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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Ten Foot Tall Fact

Today my brother Bob and his wife Linda traveled to Saint Petersburg to have a Christmas visit.  They brought their dog, Shannon.  Earlier in the day they had visited my nephew Mike, Mindy and family in Leesburg.  To visit us required four extra hours of traveling.  We had dinner together at our house and the conversation at one point turned to politics.  Though Bob and I were raised in a home where neither mother or dad seldom if ever talked politics, both parents were faithful voters at election time.  Both parents were Democrats, and now both Bob and I are Democrats.  I don’t ever remember us being politically indoctrinated as youngsters.  My father, a Methodist minister, felt strongly that it was his duty not to push his view of politics on anyone, and that attitude included his political deportment at home.  My mother also was anything but doctrinaire or strident in politics.  So I wonder how it is that both Bob and I are so in harmony politically.  We both are way more outspoken along this line than our parents ever were.  We have a degree of impatience with Republicans that we never saw at home growing up.  Despite my blog yesterday cautioning about any manner of compassion being helpful, I am led to believe that its tradition of compassion is what draws my brother and me to the Democratic Party.  The Democratic Party is for the underdog; the Republican Party is for the advantaged.  At least that’s how we sometimes perceive it. 

Maybe it does all go back to Social Security and the history of mother’s side of the family.  My mother’s father, a carpenter, died when she was twelve leaving the family without an income.  Mother had three siblings—two sisters and a brother.  People at the time encouraged my grandmother to split up the family, but she refused to do so.  As there was no Social Security, she took in laundry to eke out a living.  Times were desperately hard.  Mother, as the oldest child, had to drop out of school to get a job and help support the family. This history was not an oft repeated theme in our family, but both Bob and I knew about it.  It did not require repeating; it stood as a simple fact.  A Democratic president, Franklin Roosevelt, remembered the plight of the poor.  All these years later, we feel at home in the Democratic Party and view it as the party of compassion—sometimes enlightened, sometimes indulgent. The indulgent component has been sometimes tragic, at times disastrous. But the lodestar of the party remains empathy for those in deprivation for no cause of their own—the very existence of which is often denied by the advantaged. For example, “if they are down they should move to a better neighborhood,” seems to be the proffered solution. But such fast, simple answers derive from prejudice; not from understanding, love, and compassion. I will stick with the party that appreciates and accepts the complexities and difficulties of attaining a more just union—the party that moves towards (not away from) the underprivileged.

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