Sunday, May 28, 2006

Are You A Democrat ?

I've watched the Democratic Party be attacked by mainstream media and progressives for some time now, and there are aspects that are beginning to tick me off. No message, no nerves, no basis to exist...

No basis to exist? Yup, that's what I said. There seems to be an idea that there is no unifying concept of Democrat. Several times I've read some near variation on this theme, " You can't state why you're a Democrat simply. The idea is that a Party's members should be able to state in a sentence or two why they're members. OK, can you?

I can. I can because I don't expect my political party to run in lockstep on all the minutiae.

I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party stands for social and economic justice and the expansion of civil liberties.

That's pretty darn straightforward. Not a lot of ifs and buts, not a bunch of negatives, a plain statement of principles. The weekend of June 2-4 the Democratic Party of Oregon will have its Platform Convention. There will be quite a few statements of Platform Principles, but if you were to boil them down to their essence, that's what you'd have. It really isn't too complicated to look at my simple statement and make comparison to "the other Party." That isn't what this is about, it also isn't about, "We're not them," as a campaign strategy. The total concern I have about being a Democrat versus a Republican is actually being what I said and using that to remove the Republicans' nasty version of political thinking from power. I said removed from power, I think it's real important for a bunch of them to remain in government, a potent reminder of who and what they are.

I'm real sure a bunch of you have different versions of "why I'm a Democrat," but you also need to be able to express it in one to two sentences. No, that certainly will not cover all the nuances, but nuances are not why, they're an aspect of. Nuances, here's where the going gets sticky, because I am for economic justice I am against an artificially created labor glut in the blue collar wage market, that would be illegal immigrants. I recognize that a choice has to be made between two groups and I choose the group that has done everything the right way. It is not a contradiction. I'm allowed to continue being a Democrat and not appease illegal immigrants.

If we bog down in nuances, we can't define ourselves. If we can't define ourselves we cannot offer ourselves as an alternative. This is the attack line of the media, and yes we're under attack. We also have probably invited this attack. I will not go into the politics of our "leaders" beyond asking if they pass a simple test, do they fit our definition of Democrat. How can we expect the voters to give a rat's ass about our Party if it is not something definable? If I say I want to buy a car, I certainly do not expect to have a bulldozer as a choice.

So here's an offer of something to while away some idle time with, give a definition of Democrat that takes 1-2 sentences, and have it ready to offer up whenever that kind of question comes up. If you happen to be a politician, I seriously hope you get asked.


sasha said...

Other political movements that stood for "social justice:"

Stalinist communism,
Maoist communism,
Nazi fascism,
Mugabe's Zimbabwe,
Castro communism,

The problem with "social justice" as a goal is that it requires the coercive power of the state to re-fashion society. It always and everywhere results in totalitarianism.

So, that is why you are a Democrat? Very good - you have at least admitted to everyone that you support totalitarianism.

At least you are being honest. Your comrades try to fly their social justice schemes under the banner of "progressivism.

Anonymous said...

The idiot who commented before me besides, my reason has always been:

I am a Democrat because I believe in equality for all, opportunity for all and I believe that government can be a powerful force to give the average citizen a decent life.

sasha said...

Hey great response there, anonymous! Call me an idiot. That settles it. Don't have to address any of my points that way.

Do you deny that the regimes I listed had social justice as their rallying cry?

Or are you just ignorant of history?

Anonymous said...

I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party stands for social and economic justice and the expansion of civil liberties.
JK: Just what I am also for.
But why are local democrats trying to force me out of my car and into slow, inconvenient mass transit? And why are they refusing to increase road capacity as we increase population? And why is mono culture, critter unfriendly, farm land more important than people needing affordable housing?

Why are local democrats promoting skinny houses and apartment farms in every neighborhood?

Why are local democrats (on the city council) shoveling 1/2 billion dollars to Homer and his buddies to support high density in North Macadam? (all of which would other wise go to basic city and county services?)


Jennifer said...

I am a Democrat because Democratic victories like fair wages and strong public schools gave me the opportunity to realize my potential and live in a more fair and just world. I feel it's only right to hold that door open for generations behind me.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Green because I believe in the values of peace, social and personal responsibility, grassroots democracy and ecological wisdom.

It is unfortunate that the Democrats fall short on all these ideals which is why I am not a Democrat.

Steven Maurer said...

When someone's "points" are so obviously contra-factual as to be ludicrous, the designation of idiot is more than deserved. So yes, Sasha, you are an idiot.

The Nazis did not have "social justice" as a rallying cry. Their main appeals were to conservative Christian theology, German nationalism, and a hatred of liberal Jewish "immorality".

Here's a typical passage:

My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.... When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom to-day this poor people is plundered and exploited.
-Adolf Hitler, April 12, 1922

Further, you engage in the classic falacy of False Analogy. Simply because some Communist Dictators tried to justify their heinous crimes by pretending to be in favor of "Social Justice", does not make everyone who claims to be in favor of Social Justice to be dictatorial. (Hitler loved little children - does that mean everyone who likes little children are equivalent to the evil of Hilter?)

Go away, idiot.

Pete Forsyth said...

In 2006, I am a Democrat because the Democratic party is the only institution that has a credible shot at saving democracy.

My answer used to be more interesting than that, but things have changed since Bush has been in office.

Anonymous said...

i'm a democrat because i don't think rich people are the only ones who deserve a fair shake.

LIttle Fish Big Pond said...

I am a Democrat because only the Democrats believe in ALL rights included in the Bill Of Rights and for all people regardless of any differences.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Democrat because it is inherently unfair that wealth and income is distributed so unevenly in the United States, and the Democratic Party wants to increase the taxes on wealthy people and give the money to the less well off.

Dennis said...

I am a Democrat, because I have been too lazy to reregister Republican. I'll hit the courthouse and send in my Oregon Republican league papers Thursday. Both my parents were Democrats, though two of my brothers and a sister reregistered Republican before the last general election. I'm now ready to admit that my parent's party has left us.

I was surprised the poster is from Baker Co. I am from just South myself.

It is now the Republican party that is the party of social and economic justice, though by more "equality of access/opportunity" means.


Leo Schuman said...

Amongst other important reasons, I am a registered Democrat, and active in my party, because - generally speaking - Democrats demand special rights for heterosexual couples less often than Republicans.

I wish I could agree with 'Little Fish' that only Democrats believe in all rights for all people. But, I hear some Democrats mumble about "civil unions", and wonder when the separate (but "equal") GLBT water fountains go in down in Salem.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Democrat because Democrats think capitalism isn't as good a system as a more government-controlled economy where resources can be allocated where they will do the most social good and not just chasing profits for greedy business owners.

Democrats want everyone to have high paying jobs and so will force businesses to pay more. Democrats want to tax businesses more so poor people won't go hungry.

SergeiRostov said...

"But why are local democrats trying to force me out of my car and into slow, inconvenient mass transit?"

Hmm, straw man, anyone?

Besides, mass transit done properly is faster AND more convenient - for example, it's faster and more convenient to rail into downtown Chicago from the northern suburbs than to go by car - as well as more energy efficient: a mass transit rail line transports people at up to 25 times less cost than a superhighway.

"And why are they refusing to increase road capacity as we increase population?"

Decades of experience and mathematical analysis have shown than adding more lanes past 10 only slows traffic (thus reducing capacity), due to disproportionately more time spent changing lanes. Not to mention the commercial and business space that would have to be destroyed in order to make any increases in lane number.

"And why is mono culture, critter unfriendly, farm land more important than people needing affordable housing?"

"Why are local democrats promoting skinny houses and apartment farms in every neighborhood?"

Because it it more efficient to grow up than grow out (for example, energy spent transporting goods and workers is less It also by definition take up less space and is less costly ,which addresses your farmland-vs.-housing
question (and by the way, dems in general are working towards diverse-culture and critter-friendly farming, something which Reps rarely if ever do).

As far as why I am a Democrat, to me it's simple: Whenever something good has happened in goverment, it's because A Democrat (or someone acting like a Democrat) made it happen.

But you wanted it more specific, so...

I am a Democrat because the Democratic Party believes government exists to help all people do better.


Bert Lowry said...

I am a Democrat because:

I believe government exists to help people solve problems and realize opportunities that are too big to tackle individually.

I believe government exists to safeguard our rights, property and freedoms, not limit them.

I believe all Americans should have equal opportunity for success.

Anonymous said...

I am a Democrat because I believe our greatest endeavors are our common ones.

I worry sometimes that the Party might become to beholden to the xenophobes and ultracapitalists that could lead to support for evil regimes like the ones listed by Sasha above; at the moment, such corruption, hatred, and moral bankruptcy is mostly evident in the GOP.

The Democratic Party is closest to some of these ideals that I hold dear: respect for the commons; liberalism (which I see as being open to ideas and evaluating them on the basis of evidence and rational discourse); fairly allocating risk (making entities internalize their actual costs--making polluters pay and employers pay unemployment insurance premiums, for example)--which places most of the risk on risk atkers); universal, single-payer health care; fair, managed trade; respect for working people. Not all Democrats hold these ideals, much less go to the mat for them, but virtually no Republicans do. Why people want other people who aren't interested in governing to govern is beyond me.

The Thieving Monkey said...

In general, I agree with the previous anonymous poster (3:58p.m. "I am a Democrat because I believe our greatest endeavors are common ones"), although I lean more towards free trade than he. On the issue of why people want people to govern who aren't interested in governing, I think there is more to this. Sure, people whose entirely ideology about governing is that less is always better don't have much to work with if they are actually in power. They are more effective in the "no-no" minority party role than governing. Because of their ideology, it is extremely easy for them to become kakistocrats (kakistocracy is government by those least able to govern). They bring no positive agenda to governing. All they have are normative goals about reducing the size of government. Democrats, however, recognize the power of government, suitably applied, to increase equality of opportunity and reduce the huge power differentials between the rich and poor. Democrats can use government effectively to help the country and all Republicans want to do is destroy government by cutting funding for programs and then asking why the same programs they cut are not performing well and using that as an excuse for further cuts.

james said...

I agree with Bert Lowry.

I am a democrat because I believe it is the responsibility of government (read: the people) to make society more just. And I believe in the power of collective effort and strength.

good idea for a thread. I will continue reading.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Democrat anymore, since I don't like people who kill and murder unborn children as my leaders. That's not social justice.

Pete Forsyth said...

Hey Anonymous,

Are you claiming both that:

(1) Most Democratic elected officials have had (or performed) abortions, and
(2) No Republican elected officials have had (or performed) abortions?

If so, I question the basis of your claim. If not, your characterization is very misleading.

It's a fact that your views are shared by a minority of citizens, so it's to be expected that both parties (which are by nature opportunistic) will make compromises on this issue.

I'm not gonna knock your beliefs, but everybody believes that abortion is a form of murder. It doesn't mean we think abortion is a great option, but equating it with murder is something YOU do - and maybe SOME Republicans, but certainly not everyone.

There are lots of laws in this country that offend my sense of morality, too...but I try to stay civil in discussing them. (Sometimes it's hard though, when your leaders have put your country in a "crusade" in order to line their own pockets.)

Pete Forsyth said...

er...NOT everybody believes that abortion is a form of murder. Is what I meant to say.

t.a. said...

i am a Democrat in part because of people like Chuck: good people who encourage me to stick with the party and make it better.

i'm also a Democrat because social justice is not gained thru coercive power but thru the work of citizens to bring justice to their society. it's citizens who coerce the govt to act justly, as did Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP when they brought Brown before the Supreme Court.

i'm a Democrat because of Howard Dean and Paul Wellstone and Bobby Kennedy.

i'm a Democrat because my parents, good people, were Democrats and their example strikes me as one to emulate.

i'm a Democrat because we fall no more short of the great goals of a just society than the Greens or anyone else. we fall only as short as we allow ourselves to fall, and so far, here in Oregon, no one has given up. the prize is still there to be gained, and we will continue to work and reach and dream.

Steve Bucknum said...

JK said,

"But why are local democrats trying to force me out of my car and into slow, inconvenient mass transit? And why are they refusing to increase road capacity as we increase population? And why is mono culture, critter unfriendly, farm land more important than people needing affordable housing?

Why are local democrats promoting skinny houses and apartment farms in every neighborhood?

JK - you have done a typical, but incorrect thing here. You blame Democrats for those decisions that you don't like that were bi-partisan. In other words, you have an anti-Democrat bias, perhaps feed by the likes of Lars Larson.

Oregon's land use laws were inspired by the leadership of Republican Tom McCall. The legislature that passed these laws, were bi-partisan in their efforts. The goals of Oregon's land use laws (which I happen to in parts disagree with) call for increasing urban density to preserve farms and open spaces. Consequence - skinny houses and the need for mass transportation because we have too dense a population for conventional roads to handle. Democratic decisions?? NO. Supported by Democrats?? YES. Supported by Republicans?? YES.

This is the same logic that is used to say inane things such as "Democrats want to take you guns away" (they don't), or "Democrats are against Christians" (inane).

As for Chuck's definition of being a Democrat - I agree 100%.

Thanks Chuck!

KevinHayden said...

I'm a Democrat because I live in a country with a two party system and of those two, the Democratic one has a far better record of levelling the playing field so the marginalized, disadvantaged and the working poor can get a break.

And I figure it'll take a lot of people similar to me to keep it true to that legacy.

Chuck Butcher said...

sasha, you don't like the inclusion of "social justice" in my little "because" satement, what you seem to have ignored is the inclusion of "expansion of civil liberities" part. Your list of "demon"isms does not have a single example that has included expansion of civil liberties. I will also point out to you that one of those civil liberties is the right to keep and bear arms and your list would be very short of members with that one exercised.