Carol Kuczora: What’s a Democrat? |

Carol Kuczora: What’s a Democrat?

I was shocked to hear Trump describe a violent person and call that a Democrat. I’ve never known a Democrat who fits that description. I was aware that when the police surrounded all the peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, certain individuals took advantage of the lack of police elsewhere to break windows. Agent provocateurs?

What does define a Democrat? In one word, fairness. Everything else is corollary.

When I was a child staying on my grandparents’ farm in the San Joaquin Valley, I noticed that some “Okie” neighbors had nothing. I felt sorry for them, especially when I realized that they couldn’t improve their lives if they couldn’t get a tractor or a deeper well or other necessities. That wasn’t fair. I proposed a scheme by which neighbors could share so everyone benefits. Grampa, the Grand Old Republican, looked as if he would take the razor strap to my butt. So, at the ripe age of 7, I gave up economic theory.

Nobody taught me to care about people who cannot “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” because they have no boots. Compassion feels instinctive. Is that why humaneness is properly called “humanity?” That sentiment of compassion is named for our species, suggesting it was considered the defining characteristic of humans. Caring, and seeking fairness, is natural to humans. It enables cooperation, which in turn enables civilization. That is exactly what motivates Democrats. We’re civil.

Our humanity is behind every issue item in the Democratic National Committee’s platform. For instance, the platform addresses a “fairer economy,” including wages, rights, jobs, trade, taxes, and leveling the economic playing field. It also seeks to achieve health care that is universal and affordable, and eliminates inequities. The Democratic platform seeks to restore and strengthen our democracy. It considers education at all ages a right that must not be limited by ability to pay. And it takes on the climate crisis and other environmental challenges that affect everyone.

These policies are simply ethical. They arise from instinctive compassion, and also from Christian teaching, in which universal compassion is central. Who should be denied healthcare when sick? No one. Who should be denied education? No one. Who should be denied food or water? No one. And if the private entities that operate for a profit cannot supply everyone with the necessities of life, that’s where government comes in. Safety nets are necessary to assure fairness — indeed, survival.

Consider the New Deal, a Democratic initiative that not only pulled us out of the Great Depression, but gave us work, Social Security, the federal minimum wage, rural electrification, and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

We are in a crisis when we need something similar. The Green New Deal does nothing more. Climate change threatens civilization and must be turned around for our children not to have a miserable existence. They know that. Their Sunrise Movement not only addresses that, but also calls for reducing injustices for the people most affected by climate change. Hence, the Green New Deal also calls for federal jobs, universal health care, and affordable housing — all urgent necessities.

Yet, there are people who do not appear to be motivated by ethical or compassionate considerations. The president, for instance, who has embarrassed the nation. And he attributes the most outlandish and bizarre behavior to Democrats, which I would expect no one to believe (torturing children? Really?). Plus, he is celebrated by criminals and white nationalists, many of them armed, who act in the most intimidating ways. In fact, some of them are reminiscent of Nazis. It’s hard to believe anything the president says, yet he has followers who apparently lack a healthy skepticism, making them vulnerable to scams or worse kinds of manipulation, including political. This is a danger to the American way of life and to our very democracy.

I believe democracy is worth preserving. People are entitled to a say in how they are governed, even if only indirectly by representatives (although we have a representative who consistently votes against help of any kind for people in need, as well as against the environment). Since most people are motivated by compassion and a sense of fairness as well as by self-interest, I trust that they will make worthy decisions. Let’s hope! We have an election coming up.

Carol Kuczora lives in Grass Valley.

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