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What makes us Democrats?

What makes them Republicans?

It's a fascinating question. Some argue that our socialization as children by our parents shapes our partisan affiliation. And certainly, this is part of it. But there are those who buck their parents and those who change party affiliation over their lifetime.

So for those of us who have been Democrats all of our lives and would rather move to China than become Republicans, what makes us fundamentally Democrats?

Yes, we support Democratic policies over Republican ones. And we may even support our candidates more because they're just better people.

We support raising the minimum wage, getting everyone health care, supporting better education, protecting the environment, supporting civil and equal rights, preserving our Constitutional liberties, building alliances and pursuing diplomacy outside our borders. But what joins these ideas? What is our Democratic philosophy that makes us believe in these policies?

I believe that we Democrats believe in two fundamental ideas. The first is the idea of the American Dream. We Democrats believe that at the very core of America lies an idea that if you are a good person, you help others, you work hard, and you play by the rules, it doesn't matter what your race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, age, or disability is, but you too, in this great, meritocratic, tolerant, generous, and forgiving society that is America, can succeed and give your children better than what you had. This fundamental idea is why we Democrats support a better education, health care for all, support immigrants, want to promote tolerance, respect, and diversity, oppose poverty, and want everyone to have a good-paying job.

The second idea in which we fundamentally believe is the Constitution. To us Democrats, we view this document as a sacred scroll, one that provides us with guidance, directs our moral compass, and provides a framework for how we interact with our fellow citizens in society. We take that preamble seriously, and believe in "form[ing] a more perfect union." We believe in that Bill of Rights, that tell us that generally people can say or practice or express whatever they want, unless they are harming someone else, without any interference from the government, and beyond that, with a great deal of respect and healthy discourse from those that oppose your ideas. This constitution, for which we as Democrats dedicate ourselves, charges us with a civic duty to protect the foundational ideas of our country from radical change from any ideology.

And what do the Republicans believe? I believe, and I can't say for sure because I am not a Republican, that they also support two fundamental ideas as well. Those two ideas are the free market and the Bible. Republicans fundamentally believe in the greatness of the free market and the power it possesses, which leads them to mistrust any government intervention in the economy, through taxes, regulations, or spending. But this idea of the free market extends to social life as well, and tells them that diversity, tolerance, and respect must be met by the forces of social supply and demand, and government should not try to promote liberty and tolerance in places where the political and social marketplace won't accept it. When you tie this belief to a fundamental belief in the divinity and infallibility of the Bible, you get a Republican who believes that the word of Adam Smith and God are the will that they must follow. Their mindset is a core adherence to these principles.

Now I am not trying to say that Republicans don't also support the American Dream and the Constitution. They surely do. And Democrats certainly take the free market and the Bible extremely seriously and follow them too. But the priority of Democrats is to follow the Constitution over the Bible in our political lives, and we believe fundamentally that the free market is a means to the American Dream, not the other way around.

What do you guys think?


Kipp! said...

I thought we were united by our love of sodomy and recreational abortion?

Seriously though, Adam poses some interesting questions, and this is an important discussion for Dems to have, especially now that we find ourselves in a position to engage in proactive politics after spending years on the defensive. So I'll chip in my two cents on what I view to be our crucial differences:

They resent government interference in the economy, while we resent it in matters of religion and personal morality.

They mistrust the conglomeration of government power, while we generally mistrust uncheck wielding of corporate power.

They view economic status as the result of one's personal initiative & ability, or lack thereof, and think that the playing field is already sufficiently level; Democrats, however, are more likely to note societal and environmental causes, and point to vast differences in educational opportunity as determinant of economic status.

Finally, they view the criminal justice system as a tool to punish the morally depraved and keep them off the streets, while Democrats view it as a potential means of rehabilitation and stress the need to address crime's underlying causes.

Just some thoughts.