Why are we Democrats? Why would anyone endure meetings, phone calling, door knocking, and raising money for a political party? Why be a Democrat now, especially since partisanship has such a bad reputation? It seems more noble to claim independence from political parties, to stay away from the fray and frustration that always comes when a group of people try to make something happen. So why be a Democrat.
I hike in the Smoky Mountains frequently. While climbing the steep, rocky Bote Mountain trail, the answer to that question came to me. Looking at the mountains, the trees, the flowers, and even the rocks, I was struck by their beauty. Certainly, I did not wish to drill there, log there, or sell lots to rich homeowners there. Democrats love the environment. Which pointed the way to why anyone would want to be a Democrat.
Democrats love. Now, all people love, even Republicans. So how are we different as Democrats in how we love? Again, being in the wilderness reminds me of the five great pillars of humanity, all of which came from the wilderness. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism all provide answers to the question of how Democrats are different than Republicans. There are differences between the two parties. Both love- but the object of their love is slightly different.
Love alone is not enough. It is very easy to love only those who are look like us, think like us, and agree with us. The harder love is to care, passionately, about those who are different. Democrats do. As Christianity teaches, we love regardless of who they are, what they wear, what religion they are, what their sexuality is, and how much they are worth in the economic scale of our society. We create policies that reflect that love. Compassionate ones for those who need compassionate, humane ones for those who need rehabilitation, and ladders so those on the bottom may climb up; these are the policies that reflect our love.
This brings us to another great pillar, one that comes from Islam. Justice. Again, all people have a sense of justice, but Islam is centered on justice. As usual, this begs the question, how are we different from Republicans who also believe in justice? Two words come to mind- social justice. Social, which implies an organized group of people who determines who gets what and justice, which explicitly states this distribution must be fair. So, Democrats, for example, believe health care is the right for all people while Republicans believe it is an individual problem and thus one must pay for their own health care. Yet the love we just spoke of and the justice we just mentioned demands Democrats create legislation which provides a fair distribution of the wealth our society creates. Fair wages for honest work- health care that all people have access to – decent housing for all people to live in; these are what Democrats fight for. We fight for social justice. We see racial and religious targeting in America which we, the Democratic Party, then actively oppose at all levels.
Finally, in a third great pillar, we find another reason why we are Democrats. Judaism teaches us acceptance. As it teaches, they were once slaves and foreigners, therefore they welcome the refugee, the migrant, and those who come into their land seeking hope. Quite starkly, the Democrats believe this while the Republicans do not. They build walls while we construct doors in their walls. They create laws to keep them alien while we accept the foreign with the same love and justice we show to all Americans. We, Democrats, believe this. We do not fear the loss of our American identity because we believe America’s identity has been built by immigrants since our founding. While Republicans preach fear- we preach acceptance.
Love – social justice- acceptance. Why are we Democrats? Because of those three qualities. American political parties are not the same- they are different. Democrats are not Republicans. We create legislation that embodies these three qualities so all people in our land thrive without fear.
That is why we sit on committees, call people on phone banks, knock on doors in the rain and sun, go to meetings, listen to speeches, and then go to the voting booth and vote Democrat. Join us. Walk the walk. Get on the trail despite the rocks – the dust & mud – the steepness of the climb and make a positive difference. Be a Democrat.
- Eric Keller, Anderson County Democratic Party Chair