Like some of my colleagues here, I read AlyoshaKaramazov's challenge to write something positive, an explanation of what the Democratic Party means to us. I jumped on the idea by way of a comment and a compliment, so I suppose it's only fair that I put my money where my mouth is.
Follow me past the squiggle of Kos and I'll explain to you how I got here.
It's fair to say that I'm a Democrat (and a very left-wing one at that) because that's the way I was raised. My mom's grandparents and my dad's parents were born in Europe. Their families left Europe because, as Jews, they were second-class citizens at best and at worst were used for target practice. The fight against persecution, the yearning for equality, both were instilled in me from the beginning. As a kid I was taught how important it is to vote; how wars are horrible and should only be waged for self-defense. I was taught that discrimination is wrong, no matter what form it takes. I was taught that some of the best things ever done in this country were done by the government and those things should be applauded. I was taught that some of the worst things ever done in this country were done by the government and those things should be condemned. In fact I was taught that nobody is so good as to be above criticism. I was taught that the New Deal was the best government initiative in our nation's history. I was taught that while money is nice to have and that being poor is not a virtue, money can't buy happiness and excessive wealth can be a trap. I was taught that greed and selfishness are wrong. I was taught that I am indeed my brother's keeper because we really are all in this together.
My mom told me that when she was first eligible to vote, she considered voting for the Socialist candidate, Norman Thomas. But she was worried that doing so might help elect Dewey and she didn't want Truman to lose. The lesson here? Have principles but understand that to be effective you have to play towards the middle, at least sometimes. And always vote!
I was taught not to be ashamed of who I was even if that made me different from most other people. While my folks clearly meant that I should be proud of my Jewish heritage, and that I should not feel ashamed that I was left-handed, when I realized I was gay, being gay eventually (after some struggle; sex education was NOT my folks' strong suit) became one more thing to be proud of.
I was also taught to think critically about all things so while I subjected all the things I was taught to scrutiny, it seemed inconsistent not to continue to embrace those values. I was taught to be practical. So even though the emphasis on critical thought and education led me to study philosophy, I soon realized that I could take that only so far and I needed to make a living, albeit one that engaged me intellectually. Because of that (and did I mention that my mom worked for the Federal government before I was born?), I took a job in the civil service. And I've never regretted it.
I have to tell you that while both my parents were sticklers for good behavior, they were also fans of independence. In my family it wasn't easy to be a rebellious teenager!
With all of these lessons, how could I possibly have grown up to be a Republican?