So it's been a couple days (well okay probably more then that but me and time aren't really on speaking terms generally) since the challenge to write about why we are here, why we are democrats and progressives. Honestly I had never really intended to answer it for a variety of reasons, however last night I read an excellent diary by tmservo433 and it changed my mind.
So if you want to read a convoluted tale come join me below.
I grew up in a kind of apolitical family. Considering how opinionated, headstrong and strong willed both sides of my family are that reality still amuses me. My family really doesn't discuss politics; don't get me wrong if something big comes up it will be talked about but only so long as it in the news. After that it really doesn't get brought up. And this is not to say my family didn't vote; they did and did so largely as Reagan democrats. Because of this politics really was not something I thought about for a very long time.
Even though high school really I didn't pay attention to politics. I have no memories of Clinton other then the Lewinsky 'scandal' and even that is vague. I remember Gore running but only in a 'there's no possible way you could not know that' way. I remember Bush winning and the controversy over Florida. I remember being apprehensive about going into Iraq but deciding to give Bush at least the benefit of the doubt. I remember Kerry's campaign but more so for being utterly appalled about the tactics being used by the GOP then anything else. Really my first concrete political memory is Obama's 2004 speech.
Before going further forward though I need to back up a bit. Even being apolitical (or perhaps just apathetic though I would simply argue I had other more pressing priorities in my life) I was already more a fan of the democrats then republicans. A lot of it had to do with the tactics of the GOP I mean while incredibly embarrassing and hurtful and dishonorable I never really was that outraged by Lewinsky. In fact my response today is the same as my initial one, so what? How does having an affair matter? And I know the GOP's response it's the same one I largely got from my family which is morality blah blah blah. But besides the tactics I really just could not accept the rabid and vehement anti science bullshit the GOP embraced. Even being only half aware of politics (at best) the GOP just struck me as too reactionary, too hide bound, too judgmental and too exclusionary. Thus I was already predisposed towards the democrats but Obama's speech just blew me away.
I get that to some here it's a 'war' that we must 'win' but it's never been that way to me. Maybe it's because I know reliable GOP voters and know they are genuinely good people. Maybe it's because I try and keep an open mind and attitude towards being wrong and those having different view points. Maybe it's because being keenly interested in history I know that in general unless you're prepared to use extreme measures you can not conquer people, only convince the. Or maybe it's for another reason(s), I really don't know for sure. What I do know is that even today I don't view the GOP as evil or with anger. At worst I pity them and just wish they'd open their minds a bit. The relevance here is that what I remember to this day is Obama's willingness to acknowledge that there are divergent viewpoints on politics and that often there are no clear right answers. That there really shouldn't be a 'red USA' or 'blue USA' just the USA. I remember watching that speech and hoping even praying (though at the time I was already walking away from Catholicism) that one day that man would be president.
I'd like to be able to say that was my great political awakening but that would be dishonest. I still had other priorities at the time and more over a lot of issues to deal with. As such while I kinda sorta paid attention to politics it was more in a 'big headline event' type deal then anything. And boy did we have some big headlines from 2004 to 2008, I won't for the sake of brevity recount them. They're fairly fresh and I think my point is made without them. I will say that practically every big headline made me cringe a little more with regards to the GOP.
And so it was in 2008 that I was (mostly) issue free and (mostly) had dealt with the priorities in my life enough so that when Obama choose to run I started to pay attention. At first very little attention though, especially during the primaries as Clinton was the favorite and I didn't want to get my hopes up. A funny thing happened though and Obama won and to this day I don't know exactly why but it was at that point I choose to volunteer for the campaign. I even lurked here briefly but my life was not at a point that was good for me and so I read the front pages sometimes and that was all I did. But that decision to volunteer was the tipping point. Even though I didn't entirely stay engaged after 2008 I didn't ignore politics any more either.
It would be another 4 years really before I came back here and registered though some what ironically when I did finally join here it was because I wanted to share my experiences with Amtrak than anything else.
So what makes me a Democrat and Progressive?
Well in no particular order
Because I think the party and Progressives overall generally have the better answers.
Because I can't stand the rabid anti-intellectualism, anti-science party of the lowest common denominator.
Because I can't stand the dishonorable, dishonest actions of the GOP.
Because I want to live in a reality based world.
Because I find the self righteous, holier then thou, moralistic crap to be just that.
Because if I believe more in persuasion and being the adult than in the GOP's childish tantrums and 'my way or the highway' attitude.
And perhaps most importantly: