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Why I'm Not a Democrat

Republicans may act like children, but the Democrats are guilty of not acting on behalf of them.

I’ve written a lot about politics in my time as a blogger on this site, and occasionally have taken flak in the comments section from people who believe I am lying when I say, definitively, that “I am not a Democrat.” 

So I thought I’d explain. 

Because I can assume that when people read that I think Republicans are acting like children, or when I say the latest crop of GOP Presidential front-runners are literally definable as idiots, that a black-and-white minded person would instantly assume I must be a proud member of the other party. 

But my politics are more complicated than that.

Let’s start with what I am definitely not, and work forwards. 

I am definitely not a 21st Century Republican. I don’t know what’s happened in this country in the last fifteen to twenty years, but there’s something terrible in the way we’ve abandoned common sense in approaching and discussing our problems, and I blame that change in rhetoric squarely on the GOP. 

In 1988, Republican George HW Bush famously said the words, “Read my lips:  no new taxes.” He later took a look at the economic recession the country was in, realized he had to fall on his sword to do the right thing for our prosperity, and committed a GOP "sin." 

That is a responsible politician. 

That, to me, is a Republican who is interested in “country first.” 

But I believe, as someone who tries to remain as objective as possible, that those responsible sentiments and candidates are few and far between in the GOP, version 2012; so I am sometimes forced — and I do mean that — to default to the Democrats. 

And yes, I am almost entirely liberal; that is to say that I believe in responsible forward-thinking, and constantly reviewing our laws for common sense to match the times, rather than a strict interpretation. 

I believe we are a liberal country; and I believe it is written in our history. I believe the Founding Fathers were intensely, almost radically liberal, in deciding upon the framework of a nation that was malleable enough to be adjusted later.  I believe Lincoln—regardless of his party affiliation—made a liberal decision in freeing the slaves. 

I believe religious conservativism brought us the joke of Prohibition, and liberalism brought us its repeal, Women’s Suffrage, and the Civil Rights Movement. I believe all the great people our society has ever followed the teachings of— past, present, and future—were Liberals: from Jesus Christ straight through Martin Luther King Jr.

And so, yes, the Democrats have more aligned themselves to my thinking than the Republicans.  But let’s be clear about something else:  I do not strictly associate the concept of liberalism with the Democrat party, either.   I don’t believe that either of these two parties can claim a monopoly on forward progress in society.  

Hell, lately, neither of them can.

As proof, and most importantly, the Democrats have abandoned me on the most important issue in our country today: Education.

Barack Obama, his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and local Democrats like Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, are not only allowing the problem of our public school decay to get worse, they are actually accelerating it with programs like “Race to the Top.” 

They are aligned with historically conservative plans that I (and, I would argue, many researchers and a majority of teachers) believe to be misguided, hackneyed theories based on incorrect assumptions and boldly stupid statistics.  Obama believes in the fraudulent illusion of charter schools as a legitimate, apples-to-apples choice for education. 

The Democrats are doing nothing to stop the loss of public sector jobs at the state and local level—a fact somehow reversed by the Right — which has thrown away any job security I could have as a relatively new teacher (even with tenure) — and done nothing but talk about the hiring of new teachers when Boomers retire.  They assist in perpetuating the pre-supposition that all teachers need to first be “held accountable” before we fix any of the other, myriad of issues that contribute to a student’s lack of success. 

They were meek in coming to the aid of unions during a Republican onslaught against teachers in 2011. They believe in testing. They believe in Merit Pay. They believe in all the things that a businessman would do to try to reform education.

Except that education is not a business. 

Education is not even analogous to running a business. Someone who has been in a classroom and who actually does this job knows that. And now in education, both parties are aligned in turning a deaf ear to teachers’ voices in the process of education reform.  Their lip service (of late) is commendable. The reality of their actions is deplorable.

And so, yes, I am a liberal. 

And yes, I tend to vote for Democrats when there is not a Republican candidate or idea that makes more sense than what they have proposed. But I am stark, raving mad about the way they have abandoned what I consider to be the single most important issue — in perpetuity — in our country.

And that is why I cannot call myself a Democrat.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Richard Butler February 21, 2012 at 04:04 PM
James "when something can't go on forever - it will stop" - what a brilliant perspective. I believe what Mr/ Steins point was - is that if a trend can't support itself that it will cease on its own with no action or intervention needed. I believe the tea party missed the point when pursuing issue 2, and the recent "right to work sham" . When you people that's right I said "you people" because I think less of you. try to read what smart people say - you get it all messed up. The truth is you don't "want" to fund education anymore because your kids are both graduated. You selfish old tax avoiding tea party nutjobs have to deal with this math fact: You're kids got a great education from my taxes all these years. Now is your chance to pay back. If it gets more expensive than we will take more of your check. You are going to pay all the teachers that it requires to do the job. Here's another smart saying for all you tea party fools. If I have to go to the bathroom really bad but don't pull down my pants.....I will fill them up. James - I feel sorry for your kids that you raised them. Thank God for public education. If you educated them they would be a couple a narrow minded pea brains.
James Thomas February 21, 2012 at 04:14 PM
Richard Butler, it is a brilliant perspective, it is a fact. Deny it if you can but it IS STOPPING. Wheather you recognise it matters not one whit. The fact that you can't figure out how your belt works does not effect me or my two very smart children at all. I bet your wife doesn't appreciate it though
Richard Butler February 21, 2012 at 04:35 PM
James, just specifically citing how you spell wheather and recognise, You should be the most concerned about the end of public education. My belt works just fine. I have no debt. Just pay me utilities and my taxes in case you knock the old lady up again and I need to pay for school for a third time. I'm sure your children are very bright. They should be for what the tax payers have invested in them. I bet they are educated enough to be thankful. Unlike you, who refuses to invest in other children so they have the same chances yours will. It's probably easier for a gear head like you to blame teachers or unions on your situation. Herbert Stein also said this: "Economists are very good at saying that something cannot go on forever, but not so good at saying when it will stop"
Chriss February 21, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Tired of Republican "holier then thou" attitudes. If they follow Jesus teachings "give to the poor and give to Caesar what is Caesar's" The wealthy, in this country, certainly do not believe in Jesus teachings.
James Thomas February 21, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Richard Butler, I am not the one who introduced mean-spirited potty allusions into this discussion. Your belt may work fine but it is what it is, that does not mean I credit you with the intellegence to use it properly. Unfortunately you can vote.
James Thomas February 21, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Chriss, and since the "wealthy" are majority Democrat now they sure don't give to the poor or to Ceasar or to Jesus for that matter. Look it up Chriss, the proof is there if you look for it.
Michael Steinbach February 21, 2012 at 05:51 PM
James - you're not making much sense here. If the majority of the wealthy are democrats, and the majority of democrats (see gallup poll) seek to tax the rich more. Then I would say the democrats are real people of virtue willing to sacrifice for the poorer. It seems by your logic the republican don't even want to give the democrats money to the poor. Now that's just plain down and dirty mean. I don't mean to callously throw around "mean-spirited potty allusions" but it seems that what your proof alludes to. http://www.gallup.com/poll/147104/democrats-republicans-differ-widely-taxing-rich.aspx According to this: 71% of rich democrats think they should give more money to the poor. 69% poor republican think that the democrats should keep their money and the poor should not get any. Now you tell me which party lines up more with the way Jesus wanted it to be? I think it's more likely you're a republican because your dad told you to be. Oops - there's more of that potty stuff going on. I will respect your opinion, but please do not use the potty reference again.
Jack Kelly February 21, 2012 at 06:21 PM
"We are at the point where education funding can not continue at it's present level." Says who? A bunch of borderline-leaches who refuse to support the schools (or really anything else in the city) meanwhile benefiting greatly from the quality of their district? I can't help but laugh at those who do nothing but complain about schools, while what they're really doing is showing THEY are the ones who need the schooling. I also find it humorous that it's the same clan of complainers who think teachers make all this money and should keep taking cut after cut, sacrifice after sacrifice year after year after year (and they have been for years!!). And people can spare me the what the "average" salary of a teacher is because I'll suggest you crack open a dictionary and learn the meaning of the word "average." Oh, I am not a teacher, do not work for the district, nor does anyone in my family, nor are we in a union. So much for some of you who rely on the typical & unoriginal "oh, you must be a teacher" responses. Are there issues with funding? Yes -- because we have a calculation for funding public education in Ohio that has been ruled unconstitutional 4 different times since 1997 (the DeRolph ruling). A ruling that REPUBLICANS have flat-out ignored since then, by the way. We also have too many school districts in Ohio (just over 600). Teachers salaries are not the cause. IF they are, then cite some substantiated proof. Not a blog, or opinion piece, or a partisan site.
James Thomas February 21, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Jack H., "Says who?" Reality that's who. If the money isn't there, it's not there. It would be like trying to breathe in space, no matter how much goodwill space has for you it can't give you your next breath. And space really does not care. As to who might be the " bunch of borderline-leaches" I can only relate that when my property tax bill came in Feb., despite a decline of 10% in valuation for my home I was hit with a 10% increase in the property taxes that went to the school system. I voted against the tax increase but it passed so I pay it. I am not refusing to support the schools, I don't have that option.
James Thomas February 21, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Michael S., You need to get on Richard Butler's case about the potty references. You are right, Republicans don't want to compel even democrats to give their money to the poor. Neither would we stop them from choosing to give it. The fact is that, according to the IRS, Republicans and Conservatives give far more in private charitable donations than liberals and democrats do. Nothing is stopping them from giving money to the poor or supporting whatever cause they wish, but I would not compel them to do it either. Oh, my father was a Kennedy democrat till the day he died, good thing he wasn't around to see how JFK tarnished his own legacy.
John Williams February 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Republicans and Conservatives give more to "private charitable donations", because churches count as "private charitable donations".
James Thomas February 21, 2012 at 08:50 PM
John Williams, that would be because they are private and charitable organizations.
John Williams February 21, 2012 at 09:14 PM
James, In my opinion, churches aren't charitable organizations. I think the money given to churches should be listed as "entertainment" spending.
James Thomas February 21, 2012 at 09:49 PM
John W., Good thing the IRS does not agree with you. I know my church does a great deal of charitable work in many areas and educates several hundred students in its school. If that is what you deem entertainment then I beg you to reassess your definition. If NPR/PBS are charitable organizations and not just entertainment then I think you must allow that churches earn the right to their claims of being charitable.
Jack Kelly February 21, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Your claim of "reality" is not based in fact. You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own set of facts. So stop attempting to pass off your beliefs as fact. Interesting how you stated you voted against the levy, but in the same breath you complained how your property valuations dropped. Having a school district like we do in S/MF costs money to maintain the level we do. WE -- those of us with families -- moved here for a reason. And we realize it costs money. Or, if people have a problem with that, they can move to a city where a district offers the bare minimum and/or is under state control. Property there should be cheap (because families certainly aren't moving there). Also, some of these people who love to vote no on everything probably should face actual REALITY that perhaps they simply can no longer afford to live in a city. You can't expect top-notch this and excellent-that, and constantly refuse to support it, complain when it's not there and/or expect those workers to take a cut time and time again. That's the height of hypocrisy and selfishness. I can turn the tables & say to them: "I'm sick of paying for YOUR Social Security or your entitlement programs you're getting more out of than you paid into it; it's NOT benefiting me! So, get a job!" Yeah, I didn't think they'd like that. People who complain constantly should direct their ire to our legislature to fix school funding. Until they do, districts do not have a choice than levies.
Jack Kelly February 21, 2012 at 10:39 PM
NPR & PBS are non-profits & never claim to be charitable organizations.
Lynda Zielinski February 21, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Just think for a moment if all the money going into political campaigns would instead be put into education, or any worthwhile endeavor. Billions of dollars wasted. We can find the money for what matters if we so choose.
gerg February 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM
Lynda, now there is a good idea: for every dollar you contribute to a political campaign, another dollar must go to public investment in education/infrastructure/economic development .
Debbie S. February 22, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Sadly, it's not a lack of money that is the root of the problems in education, infrastructure, & economic development: it's WASTED or misspent money. Throwing money at a broken system won't fix it, no matter how much you pour in.
* February 22, 2012 at 02:55 PM
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” ― Abraham Lincoln
Phyllis Stager February 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
As a fellow Libertarian, may I say, 'well said, Tony'!
Phyllis Stager February 22, 2012 at 06:48 PM
I got a kick out of Richard Butler correcting your spelling....he should have proofed his own submission: "You're kids got.....". This contraction of You're says: 'You are kids got...". Imagine that....it just doesn't pay to be so snarky! This bit of snarkiness sort of
keith a dewey March 20, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Without knowing it you have delineated between the institution of education and economics. One is not the model for the other. Good going.
Damon koch April 12, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Patrick, It is true that the founding fathers were classic Liberals, that is to say they adhered to the root of that word, "Liberty". Something that modern Liberals abhor. The classic Liberals up to the early 1900s would today be called Conservatives. Conservatives wish to conserve the principles and values set forth in the country's founding documents, and which guided us for most of the last 230-some years until the last 50 to 60 years. The modern Liberal believes in the power of government over the individual in every regard from what we eat to what kind of light bulbs we use and how much energy we can use. The founders were centered on economic freedom and didn't believe in a government which meddled in the private financial affairs of its citizens. Current Liberals, led by President Obama, confiscated wealth from those who have earned it and give it to those who haven't, like they did with the GM bond holders. This is not only immoral but against constitutional contract law.
Victor Mooney April 20, 2012 at 09:50 PM
The word you are choking on is, "progressive"---and the solution to your "problem" is to take a look at your Salary, Benefits, and Retirement. Within two or three years, they will require 95% of the education dollar----If you will notice that school systems are dropping unnecessary workers and administrators, and secretatries, and yes even teachers by the hundreds--pretty soon you may have to teach your own classes----then you and Barbara Striesand can find more to cry about---thank you for your kind attention!
Gary Livick April 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Chriss If it weren't for those "evil" rich people, those "poor" people would NOT get any help. That "evil" rich guy, Mitt Romney for example gave $42 million to charities last year! Wonder if you combined ALL the Democrats together, except those "Evil", "rich" Democratic supporters like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates. Jeffery Immelt, etc......if the total the same as Mitt? LOL......I guess my conservative friends , with the "holier then thou" attitudes are the ones who have sunk this country.
Gary Livick April 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM
The U.S. currently provides more money than any other nation per pupil in the world! How much money do we need to see results? While N. Canton has awesome results, that will not help the system. There was an organization introduced to schools that has no accountability which has hurt the schools, and with the divorce rate skyrocketing, one parent/fatherless homes increasing, and the decrease in discipline in schools, well the results across the nation are obvious. The U. S. continues its descent in the rankings.
Phyllis Stager April 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I guess the poor are poor because of the rich. Does dependency on government or charity inspire principle and self-reliance?
Phyllis Stager April 21, 2012 at 11:56 AM
OECD, International Student Assessment report: the USA ranked 14th out of 34 countries for reading, 17th out of 34 for science and 25th out of 34 in math. And guess what....we spend more per pupil on education than any other nation in the world. I would say we are not getting our money's worth.
Gary Livick April 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Yes Victor, AND the reason that has happened is leaders like Gov. Walker, Gov. Christie, Gov. Kasich have the guts to address the financial woes of their states! While almost every worker that is non-union provides for most of their healthcare, and retirement, AND must work until they are 65, I get a kick out of the folks who just can't understand why concessions are required. I'm sure most folks have had to sacrifice raises, bonuses, etc. during these economic times.....but they do so with their salaries, NOT taxpayer provided dollars! I won't get into every reason here, but the union brainwashing will hit home should their position be "eliminated", or "cut!"

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