Proud Democrat

Living in a “Red” state, I’m often asked, “Why are you a Democrat?” or “Wouldn’t it be easier if you were a Republican?” For me the answer is easy. I’m a Democrat because I believe in “we,” not “me.” Our founding fathers started the Constitution with the word “We” for a purpose. Our individual liberty rests upon how justly we treat those around us. When Democrats are asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper,” the answer is yes. The Republican answer is too often no.

Social Security and Medicare illustrate the differences between the two political philosophies. Democrats designed these programs to prepare for the inevitable wear and tear of old age or misfortune. All working Americans pay taxes to support our seniors, widows, orphans and the disabled. These “single payer” programs provide a valuable safety net make sure all Americans can live with dignity.

Republicans, however, have been working since Barry Goldwater to dismantle these vital services. Just a few short years ago they spoke confidently about privatizing Social Security, eliminating the single payer model and letting individuals invest in the stock market. Wisely, Americans didn’t let selfishness destroy these two venerable institutions.

Democrats have also been leading the fight for consumer protections. We need to police the market place in the same way we police our streets. Some businesses—not all—will say and do anything to sell a product. Businessmen and women are human after all. Americans shouldn’t have to fear death when eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or taking hypertension medicine.

Republicans, on the other hand, have been the party of no regulation. Can you remember when the car industry fought against seat belts as unsafe or the tobacco industry denying the addictive nature of nicotine? Republican “cuts in government spending” and faith in the free market have crippled our consumer protection system. The Center for Disease Control has estimated that 5,000 Americans died from food poisoning every year.

Health insurance reform is the next big battle between the parties. The Republican solution is to let individuals experience the pain of the marketplace. If patients bear the costs directly instead of the insurance company—the theory goes—then the patients will cut back on healthcare. This approach would be penny wise but pound foolish. Which is cheaper to treat and correct—dental plaque or an abscessed tooth?

The Democrat solution is based on the idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The government should make healthcare more affordable not less. Patients need to see their doctor before complications arise and the cost of treatment mounts. When doctors know their patients, they can help prevent expensive and possibly life-threatening complications. All Americans should also be allowed to purchase Medicare. Unlike for-profit insurers, Medicare doesn’t have to pay advertisers or shareholders. It can offer the same healthcare coverage at lower costs to the consumer.

I firmly believe that we are stronger and more prosperous when we come together and look out for each other. I reject the idea that we are simply animals struggling with each other for scarce resources. Humans can and should do something positive to improve our world. By championing services for senior citizens, consumer protections, workplace safety, public education and Civil Rights the Democratic Party has earned my support. It may be hard to say so in a “Red State,” but it is my right and duty as an American to say it.

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