Democrats

I love Democrats.

Oh, there is plenty to lament over the long history of the Democratic Party. It hasn’t always been a party of inclusion, of hope, of promise for all.

But on Tuesday night it was my party, a party I could believe in, a party I could be proud to lock arms with, no matter the outcome in November.

I loved the night, full of speeches, from the Cincinnati firefighter, who turned from a Republican to a Democrat because of anti-union action by his state’s Republicans;

to Harry Reid, who still refuses to give up on Romney’s secret tax returns;

to former President Jimmy Carter, who Democrats are not ashamed of, unlike the convenient Republican allergy to George W. Bush;

to Joe Kennedy III, who is running to replace the venerable liberal Barney Frank;

to Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq and is now, not ironically, running for Congress in Illinois;

to Stacey Lihn, fighting to keep her emotions in check as she spoke of her daughter Zoe, who has congenital heart disease and whose vulnerability is why ObamaCare is not a political liability but a reason to celebrate because it provides such families with “security and relief“;

to Ted Strickland, former governor of Ohio, who told the truth about Romney by saying that, “to him, American workers are just numbers on a spreadsheet,” and that he “has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps.” He quoted the Bible, saying,

the scriptures teach us that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. My friends, any man who aspires to be our president should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America. And it’s well past time for Mitt Romney to come clean with the American people.

Strickland said that President Obama “stands up for average working people” and “now, by God, we will stand up for him.” He said the President is an “economic patriot,” and the differences between him and Mitt Romney are such that we can’t “sit this one out.”

I loved Kathleen Sebelius extoling the virtues of “ObamaCare,” which she called a “badge of honor,” adding accurately that such laws “reflect the best of our values.”

I loved Lilly Ledbetter who celebrated the first bill President Obama signed into law, one named after her and that, “because of his leadership, women who faced pay discrimination like I did will now get their day in court.”

I was exceedingly impressed by the rousing speech delivered by the governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, who followed Romney in that job. He attacked Republican philosophy, but admonished his own party:

If we want to win elections in November and keep our country moving forward, if we want to earn the privilege to lead, it’s time for Democrats to stiffen our backbone and stand up for what we believe.

Backbones, I believe, were stiffened.

I enjoyed meeting future Democratic star Julián Castro, whose orphaned grandmother from Mexico with a fourth-grade education came to America and worked hard, raising a daughter who would be the first in her family to graduate from college, the daughter in turn raising two sons, one now the mayor of San Antonio and the other on his way to Congress this fall.

Then there was Michelle Obama.

Earlier in the day my 17-year-old son had asked me what were the essential differences between Republicans and Democrats. Mrs. Obama began to explain those differences with this:

Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.

And he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

Yes! That’s it. “Give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” That’s who we are as Democrats.

But that’s not all of it.

I couldn’t explain the ultimate difference between Democrats and Republicans better than Michelle Obama did in this passage from the finest speech, from beginning to end, I have ever heard given at a political convention:

He’s the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work. Because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.

He’s the same man who, when our girls were first born, would anxiously check their cribs every few minutes to ensure they were still breathing, proudly showing them off to everyone we knew.

That’s the man who sits down with me and our girls for dinner nearly every night, patiently answering their questions about issues in the news, and strategizing about middle school friendships.

That’s the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him.

The letter from the father struggling to pay his bills. From the woman dying of cancer whose insurance company won’t cover her care. From the young person with so much promise but so few opportunities.

I see the concern in his eyes and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, “You won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle, it’s not right. We’ve got to keep working to fix this. We’ve got so much more to do.”

Ah. There it is: “Michelle, it’s not right.”

Democrats make that value judgment. They’re not afraid to do so. They see something wrong in society and declare “it’s not right,” often, “it’s not right!  And then they go about the hard job of fixing it. Republicans see things that aren’t right and say, “That’s the way it is.”

And that’s the biggest difference between the parties, between the philosophies that guide them.

I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are,” Mrs. Obama said. And she added that when a president is making the hard decisions that American presidents have to make,

as President, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.

What could be truer than that?

And Barack Obama’s values, his vision, the stuff that makes him who he is, should give us confidence that, even if we disagree with him at times, even if we wonder why he is so reluctant to openly and defiantly call out his political opponents, we can still, as far as it is humanly prudent to do so, trust him.

21 Comments

  1. I am still concerned , as a former Postal Employee about the push to privatize the Postal Service, the second largest employer in the US. The following videos tell the story.





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  2. Well said!!!!!! Thank you!!!!!

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  3. King Beauregard

     /  September 5, 2012

    Ol’ King Beauregard can boast that he worked a phone bank for six weeks in 2010, trying to get Ted Strickland re-elected as governor of Ohio. Sadly, my efforts were not sufficient, and we ended up with John Kasich. To this day, I have a limitless supply of contempt for “Progressives” who can’t be troubled to vote, because if you don’t vote, you just let the wrong people into power.

    And yeah, the Democrats have actual values, not hidden agendas. It’s not hard to see the difference.

    I’ve got a minor success story with ObamaCare to relate. Thanks to reduced copays on preventative care, I was able to start seeing a doctor for routine checkups six months ago, and thanks to the free blood tests, we were able to discover pretty quickly that I suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency. Not too surprising since I don’t drink milk (I was weaned decades ago, thank you) and I don’t work in a field all day with my shirt off. A Vitamin D deficiency means muscles are prone to fatigue and do not recover from exercise well, which has everything to do with why I could never sustain an exercise regimen.

    But Vitamin D capsules are cheap, I’ve been bicycling like a fiend for six months now, and I am losing weight and getting healthy rather than declining towards an early heart attack or stroke. Net savings to the medical industry … ? Thousands of dollars, I would guess. Net impact on my life … ? Incalculable. Thanks ObamaCare!

    P.S. I’m glad they’re finally embracing the term “ObamaCare”, now that enough has rolled out for people to experience its benefits.

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    • King Beau,

      Thanks for sharing that. And if you don’t mind me saying, that doesn’t sound like a “minor success story” to me. Multiply your story by millions and think of the impact this law will have, has had. Wow. Thanks again.

      Duane

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      • King Beauregard

         /  September 5, 2012

        The other part of it, of course, is that people have to make use of the preventative care; a lot of folks won’t, but some will.

        FYI, here’s what works for me:

        1) Take your Vitamin D pills. They’re cheap and you pretty much can’t overdose on them without also starring in a “News of the Weird” entry. Start with the 2000 IU if you don’t know where to start; I’m doing 5000 IU because I have some serious catching up to do.

        2) Get some exercise. Bicycling works for me, because I can also use a bicycle to run errands, so it doesn’t feel pointless.

        3) Figure out how much protein you’re consuming; assume you need 1 gram of protein every day for every 4 pounds of body weight. Chicken, lentils, and veggie burgers are great sources of protein. Also be sure to consume fats and carbs because you need those, just try not to get them in the form of empty calories.

        3a) If you absolutely must snack on candy, Special K protein bars hit a pretty good price / nutrition point, particularly if you buy them in bulk. They taste good and the protein (9g / bar) will help you feel full.

        4) The psychological angle. I discovered I was going out of my way to make sure I never experienced hunger pangs, almost like a phobia. That skewed my sense of whether I was full or not, and I was consistently eating just a little more than I needed to, leading to a gradual weight gain. I had to acclimate myself to hunger pangs and convince myself they’re no worse than any other random ache I easily tolerate. Learning this was probably the biggest change I had to make, and I bet there are legions of other overweight people who have the same bug in their mental software. It’s one of those things you don’t perceive until you experience an unexpected flash of insight, or perhaps, you’re reading a political blog and someone mentions it.

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        • @ King,

          I too discovered the hunger pang thing – they can be surprisingly insistent and it takes a conscious effort to overcome them. I find getting involved in a distracting activity is the best way to combat them – like blogging for example.😀 As for vitamin D, I really believe that doctors have scared people way too much about sunshine. It’s nature’s way of getting vitamin D. I consciously strive to get some ever day – 15 minutes on arms and face between 11a and 3p in summer is plenty, but considerably more is needed at other times and seasons. There’s an easily found web site for finding the amount of UV at any location and season.

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          • King Beauregard

             /  September 6, 2012

            It’s not the overcoming of hunger pangs that was my downfall, so much as excessive measures to avoid them altogether, as if they were far far worse than they actually are. It even got to the point that my ability to tell whether I was full was all messed up, because subconsciously I was applying the rule that, if I’m not so overstuffed as to be full for at least a few hours, I’m not really full.

            Now that I’m on speaking terms with hunger pangs, though, your advice is spot-on: distractions abound and they are very helpful.

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        • Excellent stuff.

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  4. Bbob

     /  September 5, 2012

    A very moving speech. I saw many in the audience with tears on their faces, and I may have quietly shed one or two myself. Made me proud to be a Democrat.

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    • I teared up myself. Couldn’t help it. Her speech came across as entirely genuine, which made it so effective. What a delivery. And the thing was so well crafted. Hats off to the writer, which I heard was mostly Michelle.

      Duane

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  5. writer89

     /  September 5, 2012

    Hey, Duane, as a former conservative, like me, I though you (and your readers) would appreciate this little essay on the difference between conservatives and liberals: http://writer89.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/how-right-wingers-really-think/

    Brad

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    • Thanks for that link. Great minds, as usual, do think alike, no?

      And I have used the military metaphor before, like the one you used:

      It can’t be every man for himself or else the unit doesn’t work. It’s the same thing in a society.

      I don’t know why that is so hard to understand, do you?

      Duane

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      • writer89

         /  September 5, 2012

        It seems pretty damn obvious to me, but like my dog, when you’re frozen in fear over all the new sounds and smells and the strange people, it’s difficult to get your brain to work, and all you can think of to do is bark and snarl!

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  6. ansonburlingame

     /  September 5, 2012

    For sure the two conventions are making our choices clear for the coming election. The differences are quite large and different futures will result, depending on voters choices come November. I don’t recall such distinct differences in any Presidential election in my lifetime as well.

    I also agree with, ““I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are,” as stated by Michelle. The fundamental philosophys for governing are in stark contrast between Romney and Obama. I would also suggest that the compassion and concern for the downtrodden, at the human level are similar for the two men.

    That last statement will get burning coals heaped on my head in this blog but so what.

    It is for sure unstated by Dems, BUT the results of four years of progressive solutions (perhaps “socialist” is the correct term) are $5 Trillion more in debt and climbing, historic (except the Great Depression) stagnation and high (8/3%) unemployment, middle class wealth down by some 40%, huge increases in food stamp costs and numbers of Americans in poverty and the list goes on.

    Make all the excuses you like but such are the real results from the current administration. Obama tells Michelle we are “in it for the long haul”. Many Americans are now asking “How long (O Lord, how long as Job did)”.

    Romney and the GOP suggest that “we can do better”. You strongly disagree. Instead you say “stick with us”. To do WHAT I ask? You will then trot out all your humanitarian concerns to reduce poverty, feed the hungry, reduce unemployment, restore middle class wealth, ingnite growth in GDP, etc.

    There is nothing wrong with such goals articulated by Dems for sure. I would vote for everyone of those goals as well.

    But we are NOT voting for goals, we are voting for men and women that will in fact achieve such goals are we not?

    America received a belly full of great goals in 2008 but we have yet to receive hardly any of them. As well, “your guy” said, “If I don’t fix it I will be a one term President”.

    Ask yourselves “What did America receive for $5 Trillion additional debt?” Then ask, “Can we as a nation do better than that?”

    Then ask the ultimate question “How do we do better?”

    Your answer to that last question will probably determine your vote for sure. One guy suggests that government will do it for you and the other guy suggests that American individuals will do it for themselves if government gets out of the way!!!

    Before you jump to your answer, might I suggest you check out Europe today to see how well government is doing over there! Then tell me as well that debt and deficits are not important right now and we will “fix them later”!

    anson

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  7. Yellow Dog

     /  September 5, 2012

    Then Anson….vote Romney. But in doing so, be prepared to take care of yourself, and warn your parents, children –college age kids (the door will slam shut for them)–etc that if the world falls away (as it would have had Obama NOT done and spent what he did and what he spent shoring up banks and the such) you are truly ON….YOUR….OWN.

    Good luck with those conservative guys giving a hand up, a hand out or any help whatsoever to the middle class. You’re not their people buddy….the rich are.

    Seniors can have their $6500 voucher—good luck with that.

    We can devastated the school lunch program as the Republicans suggest….whats a few growling bellies in a classroom anyway? It’s just nasty-poor-kid-public-schools…who cares. The rich use private schools. We all know this.

    And on and on.

    Hey, it’s just like those conservatives in Joplin. Heck, they bought into all that Republican hype about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and not being dependent on government

    The the tornado hit and all they hollered for was more tax money. MOre, More , More!!!

    They’re still hollering!!

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    • Yellow Dog,

      You just don’t get it. Joplin folks “deserve” the government money because they are palefaced folks with a superior work ethic, unlike those folks in, say, New Orleans. Just ask Anson.

      Duane

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  8. Curator

     /  September 5, 2012

    “What did America receive for $5 Trillion additional debt?” An economy slowly recovering from a near depression. How much of this $5 Trillion is also the result of lost revenues due to the recession? I think it went from $2.52 trillion in 2008 to $2.1 trillion in 2009. What did we receive from Bush’s $6.1 Trillion debt, or do you have selective amnesia?

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    • Curator,

      That extra debt was, except for the stimulus and the surge in Afghanistan, already baked in the budget cake. If John McCain would have been elected, most of that deficit, if not more (I think we’d already be in another war or two) would still exist.

      And, by the way, not just Anson but the entire Republican Party has selective–and collective–amnesia.

      Duane

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  9. Excellent post and commentary, IMHO. As for Michelle Obama’s fine speech, I predict the below sentence is most likely to be preserved in the nation’s library of political quotations. It has the ring of truth:

    “I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are.”

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  10. ansonburlingame

     /  September 6, 2012

    Try this one on for size, if you will.

    On Jan 20, 2001 our national debt was around $4 Trillion. Today it is $16 Trillion and counting up at over $1 Trillion per year.

    What did we get for $12 Trillion in debt over the last 11 years.

    We have lost two wars, costing maybe $1.5 Trillion. Where did the rest of it go? Shovel ready holes, anyone, from both sides of the aisle perhaps.

    Now tell me things need not change, dramatically.

    I would no more vote for Bush today than I would vote for Obama. A pox on both of them in my view, politely. And if you consider all your doomsday predictions above if the GOP wins well just wait to see what happens if Dems win as well.

    Europe is blazing the Dem trail (except for Germany and a few other northern European countries) and Obama is trying to take us down the same rathole of debt and deficits and then has the gall to tell us “there is nothing wrong with our strategy” (economically this time!!!).

    Anson

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