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Monday, December 22nd, 2014
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Why I am a Democrat


By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Mon, May 26th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Steve Colbert recently pointed out that the “2 percent” of wealthy people in the United States are a “minority”, therefore Democrats should be nice to them!

On C-SPAN an elderly man was interviewed. He said that being part of the “top 1 percent” is a very nice place to be. He followed with “after all, we are holding up the rest of the country!” I was stunned. Talk about an alternate reality!

For the first 11 years of my life FDR was president. One morning on the way to school I passed a flag pole and saw the “stars and stripes” at half mast. The President had died. It had never occurred to me until that moment that the day would come when he would no longer be there to guide our country. Through the Depression and World War II our family gathered around the radio and listened to the ringing tone of his voice as he rallied the nation with his fireside “chats”.

FDR was elected in 1932. He was faced with the effects of the stock market crash and Great Depression. Between 13 and 18 million Americans were unemployed. He offered the job of Secretary of Labor to Francis Perkins. Early success in the New Deal was attributed to her skills in developing the CCC ( Civilian Conservation Corps), minimum wage, short work week, federal laws regulating child labor and workers safety’’. She crafted the plan for Social Security which became FDR’s signature domestic achievement. He brought electricity to farmers in rural areas and repealed Prohibition.

In a speech at the Democratic Convention in 1936 FDR acknowledged that Presidents do make mistakes. He stated, “Better the occasional faults of government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” In his State of the Union address in 1940, President Roosevelt set out what became known as “the essential Four Freedoms of Democratic life, the freedoms of speech, worship, from want and from fear.”

Harry S. Truman followed. He reasoned that if the war with Japan dragged on more lives would be lost than if he resorted to using the Atomic bomb. It was a difficult decision. After the surrender of our enemies, President Truman decided we needed to maintain a military presence in Europe and rebuild European nations with whom we could trade and profit. He oversaw the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift. With the threat of Communism growing, he introduced a policy of “containment”which became known as the Truman Doctrine. As the result of moving away from isolationism and broadening our conception of national security, we found ourselves in another war with North Korea. During this conflict President Truman made a revolutionary and courageous decision to integrate the military. Somehow he found the time and managed to convince congress to fund renovation of the White House which was badly damaged in the war of 1812 and in danger of collapse.

In 1961 John Fitzgerald Kennedy became President at 43. During his time in office he established the Peace Corp, exercised restraint during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He invited Martin Luther King to the White House to discuss crafting a civil rights bill. In response to Russia putting a man in space, Kennedy ordered a crash program to put the first man on the moon in ten years. This came to pass in 1969 after his death.

With his untimely death, Lyndon B. Johnson became President. He signed the Civil Rights Act into law July 2, 1964, knowing that with the stroke of his pen he would lose the southern Democrats. Where did they go? To the Republican party!

Medicare became law on July 30, 1965. It has been in operation for 49 years.

His platform was defined by Hubert Humphrey who became his Vice-President. “----a war on poverty, economic growth, world peace, security and Medicare, human dignity, human rights, education and opportunity for the young.” Regrettably this initiative lost momentum as President Johnson allowed himself to be drawn into the war in Vietnam, which was a disaster.

In 1992 Bill Clinton took over the Oval Office. After a series of blunders in his first year, the Democratic party suffered a major defeat in the midterm elections, losing eight Senate seats and 44 House seats to the Republican party. Like a wrestler who does his best fighting when on his back, President Clinton reversed his political fortune. He confronted the American terrorist responsible for bombing the Federal building in Oklahoma City and “ brought the genocidal civil war in Bosnia to an end.”

Newt Gingrich who wanted automatic weapons back on the streets, to abolish the Federal Department of Education, Commerce and Housing and to curtail Medicare and Medicaid, threatened to shut down the U.S government. President Clinton resisted the threat. Gingrich did shut down the government and paid a price for his behavior.

Due to the President’s 1993 economic bill, the economy took a leap forward. Ten million jobs were added, unemployment was at its lowest level for 28 years. He raised taxes on the top “2 percent”and aided in the process of bringing about peace in Northern Ireland.

When Barack Obama became President in 2009 he inherited a failing economy and two wars. His first month he passed into law a stimulus package, confronted the financial crisis on Wall Street, assessed our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, started the process of bringing these wars to an end and tackled the accelerating cost of healthcare.

As a young man he embraced public service, as a community organizer, civil rights attorney, Senator and finally as President of the United States. He signed the “Lilly Ledbetter” Fair Pay Act into law and reauthorized “Schip” to cover an additional four million uninsured children. He appointed two new judges to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor and brought Osama bin Laden to account for his deeds.

He has been sustained during the awesome tasks imposed by his office by his religious faith. He is motivated by the teachings of the New Testament which requires us to care for the poor. We are told to feed the hungry and heal the sick. We are cautioned “lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt (lay away treasures for yourselves in Heaven)---for where your treasures are, there will your heart be also.” Further, “---what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” drawn from the book of Matthew.

In writing this I am not deliberately excluding the “good” done by Republicans or the “bad” things done by Democrats. I’ve attempted to show a record of a party that has demonstrated over the years a commitment to civil rights and pursuing a course that offers opportunity for “All” Americans!

(I used “American Caesars” and the internet as a source for information.)

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