In a couple of weeks, I will be heading to Charlotte, North Carolina as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. I am starting to reflect on the reasons why I am Democrat and the importance of reelecting President Obama.
I wasn’t always a Democrat. When I registered to vote at 18 I decided that neither party encapsulated what believed in. I was officially registered “other.”
As I traversed the world, and interacted with people, I started to see how the Democratic Party has historically and currently helped working class folks such like me. I also become increasing aware of how far right and conservative the Republican Party is becoming (see the Tea Party). Additionally, I began to see the importance of local elections and getting involved on a town, county and state level.
Yet even still to me, the party didn’t matter; I would vote for who I thought would represent me the best. When I started to look at who I was voting for and supporting something striking happened; I realized I was a Democrat.
So why am I part of the Democratic Party?
First, the Democratic Party works hard to make it possible for young people to earn a college degree. As someone who is first generation college educated, I know first-hand how daunting both the application process and financial burden of attending college is.
Which was why I was outraged when Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney stated in a speech that: “They [read young people] get as much education as they can afford and with their time they’re able to get and if they have a willingness to work hard and the right values, they ought to be able to provide for their family and have a shot of realizing their dreams.” Is this the message we want for America? Who can really “afford” college these days?
I was lucky that I happened to have lived in a good school district and was able to get substantial scholarships to offset the extreme costs of a college education. The reality is that some people aren’t in good schools districts, don’t have access to the same standardized test preparation that I was afforded, and don’t have access to funding sources outside of Stafford Loans and Pell Grants. And we saw this year how Republicans in Congress tried to double the interest rates of Stafford Loans, which would essentially keep more middle class students in debt for longer.
Second, the Democratic Party stands with women. I work closely in the domestic violence field and have seen first-hand how devastating men’s violence against women can be. Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress use women as leveraging pieces.
A recent example of this is, is with the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This act provides funding to shelters and other direct service providers that engage in both primary prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as, making sure that the immediate needs of victims, such as housing and supportive services, are in place. The reason they stopped the reauthorization--- it included services for immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence as well as including those in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
I guess the message House Republicans are sending is that it’s ok to brutalize your partner if she is an immigrant or a lesbian. This is utterly unacceptable.
Third, the Democratic Party stands with working and middle class folks. Just look at the war Republican Governor Scott Walker is waging on working class people in Wisconsin. For a closer example look at our neighbor in NJ, Republican Governor Chris Christie.
They both paint the picture that our first responders (firefighters, police) and teachers are the problem and are “union thugs.” The Democratic Party knows that these people are hardworking and vital aspects of our community and are not getting rich off their public service.
In standing with middle class Americans, the Democratic Party is making sure we all have access to healthcare. According to a study released in June of this year, by Families USA, using data from all states, as well as the District of Columbia, they found that “Across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010”.
And if we add the amount of people who go bankrupt, lose their life savings or have to take out large loans because of an illness, this becomes a monumental social justice and economic issue. Thanks to President Obama, young people can stay on their parents health insurance until the age of 26, people cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, women can get increased access to preventive services and birth control and health insurance companies must spend 85% of premiums collected on actual healthcare services. This helps to ensure financial security for all Americans and may in fact save lives.
And lastly, taxes. President Obama is working to make sure the US Tax Code benefits a super majority of Americans. For far too long, the Bush Tax Cuts have benefited a small percentage of the super wealthy in our country. President Obama has called for Congress to pass the Buffett Rule which would make sure that 98% of Americans see no tax increase and many will see tax decreases.
These middle class tax cuts will have a much greater impact on our economy than giving money back to the super wealthy, like Republican Mitt Romney. The logic is simple, follow the money; our small businesses can use people spending money right here in Rockland as opposed to sending millions of dollars to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, as Mr. Romney has done.
I could go on and on... as there are so many compelling reasons as to why to be a Democrat and vote Democratic. This is especially true if you are: young, a senior, a woman, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender, a person of color, a union member, a small business owner and/or one of 98% of Americans who earn under $250,000 a year.