Why am I a Democrat?
I was born this way. No, that’s not right. I was raised this way. No, that’s not quite right either. I chose to be a Democrat.
My father, who worked all his life as a chef, immigrated from an island in Greece, while my mother, who worked mostly as a waitress, was born on a farm here in New Jersey. My parents, who met during the Great Depression, told my brothers and me that Democrats were for the working man.
I’m a Democrat because I am a “recovering” Catholic. I learned that in order to serve God, I had to serve my fellow man, to serve all mankind, including the poor, the infirm, the elderly and even the outcasts of our world who — “there but for the Grace of God” – could have easily been me.
I’m a Democrat whose best friend while growing up was a Republican who would decry the resignation of Nixon as one who was “forced out of office” by the likes of us. And, while I did not agree with him, I would honor what the US president did in opening relations with Communist China, signing into law the Clean Air Act, and how he presided over other such “liberal” programs as the assistance for inner city youths.
I’m a Democrat because of another childhood friend, one who was Black, who served with me in the Vietnam War, but who never came back home alive. (I still dream of and with you, my brother. I hope never to forget you.)
I believe in the Union Movement and recall that the best job I ever held was serving as a union organizer spreading the gospel of a worker’s right to a decent wage and proper working conditions. It lead me to eventually become a lawyer who served in Philadelphia as a public defender for some 20 years.
“A laborer is worthy of his hire,” is what St. Paul wrote and what Pope John Paul II once declared in an edict in support of unions.
I’m a Democrat who believes we must change in order to rectify global warming, that there should be no abortions but that women should have the right to choose, that there should be no discrimination toward any lifestyle preference and that our country should never again impose the death penalty when even a scintilla of evidence shows a guilty verdict may have been rendered unjustly.
I want to love my enemy by trying to understand why he hates me, and what differences we could resolve without doing grave harm to either one of our beliefs. I would gladly place the happiness of others over my own, for in offering such a democratic sacrifice to the world, I’d achieve a sense of much greater peace and joy in such altruism.
I’m a Democrat because I believe compromising is good for all human relationships, even the political ones that often get us into trouble when there is the entrenchment of any of our ideas or notions.
Finally, I’m a Democrat who doesn’t mind paying taxes all that much when I know that the great majority of our government’s revenue will help benefit my nation through firm love and compassion.