I am biased, I choose to be a Democrat. I don't cry over
lost votes but sure remember who was at the election. I know
why I think as a Democrat. I don't consider being a liberal,
as compared with a fundamentalist or conservative, a bad thing.
I think being a patriot is not contingent upon waving a flag
after 9-11. I believe in the work ethic and opportunity. As
a veteran, I believe in a strong, pragmatic military that
protects and defends.
This is a scary time. It actually was scary from the beginning
of 2000 and the election. When Ralph Nader and the Green Party
said there was no difference between the Republican and Democratic
Parties I was disturbed. The election of 2002 solidified the notion that there was no difference between the parties because the Democrats were never able to articulate a difference. They supported the Patriot Act and the tax cut bills which continue to come back to haunt us all. The Democrats lost their way and their voice.
The staunchest of Republicans are
conservative, many fundamentalist, with a belief in the work
ethic that precludes consideration of the social needs of the
oppressed or economically challenged minority groups. Democrats
sometimes are labeled liberals because of their efforts to
provide economic support for those who are less fortunate.
They don't necessarily believe that just working harder and
longer will make everyone a millionaire. Depending upon your
political ideology, these are times of great frustration when
your world view is not reflected in the country's politics,
vision and social agenda because of who is in charge.
Huge economic and social issues are conveniently ignored when the focus is on the war on terrorism.
The first year of the Bush administration was spent on implementing
a tax cut which provided $300 to some citizens and millions
to others. Although the total effect of this bill will not
be realized for ten years, its economic impact is felt daily.
As the market has continued to decline we no longer hear of
the efforts to privatize social security. As we go into debt,
we can no longer hear about health care and medication coverage
for the elderly. But we do hear about religion, paying people
to marry, faith based charities receiving federal money, and about
denying women around the world family planning information
We were changed by the terrorist attack of 9-11-01. With
it President Bush became Commander in Chief and declared War
on Terrorism. Constitutionally, it is the Congress that declares
war, but this did not happen. Congress jumped on board with
the Patriot Act and we have seen a progressive loss of rights
for all Americans. We are continuing to be deceived by a government
that is no longer trusted. I am skeptical about the self-serving
aspects of maintaining the focus on the war on terrorism.
It appears to be a convenient ploy for political gain. The
sword rattling is also frightening because I have been in
war. War is ugly. It ultimately kills hundreds as "collateral
damage" and for what ultimate goal? We need to know our mission,
how to achieve it, and how to get out before we commit to
a war of engagement. And there is the nagging question of
whether we need an extended war on terrorism or if, perhaps, we are there because the original
President Bush left some unfinished business in Iraq.
Congress passed the Patriot Act of 2001 just days after the
attack. It seemed like the necessary and patriotic thing to
do. With the enactment of the bill we, as Americans gave up
come of our civil rights thinking we would buy safety in exchange.
Since 9-11 we have seen unimaginable intrusions into people's
lives in the name of "homeland security." People have been
detained for undefined periods of time without charges and have
suffered loss of privacy in conversations with their attorneys.
Eavesdropping proceeds with renewed vigilance with neighbor being
encouraged to spy and report on neighbor. This is a hysteria
approaching that seen during the McCarthy era when these same practices were
instituted. This is dangerous to our civil liberties and we
are being seduced into thinking that by whisking
away a few Muslims or Middle Easterners, somehow the rest
of us are going to be safe. We had best care for our brothers
and sisters lest we repeat history.
You may recall a prayer written by Lutheran minister Neumeuller
during the Nazi Reign in Germany:
When they came for the Catholics I said nothing
because I was not a Catholic.
When they came for the Jews I said nothing because I was not
When they came for the union members I said nothing because
I was not a union member.
When they came for me no one said anything because they all
had already been taken.
Millions of Jews lost their lives because of the complacency of others.
People around the world knew of the atrocities committed by
the Nazis and did nothing. As Americans we need to think, be
responsible citizens and question rather than accept "big daddy"
as our self-proclaimed guardian. After they come
for the Muslims and Middle Easterners, who will be next?
Democracy is based on questioning. We must make sure that
there is competent, honest representation dedicated to working in the best interest
of all. The rights of all must be respected and defended.
These simple rights are based on the Constitution and its application for all.
Our civil rights must not be selectively
taken away in the name of an undeclared war by a President
who was elected by questionable means.
As we fight to preserve the civil rights of all we still continue the struggle for gay, lesbian and transgendered people's equal human and civil rights. The recent Washington state decision that job discrimination based on sexual orientation was unconstitutional will be followed in the courts. Until there is a FEDERAL law, there is no equal protection. Many of us may feel there is no need for this protection. We feel we can ignore the consequences of DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL because we are not be in the military. This is not helpful. Even if only one person lost a job, was thrown out of the military, or was prosecuted under a sodomy statute, those laws must be overturned to ensure equal treatment. Some of us feel that there is no problem. There may not be a problem for those who have a safe work environment, are not in the military and live in a state with no sodomy laws. Each of these laws, or absence of laws, places individuals in jeopardy of being prosecuted at will and whim. It is unfair, unjust, and ultimately unconstitutional. Our work must be to fight for change through our political involvement.
All of us must become involved at a "grass roots" level at home. Our involvement can be with donations of money, time, skills, making phone calls or writing letters. Support the candidate and political party in your area that represents your rights and needs. In the GLBT community this can be done through the Human Rights Campaign, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Register at Vote.com so we can change the right-leaning poll results that influence the media, the politicians and your neighbors.
Former Democratic Candidate for Congress
Current Chairperson of the Island County
Democrats, Washington State
22 July 02