One of the most common questions I get is this one: What do Democrats value?
Well, first of all, we’re people. So, we all prioritize and value different things. In fact, as I’ve said in the past, the fact that we have a two-party system is very limiting. After all, the United States has a population that’s large and diverse enough to justify between four and six major political parties.
The fact that we try to stick humans with their many thoughts, feelings and priorities into one of two parties — and then attempt to completely other members of a different party — is absurd. It’s also probably why an increasing number of voters, many of them younger, prefer to identify as unaffiliated.
Like most of those from this state, Idaho Democrats have a strong independent streak. Just as Rep. Gary Marshall made an effort during last year’s candidate forums to point to items in the state Republican platform with which he doesn’t agree, there are plenty of Idaho Democrats — including myself — that don’t agree with every single thing in our platform.
In general, though, Idaho Democrats value what many other Idahoans value:
- Hard work
- Policies that protect the vulnerable
- The outdoors
- Wise use of public funds
Idahoans are quick to help their neighbors and Idaho Democrats fall into this category. We’re volunteers at the Food Basket and Soup Kitchen. We belong to Civitans, Rotary and various other service and charity organizations. We attend church and might even sit in the next pew over.
Many Idahoans, regardless of party affiliation, recognize that there are various issues facing our state (and even our nation). Understanding that we can do better doesn’t mean that we hate something. My parents encouraged me to work hard and live up to my potential. My parents certainly didn’t hate me — they love me and want to see me succeed and do better.
As citizens of a representative republic, it’s up to us to help our country live up to its high ideals. Acknowledging that, as a state and as a country, we’ve sometimes fallen short doesn’t mean that we dislike where we are. It means that we love where we are — and we hope to progress in a way that brings our government in closer accordance with the lofty vision provided in our founding documents.
On top of that, demanding better from our leaders doesn’t mean we hate our state or country. It means that we expect our leaders to, well, lead. We hold them to a higher standard of civility and expect them to actually listen to their constituents. Unfortunately, the two-party system encourages leaders to sometimes behave badly. And in states where one party has a supermajority, it’s common for leaders to stop holding town halls and not listen to their constituents.
What’s even worse is when leaders assume that they only have to listen to members of their own party, and when party and “winning” are elevated above people, state and country. We’re getting dangerously close to that situation with the state of our current two-party system. It’s up to citizens of good will, no matter their party, to check the excesses we currently see.