I was lamenting leaving the Democratic Party recently, a step I have yet to take. For nearly my entire adult life, I’ve been an active democrat and simultaneously pro-life. The opposite of a single issue voter, I’m anti-abortion and anti-death penalty, anti-poverty and anti-racism too. Pro-life for the whole life, as my fellow pro-life Democrats say.
Even in the absence of leisure time, I have consistently attended precinct caucuses and conventions; I vote in the primaries and the general.
Honored to have been recruited as a potential democratic candidate in a very red legislative district, I complained to my husband, Dylan, that even IF the timing was right, I couldn’t work a united campaign front because I don’t like any of the Presidential Candidates to which my beloved husband replied, “Well, if you don’t want to be a candidate and you don’t even want to go caucus this year, you could say that you didn’t really leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left you.” I chuckled but it still weighed on my heart that it’s a moral imperative to show up, speak up, and never choose backing away in cowardice or indifference as the answer.
About a week later, on a totally different topic of conversation, Dylan mentioned the amount that comes out of his biweekly paycheck for taxes. “Can you believe that? We have paid more in taxes for 2019 than the amount of our joint income for the first couple years of marriage!”
“Does it make you want to be a Republican?” I teased him.
“No, it makes me proud to be a Democrat,” he replied without hesitation.
And there it is. That’s the thing.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without government. Not only are we pro-life but we are pro-family. We firmly believe family is the foundation of any society. We also agree that ideally, families are sanctuaries of love, warmth, emotional sensitivity, and protection. Families exercise stewardship, share resources and make sacrifices to care for one another. I wrote “ideally” because unfortunately, that’s not the reality for many families who would openly call themselves “dysfunctional” or who pretend to be functional but really are quite the opposite.
When labor unions decline in membership and government protections serve to protect the elite, it is working families that suffer. That is why we believe parents who choose life and work hard should make a living wage that supports their kids, and if they’re practicing pro-lifers and have a large family, so be it!
One parent should be able to make enough to provide for all of their kids’ basic needs, including food, shelter, heat, clothing, utilities. Every parent should have leisure time that affords them time and freedom to attend to their religious obligations, health needs, and to spend time quality time with their family. And every person, no matter how abled or disabled, should have access to transportation (because how can you work if you can’t get to your job?) and quality health care.
I don’t want to party-shame here because many of my friends are Republicans. I agree with them on several things (mostly that life begins at conception and ends at natural death), but I disagree on a whole lot of other things.
For example, unlike my Republican friends, I would be glad if government subsidized small business any day, but I disagree with corporate welfare for companies like Wal-Mart that gut towns of their Ma & Pa Shops, make an in-exorbitant profit at the top, and pay employees so little that the hard-working employees need to apply for Medical Assistance and government aid in order to make ends meet. Trickle down economics doesn’t work if no one regulates and requires the trickle.
I also disagree with a lack of environmental regulation. As a Catholic and a human being, I think it imperative we care for God’s creation. And even if you don’t care about non-human nature, the destruction of nature impacts your health, the health of your family members, friends and future generations, so you *should* care.
Unlike the Trump Admin, I disagree with cuts made to Social Security. There needs to be some form of basic retirement care for the elderly who work their whole lives. Not everyone has the wealth to put money aside for retirement while raising their children. Personally, we spend our money on raising our family now. Due to children, our student loans and a mortgage, we don’t have anything extra to put away at this point. If Dylan didn’t work two government jobs, we would not have a retirement plan, something every hard-working parent deserves.
I agree with regulating immigration but disagree with anti-immigrant sentiments. Unless you are Native American, your ancestors were immigrants too. Every baby, born and unborn, deserves a safe and healthy environment away from violence. No child belongs in a cage. There’s no excuse for turning an eye from the sexual assault or abuse of a child, no matter their color or immigration status. I disagreed with and abominate Obama’s immigration policies as well, but his poor policies don’t justify current inhumane treatment and failure to protect immigrant refugee families, particularly children.
I disagree that poor people are poor because they’re lazy. No one wants to be poor OR dependent. Trust me. I don’t know a person out there who doesn’t want to lift themselves up by the bootstraps. Some just don’t even have the boots!
I disagree with cutting affordable care, as the Trump Admin is trying to do, for people with preexisting conditions. If you find out your baby has Downs Syndrome and will need surgery due to a heart defect (that often accompanies Downs), the republican government would like to allow health insurance to deny coverage because your baby has a preexisting condition. That doesn’t sound very pro-life to me.
BUT FOR labor union benefits, one pregnancy and birth with medical assistance (which IS welfare for those who are on it and imagine that they are not), and veterans’ benefits, we might be divorced, homeless and starving. Perhaps worse from a social welfare perspective, we might depend on charity and never be able to provide for ourselves or our family. We certainly wouldn’t be paying into taxes the income we initially made those first years of marriage.
Thankfully, social programs like food assistance, medical assistance, Pell Grants, VA Loans, FHA loans, the GI Bill, federal student loans, and more help people get on their feet and become autonomous so they can provide for themselves and their families. They give people the boots so they can lift themselves up by their bootstraps.
If we are really pro-life, there needs to be a social safety net because most of us don’t have the ideal family support or resources. Your child or your neighbor’s child does not deserve to go without their basic needs being met because they weren’t born privileged and handed a golden platter. That’s not their fault and honestly, it’s probably not their parents’ either. People trying to simply survive are unlikely to thrive, be autonomous and contribute to society. Instead, there’s a danger that a cycle of poverty and crime will continue because we, as a society, refused to see ourselves in their suffering. We thought they were lazy and refused to reflect on our own privilege. Meanwhile, we subsidized narcissistic multi-billion dollar corporations.
All politics is local and our influence, as the “little people” without the deep pockets gets smaller and smaller as we get to larger regions and levels of politics. If you want a voice and you want to be heard, you have to show up at small, local elections and move upward from there. I am not going to lie and say it’s something it’s not. Here’s the truth: Caucuses and conventions are often long. They’re often boring. People that participate sometimes have more leisure time than my homeschooled kids. People aren’t always friendly. They might talk down to you. There are a lot of extremists and single-issue participants. Personally, I rarely leave full of optimism and confidence in our society and system. But I know that my participation at the local level has a bigger influence than my vote in the general election (and I do both).
And by the way, while I may not have the power to change my party’s platform as a minority member of the party, I am confident I have an influence. I know many of my elected officials in person. I have the power of time, respect, and their listening ears. And if I can bring some of you with me to caucus and encourage you to share your personal opinions and experience, my voice won’t sing solo or duet any more. I suddenly am joined by a choir and I hope we can sing 🎶 fortissimo in harmony. Loud and clear. And yes, together we can change any party platform and influence government to ensure it’s really the government of the people, by the people and for the people. I will show up as undecided for President and voice my opinions. Please join me, and let’s make music.