“The beauty of the Democratic Party is in the mix.”
— Nancy Pelosi
Throughout our nation’s history, we’ve seen changes in the priorities and platform of political parties.
We thought it might be helpful to ask people today: Why Are You a Democrat?
Below are selected stories about how some of our members came to join our party. We’d like to hear from you regardless of party affiliation if just to learn more about our community.
Some snippets of our reasoning.
...we still support the same key values: unions, free public schools, teachers, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security ... affordable universal health care
...I couldn't associate with a Republican Party...their leaders appeased, and our values clashed.
I became a Democrat in 2017. While I didn't want to commit to a political party, I realized that one needed support and the other need to be stopped. I love my country. I want to defend it against all enemies foreign and domestic. Today's domestic enemies wave Old Glory and wear suits and neckties, They are far more dangerous than anything from overseas.
My country helped me when I needed it. I'm helping my country now that I can. Best way I can see helping America is by making it fair again. That's why I'm a Democrat.
Why I’m a Democrat
By Ray P., Port Charlotte, FL
When I started teaching in the 1960’s, I earned $5,200 per year. It wasn’t until almost a decade later, after Schenectady teachers embraced New York State United Teachers, that my salary reached $10,000 per year. Soon, Schenectady teachers were enjoying regular 5% yearly increases due to aggressive collective bargaining. Such raises were unheard of before we joined NYSUT.
At that time, unions were still strong in every walk of life, protecting the salaries of middle class working families. The Democratic party strongly supported unions and the public school system. Hence, most public school teachers were registered Democrats. So it was a no brainer for me to become a Democrat.
Over the course of my career, I saw corporate America and the Republican party intentionally undermine and weaken our unions. The unions, instead of strengthening their ties to the Democrats as they lost their pensions, raises, and control of their workforce, blue collar union members moved to the Republican side, against their own best interests. We Democrats have also lost the full support of the Obama Coalition, even though we still support the same key values: unions, free public schools, teachers, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and most of all, affordable universal health care. We just haven’t done a very good job of telling this to the American people.
At any rate, if the Trump victory has taught us anything, it is that we must shout our values from the rooftops, or be prepared to lose again.
Why I’m a Democrat
By Lori Wisniewski, Punta Gorda, FL
As a new voter at age 18, my first presidential election was in 1984. Like many young people, I didn’t know a lot about political parties and what values each represented. To be fair, I think it was a lot harder to tell back then. I grew up on a Midwestern farm in central Illinois and leaned on my parents for guidance. Their opinion was that most of the shrieking you hear in the news come from the extremes at either end of the political spectrum. But that most people fall somewhere in the middle with their beliefs. I didn’t disagree with them then and I feel the same way now. In 1984, Reagan was seen as steady and fair. And he was in the middle. So when I registered to vote, I registered as a Republican and cast my first vote for him. That may have been the only Republican I’ve ever voted for. I consider it a youthful indiscretion.
Experiences and age have a way of revealing our values over time. As I moved through college and marriage and work and home ownership and motherhood, I started to pay more attention, understand which party cared about the same things I cared about and began to make the connection to being a Democrat. I continued to stay disassociated with either party, though I was still a registered Republican, for years. I bragged that I voted ‘person over party’ if the subject came up with friends or family. But I always voted D because that’s who cared about the same things I cared about.
Standing on the sidelines changed after the 2000 election. Bush vs Gore. I still remember the excitement I felt about potential environmental, social, and economic changes with Gore. I liked his style, I believe in what he said, I paid attention. Bush was an embarrassment – a bumbling rich boy fulfilling his family destiny. Gore wanted it to make a difference. Bush wanted it because he was used to getting what he wanted. The weeks after that race, when Florida stole the election from Al Gore as the country watched and waited to see who the next leader would be – that was when I Became a Democrat. When it was all over I felt cheated, violated, angry, and sad. I changed my registration shortly after that and have been a proud Democrat ever since.
I realized during that time that if Republicans had to cheat to win, I didn’t want anything to do with them. And they’ve continued to prove me right. Restricting voting access, gerrymandering district lines, and weaponizing philanthropy – legally – under Citizens United are actions that have altered the political landscape in this country forever. Or until fair-minded Democrats are back in power.
Here’s what I believe:
I believe more, not fewer people should vote.
I believe education is an investment that benefits everyone. EVERYONE.
I believe healthy people making a good living contribute to society in a positive way and people who have to worry about going broke from being sick or where their next meal comes from have less capacity or desire to contribute anything positive to society.
I believe in marriage equality, gender equality, and racial equality. A person should be defined by what they add to the world, not who they love, what gender they identify with, or something as superficial as skin color. Not in 2017.
I believe if you have to use words like ‘God’, ‘bible’, or ‘Christian’ to explain your political views, those views aren’t political at all.
I believe we get one planet, and we’re effing this one up…on purpose.
And I believe if we pulled the giant plug out of the wall at Facebook headquarters, we’d all be better informed, less angry, and we would find that we’re more the same than we are different.
Because most of us are still in the middle.