Could You Be A Democrat?
by Mary Schumacher
Although Democrats have been taking a beating at election time, polls keep indicating broad public support for Democratic ideas and ideals, and dissatisfaction with the direction and aims of Bush and his party. There seem to be a lot of people out there who, for one reason or another, don't know they're Democrats. If you have any of these people among your friends and acquaintances, you might want to pass along this statement of Democratic beliefs and values to help them realize who they really are:Considering all this, on which side do you think you really belong?
COULD YOU BE A DEMOCRAT?
Democrats believe in self government -- based in the widest possible participation of all citizens from all walks of life, as opposed to government controlled mostly or exclusively by elite and powerful, but limited, interests.
Democrats believe that government must be useful and responsive. They disdain empty grandiosity and dishonest pomp -- a staged landing on an aircraft carrier or a fake townhall, for instance -- designed to glorify officials and promote awe of government authority rather than respect for democracy and democratic power.
Democrats abhor (and will rebel against) government that is narrow, self-interested and authoritarian (the kind of government today's Republicans, or at least the limited, powerful interests who now control the party, seek).
Democrats believe that democratic government is the best tool ever devised to bring the diverse people, interests and resources of a complex society together to effectively solve common, society-wide problems or to achieve important society-wide goals.
Democrats don't "believe" in "big" government, but they do understand that solutions to big problems, or the achievement of big goals -– protecting the elderly, meeting our moral obligations to the vulnerable, disabled and ill, protecting natural resources, defending our homeland, exploring space, recovering from economic or natural disaster, finding solutions to our energy and other kinds of crisis, etc. -- require big resources that often can be most efficiently, or only, marshaled and distributed through government actions in which the people broadly participate and that they broadly support. Democrats believe in government big enough -- but no bigger than necessary -- to accomplish the job at hand.
Democrats believe the people have the right to, and, in the cause of protecting their liberty must, limit and protect themselves from ALL abuses of POWER -- whether it is the abuse of government power or private power.
Democrats differ from today's conservative Republicans in that they are idealists rather than ideologues. They believe in the inherent potential for good in people, and in the ability of people to create good by working together. They do not, like the Republicans, believe in their own moral superiority or in the absolute, infallible truth of their own ideas.
Democrats believe that there are sacred principles, but that there are no sacred ideas.
Democrats believe in individual rights, personal liberty and personal responsibility. But they believe equally in social responsibility, community service and public obligation. They understand that finding the right balance between these competing values –- between the rights of the private man and the obligations of the public citizen -- is one of the most important, and difficult, jobs of citizenship and politics.
Democrats are guided by undying moral and humanitarian principles rather than constantly changing social "values." These principles are honesty, fair play, social justice, economic morality, political equality, freedom of conscience, individual integrity, respect for others regardless of station in life, gender, race, religion or inherited resources and privilege, and, an undying commitment to self-government free of the authoritarian coercion of church, monarch or, in this modern age, corporate or other elite and unaccountable power.
Democrats are the inheritors of this nation's Enlightenment and revolutionary tradition. We represent the democratic passion of Tom Payne, the pragmatic problem solving of Ben Franklin, the self-confidence and faith in and respect for humanity expressed in the Declaration of Independence.
The Republicans, as they now are constituted, on the other hand, have chosen to align themselves with the Tory tradition of church, crown and military coercion. As well as with the Southern planter tradition of brutality and empty, self congratulatory "aristocracy."