I've been a bit busy lately with meatspace shit. It's all good shit, though, so that's, ya know, good. :)
I've been wanting to write something for awhile, but haven't had the time or energy. I gots me some hourz tonight, so when I saw this challenge from AlyoshaKaramazov earlier, I knew I had to take him (her?) up on it:
I call on all Kossacks to submit at least one diary in the next few weeks, speaking about what the Democratic Party has meant, and means, to them. Speak of your very first introduction to progressive politics. Speak of a personal hero in the party. Speak about some family member, friend or coworker who has seen the light, and who no longer wishes to use government for the purposes of shredding our national fabric, but who wants to pitch in and sew it back together.And so it goes. I am a Democrat, and here's the story of how I became one.
When I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin in the 1970s and 80s, my home life was (for lack of a better phrase) extremely shitty. Both of my parents were alcoholics, so I spent my formative years having to fend for myself. It sucked donkey balls, but a lot of other kids' childhoods are way worse. I count myself lucky that I at least had a nice house, clothes on my back, and food in my belly.
The rage that I acquired while being expected to assume an adult's role while still inside a child's body was massive. I spent a ton of time doing fun stuff, like kicking holes in walls and throwing tantrums that felt and looked more like mini-tornados. Shockingly, I was not at all popular in school. I had a big mouth, and I would tell you what I thought of you immediately, almost as if it was a challenge. Needless to say, I was picked on mercilessly and bullied.
I was motherfucking bullied bad, man. It became physical a few times, but most of it was verbal and, of course for Young Me, really emotional. I spent a lot of time in junior high and high school listening to emo music, crying, and writing.
Bit by bit, though, I began to fight back against the bullies. It occurred to me many times during my youth that, wow, wouldn't it be cool if adults and kids alike were, I don't know, nice to each other? And so I would occasionally assume the role of protector, like when it came to my little sister or other kids in school who were also receiving constant beatdowns.
I would stand up for them because I wasn't yet able to stand up for myself.
Aside from being alcholics, my parents were also incredibly racist, especially my mom. It was embarrassing to me, and it made me hellishly angry at them. Northern Wisconsin was then (and still is) extremely white-bred, so my folks' racism was nothing compared to other families I knew, a few of whom had uncles or grandparents still actively involved in the Klan. I couldn't put my finger on it back then, why racism made me so inherently pissed off, but I realize now that I equated it with an ultimate form of bullying, terrorizing, and dehumanizing. I hated it, loathed it to the nth degree. My parents used to have these awful sayings that they'd occasionally mutter to my sister and I, denigrating people of color, and I would lash out at them every single time.
It still enrages me, just thinking back on this.
I also had my Uncle Bobby, who used to like to egg me on whenever he saw me, which amounted to maybe 4 times per year. He used to call me (I'm substituting my nick for my real name here, heh) Shiznit Steinem. That's exactly how I learned about Gloria Steinem and, unbeknownst to him, I considered it a goddamned compliment. We would argue about racism and sexism, and I usually ended up telling him to go fuck himself. My extended family would all laugh and guffaw and high five each other, as if Uncle Bobby had won any of our fights with his ignorant and bass ackwards opinions. Please. I kicked his ass, even as an 11-year-old kid.
When I was in high school, Geraldine Ferraro, Walter Mondale's running mate, came to my school. My friends all blew it off because, whatever - it was the 80s and who gives a crap about politics, right? But I did and, Jesus H. Christ playing paintball with the Big Bang Theory crew, was I ever excited to see her! She's a woman, and she could be vice president! Holy fucking shit!
I do not remember one word she said, and I don't think I understood a friggin' thing, but I liked it. A lot.
In 1988, I registered to vote for the very first time. I voted for Michael Dukakis. I have been a registered Democrat ever since.
I think I've told this story here before, but I had this awesome college roommate named Kimberley. Even though I was vehemently against racism and sexism, I still considered myself what was then called pro-life (and I know now as anti-choice). Kimberley actually volunteered for the Democratic Party and, in 1992, she got me all into Paul Tsongas. We used to have fascinating late-night discussions, essentially revolving around abortion, and she's the one who clued me into the fact that, even though I don't think I could have an abortion, it's not my fucking choice what other women do with their bodies.
Kimberley is the reason that I became, and still remain, pro-choice. I want women everywhere to have the freedom of choice, because it's essential to their very well-beings. And that is, and should forever be, a leading tenet of the Democratic Party Platform.
Right before I met Kimberley, I had a gay female roommate named Skye. Unfortunately for all involved, and as progressive as I claimed to be back then, I was sorely lacking when it came to my own homophobia. I informed Skye that she could kiss her girlfriend, but not in front of me. It's fucking embarrassing to admit this now, but my evolution in this regard was rather swift, thankfully. I've had gay friends who talked to me about my disgusting attitude and told me to knock it the hell off. I also realized I was bisexual at a certain point (duh! all true homophobes are fucking gay!) and, years after I had a 4-year relationship with a woman, remain firmly pro-LGBTQ. The way is forward, not straight!
I was not a huge fan of Bill Clinton's, and never really have been, even though I voted for that guy twice. But I sure did lovez me his woman. I considered Hillary Clinton an idol of mine for many years. When Bill ascended into the presidency, he had a strong, opinionated, and educated wife. I fucked loved that woman. I wanted to be her when I grew up.
I felt apathetic and angry the entire time Dubya was in office. I felt like nothing would change, like the noose from my childhood was tightening around my neck, like it was all just hopeless and we were all circling the drain. What an absolutely horrible time. I hated that motherfucking douchebag more than I can ever express, and I hated Cheney even more. And I don't really hate (like, for realz) anybody. But I hate hate HATE! the motherfucking Bush Administration. I really, truly do. They are boils on the butt of humanity, I swear to God.
That's why I was happier than hell that Barack Obama came into the fore. I was over my Hillary Clinton crush by this point, but Obama? Barack Hussein Obama is the first politician who had me so happily gobsmacked that I volunteered for him. I registered for this website then, because I was so enamored with the man and his ideas and his eloquence.
Of course, I know now never to do that again. I believe in policy today, not politicians.
I believe in change and growth. I believe that the Democratic Party should hold firm against any and all bullies, goddamnit. I believe that Democrats should stand up and say, "Ya know what? Democrats and Republicans have too much in common these days, and I'm freaking sick of it! Corporate America owns both of their asses, and I think we need to be the party of the little guy again!"
Democrats are not fucking bullies, or at least they shouldn't be.
I am anti-bully. And that's why I am a Democrat.