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.