Say what you want about the Democratic Party – go on, say it – but don’t deny that it’s a rainbow. Those of us who support its platform, which includes basics like Rebuilding Middle Class Security, Protecting Rights and Freedoms, and Disrupting, Dismantling, and Defeating Al-Qaeda, should be especially proud of its diversity. While CNN did their very best to find an ethnic assortment among the crowd at the GOP convention last week in Tampa – and the GOP brass trotted out their up-and-coming minority stars like Mia Love (yawn) – those special few who made it on camera were generally surrounded by a lot of old and older white guys. Last night in Charlotte, it was the opposite. According to CNN’s coverage, we were the party of brown, black, and lesbians. Good for us.
And yet, I’m white. For all intents and purposes, my life has been privileged – not Willard ‘Mitt’ Romney-privileged. I was not named after hotel magnate J. Willard Marriot because he was not my father’s best friend. My dad’s best friend was a foul-mouthed comedian from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Honestly, as the youngest of five, I don’t know why my parents called me JoAnn if they weren’t calling me Jeanine (one of my sisters) or Bronwyn (our Irish Setter). I digress. My point? I’m white. I’m heterosexual. I had a good early education. Opportunity was there if I chose to seize it. But I also grew up in Los Angeles where Democrats are bred, where a belief in individual freedom is paramount and equal to an understanding that many Americans need a helping hand to experience and embrace those freedoms. I was brought up to believe that I don’t get to grab the brass ring and then not pass it around for others to hold.
We in California share a border with Mexico that doesn’t make us operate out of fear and distrust. We know that Latinos will soon surpass whites to make up the largest ethnic group in the state and so we choose to work together because we’re not idiots. Legislation like The Dream Act is common sense compassion to us.
On the issue of abortion, everyone I know wishes there were less of them. We also believe that contraceptive education provided by, among others, Planned Parenthood (along with breast exams and pap smears) is crucial. We also believe in the freedom to choose.
We’ve educated ourselves to know that giving millionaires and billionaires more money will not create more jobs. Any talk about continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and then increasing the amount of those cuts is absurd. This, from the Congressional Budget Office:
Deferring the scheduled increases in tax rates in 2011 would help some businesses as well as households. In particular, it would keep lower tax rates in place in that year for businesses that do not pay the corporate income tax (the pass-through entities such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, S corporations, and limited liability companies). However, increasing the after-tax income of businesses typically does not create much incentive for them to hire more workers in order to produce more, because production depends principally on their ability to sell their products. [CBO, January 2010]
We’re not all tree huggers here in the Golden State, nor do we all breakfast on granola and yogurt. But we believe in science and therefore global warming and think that environmental regulations are a good idea and not a job killer. In fact, we believe the pursuit of clean energy will ultimately create more jobs nationwide. Oh, and our grandchildren might appreciate our efforts to look at the long game so that the air they breathe, the food they eat, the water they drink, and the cars they drive won’t kill them prematurely. There’s that.
And there’s a whole lot more. San Antonio’s mayor, Julian Castro (introduced by his twin brother), said it last night, forcefully and passionately. Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick was even more impressive (and should run for president himself someday). But the night belonged to Michelle Obama. She didn’t talk down to me and for that, thank you. She reminded us that the problems this country faced four years ago would not be solved overnight or even in one term but that we had to keep on working. And then she made me cry. Watch the last five minutes of her speech and then think about politics, about how we vote, and how we want to answer to our children about our behavior, our conviction, and our integrity.
Some of the most gracious, altruistic people I know are Republicans. I can’t tell you why because I don’t understand myself. Many of them voted for Obama in 2008 but now they’re back in front of Romney and Ryan and getting sucked into the hysteria and lies – the biggest of which is ‘trickle-down’ or ‘supply side’ economics. Believe me, Democrats want everyone to pick themselves up by their bootstraps. We don’t want more government simply for the sake of more government. We want to continue to see people go back to work and buy houses that they can afford. We want Wall Street to succeed, just not at the expense of the middle class. We want everyone to pay their fair share.
Where was I? Oh yeah – the rainbow that is the Democratic party. I’m white and though I may be better represented in the GOP, I’m much more comfortable with a mix, with what America really looks like. You know things are changing when a Kennedy stands out among his fellow speakers. So good on us. Bill Clinton speaks tonight.
One last note: as a former runner of marathons, no one makes a mistake about running one in under three hours. Have I mentioned how much I dislike Paul Ryan? Use this calculator to see how fast you could run 26.2 miles in his world.