Why I’m Proud To Be A Democrat
The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the world and we have always represented the middle class and the common man. In contrast, the GOP has steadfastly represented big business and the wealthy. Over the years, the Democratic Party has racked up an impressive list of accomplishments that have benefited the middle class, senior citizens, the poor and the sick. We are the party of the people.
The first modern Democratic President was Franklin Roosevelt and he established the template that the government should help the people and do everything it can to ameliorate adverse economic conditions. FDR took office during the dark days of the Great Depression in 1933 and restored much needed hope.
FDR did more than just inject a needed dose of confidence — his New Deal programs ended the Great Depression. Between 1933 and 1940, the unemployment rate declined from 25% to 15%. The defense buildup required by World War II ultimately restored full employment.
Under Roosevelt, the U.S. established a safety net for the first time in the nation’s history. His most significant domestic accomplishments were Social Security and a minimum wage law. These needed progressive reforms were bitterly opposed by the conservative wing of the GOP and the wealthy.
FDR’s hand picked successor’s accomplishments were mainly in the area of national security since the Republicans controlled Congress during most of the Truman presidency. Harry Truman established the post-World II alliance system that laid the foundation for the eventual U.S. victory in the Cold War. On the domestic front, Truman was able to expand Social Security benefits to an additional 10 million Americans.
Truman also laid the foundation for future Democratic successes. He made a major push for civil rights for African-Americans by integrating the armed services and he introduced a universal health insurance bill.
President John Kennedy picked up the torch from Truman and made the enactment of civil rights legislation and Medicare a high priority. On the national security front, JFK deftly handled the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. JFK was able to get the Soviet missiles peacefully removed from Cuba and saved the world from a devastating nuclear war.
After President Kennedy’s tragic death, Lyndon Johnson declared: “Let us continue.” As president, LBJ managed to enact JFK’s agenda and then some. As a matter of fact, LBJ had one of the most impressive legislative legacies in U.S. history. Due to LBJ’s legislative prowess, he was able to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Once again, all of these reforms were bitterly opposed by the right wing of the GOP.
Before the passage of Social Security and Medicare, poverty among the elderly was a serious problem. Moreover, most senior citizens couldn’t obtain health insurance because the private health insurance industry couldn’t make money on them. The combination of Social Security and Medicare has reduced poverty among the elderly from 50% to 9%.
Due to divisions in the Democratic Party, LBJ’s presidency was follow by the presidencies of Nixon and Ford. The Nixon presidency collapsed due to the Watergate scandal and Ford’s pardon of Nixon led to the election of Jimmy Carter.
Like Truman, Carter’s most important achievement was in the area of international relations. Jimmy Carter brokered the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978–79. Before this peace treaty, there were four all out wars between Israel and its neighboring nation states between 1948 and 1973. Since 1979, there have been none.
Once again due to divisions in the Democratic Party in 1980, the GOP held the White House for the next twelve years under Reagan and Bush 41. There was talk during the 1980s that the GOP had a permanent lock on the electoral college.
Bill Clinton broke the Nixon-Reagan coalition in 1992 and was easily re-elected in 1996. This was a history making political achievement that literally drove the right wing of the GOP into madness.
As President, Bill Clinton created 22 million jobs, reduced unemployment to 4%, increased middle class wages and reduced poverty to a 20 year low. In addition, he balanced the budget for the first time since the Eisenhower Administration and bequeathed a $5 trillion surplus to his successor.
Unfortunately, Bush 43 managed to wreck Clinton’s hard won accomplishments and left behind to President Obama the worst economy since 1933. When President Obama took office, the economy was losing 800,000 jobs per month, the auto industry was broke and the banking system was on the verge of collapse.
Thanks to President Obama’s leadership, the economy was saved. By the time Obama left office, the economy was creating 200,000 jobs per month, middle class wages were rising, poverty was in decline and the Dow Jones had tripled. The unemployment rate fell from 10% to 4.6%.
On the health care front, the Affordable Care Act insured 20 million additional Americans and the uninsured rate declined from 18% to an all time low of 9%. Moreover, pre-existing conditions clauses were banned.
The accomplishments of our past Democratic presidents make me proud to be a Democrat. It also makes me more determined than ever to elect more Democrats. We are here to represent the people — since the wealthy are already represented by the GOP. Now let’s get it done!