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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?

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Comment Preferences

  •  my family's motto, lived, not just spoken: (10+ / 0-)
    "We shall pass this way on Earth but once; if there is any kindness we can show, or good act we can do, let us do it now, for we will never pass this way again."
                                                                                                            -Stephen Grellet

    Addington's perpwalk? TRAILHEAD of accountability for Bush-2 Crimes. @Hugh: There is no Article II power which says the Executive can violate the Constitution.

    by greenbird on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 11:07:12 AM PDT

  •  You sent me scrambling to see who all the (6+ / 0-)

    candidates were in the 1948 election. My parents supported Henry Wallace, Progressive Party. I have a picture of them that says on the back that it was taken at the Wallace convention.

    Otherwise, virtually all you said also applies to me---except I'm a straight woman, and probably a little older. I never heard it from his mouth, but I suspect my father was a card-carrying Communist. Both of them were active in union organizing, so they might have been a bit more radical than your parents.

    I registered as a Democrat, but was very active in the CA Peace and Freedom Party. I carried the petition for the 18 year old vote, participated in demonstrations, etc. The first year I could vote was 1968. My mother and I had gone to see Bobby Kennedy speak at what is now Cal State, Northridge. After he died, it was several years before I could bring myself to vote again. But the values were there, and when I was ready, I got active in the local Democratic Party. City elections in a few weeks, but will vote early today. Still doin' my part.

  •  I was raised in a similar fashion, my parents (6+ / 0-)

    both products of Orthodox Jewish households that fled Russia (around 1910).

    Caring and empathy, and concern for equitable outcomes certainly did not push you to be a republican!

    Thanks for telling your story here.

    Ayn sucks. Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer.

    by Floyd Blue on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 11:36:18 AM PDT

    •  My family arrived a bit before yours (0+ / 0-)

      The earliest to arrive that I know of was my mom's paternal grandmother who came to the US from Russia in 1890, age 15, as a mail-order bride. I presume her husband was older and was already here but I don't know that much about him; he died when my grandfather was very young. The family name was Brody, which also happened to be the name of an important point of embarkation, located before WWI in Austria-Hungary (actually in the Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, near the border with Russia, but now part of the Ukraine. My understanding is that when immigration officials couldn't understand the surnames of new immigrants, the simply assigned new surnames, not infrequently based on where they'd departed from.

      Mom's maternal grandparents arrived from the Polish portion of Austria not long before my grandmother's birth in 1898. Dad's parents were a bit older than my mom's and were born in Vienna. They arrived with their parents, as small children, sometime in the middle of the 1890's.

      •  Our family names were chopped down to (0+ / 0-)

        four letters and six letters last names, when the original names were 12-letter russian honkers ending in "sky".

        We both are lucky then, not to have lost ancestors in the holocaust. (I assume you did not).   It's all a matter of timing.

        My mom's father fled russia just before he was to be drafted into the russo-japanese war. (a probable death sentence).

        Ayn sucks. Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer.

        by Floyd Blue on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 04:36:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sigh... (0+ / 0-)

          From what I understand, quite a few distant relatives stayed behind and there was contact by mail between the American and European branches up until the late 1930's. After that? Nothing. Yes they were two generations removed by that point but still...all gone. Every last one.

          •  I'm sorry to assume. That is haunting how (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            you describe the stop in communications.

            Ayn sucks. Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer.

            by Floyd Blue on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 10:36:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  My story is very much like yours (7+ / 0-)

    I'll probably tell my story next week, academic pressures making this week really difficult, but it's really my grandparents on my mother's side (all four of my grandparents were immigrants from the Pale of Settlement, between 1897 and 1912).  On the ONE occasion when I couldn't vote for the Democratic candidate (Ramsey Clark, New York Senate, 1974) I voted for Jacob Javits but on the Liberal party line. No, there are no more Republicans like Javits any more.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 11:42:44 AM PDT

    •  I remember Javits (6+ / 0-)

      One of the two or three Republicans my mom ever voted for. She was, unaccountably (to me at least), a fan of Nelson Rockefeller and of Seymour Halpern who was our neighborhood's Congressional rep. She probably voted for John Lindsay for Mayor but on the Liberal line. I don't recall who I might have voted for in the 1974 Senate race. If I voted for Javits, I'm sure I also did so on the Liberal line.

      For the record, my dad never discussed his politics nor his votes.

    •  Hell, there are few enough Dems like Javits. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eru, sfbob, Dave in Northridge

      If Jacob Javits were alive and serving in the Senate today, not only would he be by far the most liberal Republican, his politics would put him on the left wing of the Democrats in that chamber.  (At least from what I can recall of his politics.)

      Today, there is not a single Republican senator whose politics even remotely resemble those of Javits.  That fact is a testament to how far the GOP has moved to the right.  That Javits would probably be considered pretty liberal even for a Democrat is a testament to how far the Democratic Party has been willing to follow Republicans' rightward march.

      As you say, Javits was the kind of Republican who could get the Liberal Party's endorsement.  That's just unthinkable for a Republican today.

      "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

      by FogCityJohn on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 01:38:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Huh. Funny. Our families are very, very (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eru, sfbob

    different, but my parents taught me the exact same lessons, sfbob :^)   My mother's family were pioneers back to the Mayflower days and my dad's family were Kentucky Scots-Irish.

    Growing up in my family, FDR and JFK weren't just initials. They were a way of life. I took that way of life for granted and believed it would always be honored by this country.

    I guess I've learned that what our parents taught us is worth fighting for and THAT is the lesson I'm passing on now to koosah kid.  

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Wed Oct 23, 2013 at 01:08:02 PM PDT

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