Sometimes it is difficult to admit, let alone accept, that I am no longer a young man. It’s not just that my children are grown and I have been a grandfather for nearly seven years, but I just went on Medicare. Ugh - reality. However, that also means that I have over 50 years of more than casual interest in the political scene, and I find myself increasingly reflecting on what has happened in this country since John F. Kennedy was inaugurated.
America at her best is a nation of lifters and givers and big ideas. Now we increasingly seem to be a country of leaners and takers and partisan nitpickers. We prided in our work ethic, but fifty years of social re-engineering has turned us into a land where too many would rather whine than work, and created a dependency culture in which too many have found it too easy to be treated as entitled victims, and too few see it as their responsibility to be achievers. And, that “all American boy and girl” has been reconfigured into a hyphenated-American “person.” We have lowered our expectations and in the process we have diminished America
Like so many “seniors” (gulp) I am worried, and not about myself. I am worried about our intergenerational legacy through which one generation leaves America better off for the next. We are failing in this responsibility, and I am not the only one believing this. In many respects it has been the subtext to my blogs, and the key to the upcoming election. “What do we want America to be?”
Overlooking the point that JFK was elected only after a still under-explained series of “voting irregularities” in Chicago, the Democrats were much different in 1960. They were for a strong National defense, lower income taxes, individual freedom and personal responsibility. JFK asked the people to think of their Country first, and not what Uncle Sam could do for them. He called the Nation’s youth to public service in the Peace Corps. And, he led - front and center - as those of us old enough to recall the Cuban missile crisis can proudly recall. When I was old enough to vote, I did not hesitate to register as a Democrat, because JFK was a Democrat.
Somewhere between then and now the Democratic Party has taken a U-turn. Ronald Reagan often told America that he was a Union President and Democrat long before he became a Republican, but … “I did not leave the Democratic Party,” he would often say, “the Democratic Party left me.”
Me too … and millions of other Americans.
I don’t think that JFK would even recognize his brother’s Democrat Party, let alone Obama’s view of the Democratic Party’s role in America. And yet, despite 50 years of transformation, Massachusetts still has three Democrats for every registered Republican. It makes me wonder, “Why are there still so many Democrats?”
When someone asks a Republican why s/he is a registered Republican, they will usually provide specific reasons. When the same question is asked of Democrats, my admittedly anecdotal experience has been that they are less clear, but usually begin with the “I’ve been a Democrat all my life…,”as if nothing has changed, including their thinking, and often includes the misperception that Republicans are for the rich, hence they could never be a Republican.
This is not especially helpful. So, this week I am asking Democrats, and Unenrolled voters who typically lean Democrat, to tell us why you are what you are. Here are a number of potential reasons to start your thinking:
- It’s all about pro-choice abortion rights for Democrats. Republicans are typically pro-life.
- Even though Democrats were responsible for Vietnam, and the expansion of Afghanistan, Republicans are seen as the more likely party to be at war.
- Democrats believe that in-state tuition, free public educational and medical services, and even tax credits for illegal aliens are fair, while Republicans want protected borders and an orderly legal immigration process.
- Democrats are for higher taxes on the “rich”, even if 50% of the people do not pay any. Republicans want lower taxes because they are all so very rich.
- Democrats believe government regulations and controls more effectively steer the economy. Republicans believe in free enterprise.
- Democrats are more comfortable with the formation of victim’s groups, and a hyphenated-America. Republicans believe that America was founded on the individual’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
- Democrats believe in redistributed earnings – sharing somebody else’s wealth. Republicans believe that the money you earn is your property.
- Democrats believe the role of government is to provide free stuff. Republicans want the people to be free from government.
- Democrats believe that society must redefine the role of the family to meet new lifestyles. Republicans believe that the traditional family is essential to the success of the culture and the Country.
- Democrats promote the expanding reach of the Federal government to create social justice and fairness. Republicans believe that the Constitution limits the powers of the Federal government.
- Democrats are strongly supportive of Unions for all the good they have done for working people in America. Republicans realize that America now competes in a world economy in which cost of labor is a critical component.
- Democrats believe that government sponsored discrimination remains an acceptable practice (except in the Olympics). Republicans believe in equality of opportunity, but not a guarantee of result.
- Democrats believe that government is the answer. Republicans believe that government is the problem.
I am worried for America and the opportunities that will not exist for future generations. So Democrats, what do you see that so many of us do not?