Why I am a Democrat

Why I am a Democrat

To the people of the 36th District of Texas:

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…”  Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, 1776.

It would seem at first glance odd to use the first line of the Declaration of Independence as the lead off on an explanation of why a candidate, or a private citizen, had switched from the Libertarian to the Democratic Party; but, on reflection, it is possibly the best way to start.  237 years ago, the Declaration served as the explanation to the world as to why America would break off from the British Empire, our Founding Fathers addressed their grievances and the statement that the Empire no longer represented their needs, their desires or fit into their future.  Over the past year, I have discovered that the Libertarian Party no longer addresses my needs, my desires or my vision of the future of this country.  I have come to the conclusion that in examination of my core beliefs, that I am more aligned with the Democratic Party; as such, I seek to be elected as a Democrat.

The best way to begin explaining why I made the choice to switch parties could best be explained in why I was a Libertarian.  The idea of personal freedom is an appealing call.  At first glance the idea of the level of personal freedom would be attractive to any American.  We fought a revolution for the right to make our own path.  The Civil War, the First and Second World Wars have proven that Americans are willing to not only fight and die for their own freedoms, but to give the last full measure of human sacrifice for the freedoms of others. 

When taken at first glance, the Libertarian Party is attractive.  When you look at the looming federal debt; out of control spending, a federal government that seems to be out of control and mismanaged the idea of less government can be appealing.  After all, if the American people are entrusting that much money to the government, then it MUST handle that money efficiently and currently there is no proof that the Federal Government is doing that.  To many times we see Libertarians pointing out the corruption of government.

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary” James Madison- The Federalist Papers

 

The corruptibility of man is listed as the major flaw of government.  That the individual can make better choices that a government that is riddled with corruption;  after a while I began to wonder; if government fails because of corrupt men, then will not the same corruptness be found outside of government?

However, the answer is not the dismantling of our nation.  If our government is corrupt and out of touch, it is because we allow it.  You get the government that you vote in.  Shutting down the government is not the answer.  It is reform that is needed; it is a return to the progressive nature of Lincoln, of Theodore Roosevelt of FDR and of JFK that we need.

The first real time that I began to second guess the Libertarian movement is when I took a class on the Gilded Age.  The class was a real eye opener.  For those that are not well versed on the time period, government regulations would have been a Libertarian dream; there was little or no regulation of business. Government was small.  The nation was exploding in economic growth.

Unfortunately it was only to the benefit of the robber barons, the captains of industry.  Unless you were affluent, life was hard.  Workers were paid next to nothing; working conditions were horrid, children were worked just as hard as adults.  Any attempts at organizing or redressing these wrongs were met with sometimes deadly force.  If you were a minority or a woman, your rights were a joke at best. There were no protections for the worker, the consumer or the nation from the whims of the elite.

There was no limit to what a business could do.  Prices rose. The gap between rich and poor widened.  Government corruption was at an all time high.  We were a rich nation, that was fast becoming a economic power house, but at what price?

The rise of the Progressives in the early 1900s began to change all that.  Anti-Trust acts opened up the door to innovation and competition by making unfair business practices illegal.  Workers rights and child protection laws were passed.  The old adage, if you make overtime or your kid does not work in a sweat shop thank a Union is true.

So why would anyone want to return to that?

The answer simply could be the law of unintended consequences.  In the quest for government reform, we do not see the downside to what we propose.  We want less government, but do not realize that the loss of the EPA will not spur business as much as it would spur pollution.  We do not realize that a loss of the FDA will not streamline the process for better drugs, but allow unsafe drugs to be marketed.  We do not seem to understand that business will seek to make a profit even if it puts lives at risk.  That is an acceptable cost for them.  No business does the moral thing if it is unprofitable.

The idea of laissez-faire economics will not work, it never has.  Society should be about helping as many people as possible, not enriching a few.  That is not to say that success should not be encouraged, merely that it is possible to have more than a few win. 

I began to question many things in the Libertarian ideologies.  Extremely limited government is the calling card of the Libertarian side.  They point out the Austrian Economists of Misses, Hayek and Freidman as the shining path to a better economy.  In that path they oppose most if not all forms of government forays into the economy and most forms of government assistance.  However, they seem at times to cherry pick their works.

“There is no reason why, in a society which has reached the general level of wealth ours has, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom; that is: some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health. Nor is there any reason why the state should not help to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance in providing for those common hazards of life against which few can make adequate provision.”

 Friedrich Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom"

Even the pillars of the Libertarian economic system felt that true freedom could only be ensured with a social safety net.  So if they would have been in favor of modern Democratic Party issues, then it is arguable that any reasonable Libertarian should take a hard look at the Democratic Party.

So I took a hard look at the Democratic Party.  Both my personal belief on liberty and individual responsibility is held in the party platform.  Like the Democrat Party, I do not believe that money is equated to free speech, that corporations are NOT people.  Like the Democratic platform I believe that the middle class is the bastion if greatness for our nation.  That if we want to be truly strong and truly great we must invest in ourselves.

Democrats have traditionally felt the nation could achieve greatness.  At the height of the Depression, FDR felt that America could afford Social Security.  Kennedy felt that we could touch the surface of another planetary surface.  LBJ felt that we could be a great society.

America is about dreams.  America is about a better tomorrow.  America is about ensuring that all succeed.  It should be about how as many people as possible win.

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich”

Kennedy and Hayek were right in that regard.  A free nation that lets its weaker members fail for the benefit of the wealthy is not truly free.  A society is no stronger than its weakest citizens.  And from the best I can see, the Democratic party wants the most success for the most people.  For that reason, I am proud to go Blue.

But, in this era of politicians speaking what they feel needs to be said to be elected; I expect many to doubt that sincerity.  I understand it.  I would be leery as well.  I can only state that I ask that you judge me not only by my words, but my actions. 

Michael Cole

 

 

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