I wasn’t sure I wanted to get political on this blog, but this is on my mind so it’s showing up here. I will refrain, however, from delving deeply into the pros and cons of the various candidates. I will hold myself back from saying that Sarah Palin is a strident, smug, sarcastic woman whose speeches sound more like angry stand-up comedy than problem-solving ideas. I will resist the urge to point out that John McCain’s “straight talk” is about as forward moving as the Teacup Ride at Disneyworld. I will not discuss Joe Biden’s place in my heart as one of my all-time favorite politicians, smartass though he may be at times. And I certainly will not be writing about the way Barack Obama makes me believe he really can heal the world, with our help.
No, instead I want to speak in more general, philosophical terms. Who is running is somewhat secondary to the ideas behind the two sides, and never before in my lifetime have the two sides been more (pardon the pun) black and white.
I am a Democrat because of my values. The principles which I hold dear and, yes, would fight for are the same ones espoused by Democrats.
1) I value civil liberties. It literally brought a chill to my spine when Sarah Palin thought it was some kind of punch line to state that Barack Obama wants to make sure we have read terrorists their rights. It brought an even deeper chill when thousands of Republican delegates applauded in response. There is a little concept called “liberty and justice FOR ALL” which I (call me old-fashioned) still believe is at the core of American values.
2) I value the people of America over the government, industries, and institutions of America. The Republicans have a foundational belief that if they take care of business, business will take care of the people. The Democrats believe that if you take care of the people, the people will take care of business. You only have to compare the booming economy under Democrats with the floundering economy under Republicans to see which idea has proved true.
3) I value the Constitution. Never in my life have I seen our Constitution take such as beating as it has over the past eight years. The Patriot Act was the most grossly misnamed bill to ever cross a President’s desk. It is not patriotism to infringe on the basic rights of privacy and due process afforded us by a system that has held strong for 230 years.
4) I value human rights. The Republicans seem hell-bent on restricting rights while Democrats would expand them. Republicans want to tell people how to live. Democrats want to help people live their best lives in their own unique and creative ways.
5) I value the separation of church and state. Regardless of what a person thinks their bible or their preacher tells them about gay marriage, the issue of marriage in our society is a civil issue. So many issues – abortion, gay rights, faith-based initiatives, gun control, the death penalty – seem to be influenced heavily by the bellows of the religious right. In the same way that we do not let a Koran or the Tao determine who gets the benefits of our society, neither should we allow the Christian Bible or the Torah. America seems to have arrived at a point where all presidential candidates have to undergo a religious vetting process. Our increasing flirtation with theocracy scares the hell out of me ever so much more than any of my grandfather’s sermons ever did.
6) I believe in the strength of diversity. All you have to do is recall the audience shots from the two conventions to see who has this area covered. During the Democratic convention, CNN ran little tidbits of trivia across the bottom of the screen. These included what percentage of Asians, African-Americans, Gays and Lesbians, Hispanics, and people with disabilities were included among the Democratic delegates to the convention. Those statistics were glaringly absent during the Republican National Convention. Perhaps it was too embarassing to announce that “0.03% of delegates are (fill in the blank with something other than white).”
There are more reasons why I’m a Democrat, but these are the biggies. And they are among the reasons why I will proudly cast my vote for Barack Obama and Joseph Biden this November 4th.