentally unstable should not be able to buy a machine gun on a whim, no questions asked.
9. I believe we should have a strong military to protect us and the people around the world who have no one to stand up for them. However, I don’t believe that our military should be wielded for personal gain and the use of extreme force should be taken very seriously.
10. I believe in access to quality education. Without the ability to comprehend the world around us as a result of historical reflection or an understanding of what constitutes scientific discovery, people are less able to make informed decisions. They don’t develop the ability to review each new piece of information with a skeptical eye, nor do they recognize their role in the larger context of civilization.
To be honest, if I had more faith in humanity, I’d be a libertarian. We should not have to depend on an incredibly fallible government to tell us how to live. We shouldn’t need all these rules and regulations telling us how to be decent. Unfortunately, history has proven repeatedly that human beings, when left to their own devices, don’t always make the right choices.
Corporations have poisoned water supplies, they’ve let people die from faulty products because the cost of recalls are higher than the cost of lawsuits, they’ve sold us medications that they knew caused more harm than good, they’ve discriminated against people based on gender, age, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation. Time and again people have proven that without rules, they will screw their fellow man for money. Pure capitalism, with no regulations, paves the way for snake oil salesmen on a global scale. Wall street left unchecked leads to depressions and recessions. Greed and a desire for power can cause people to make incredibly bad choices.
Call me a bleeding heart liberal all you want. I’m a nurse and a mother. I care about people. I care about the world we share. I don’t believe money or the pursuit of it should be the driving force in all of the decisions we make. If that makes me stupid in your opinion, well, you’re entitled to it. But, I bet I could still kick your ass in a game of Words With Friends.
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I like to throw things.