Message from the Chair: Why Are We Democrats?

Linda-Hoffmanl-1-300x380We believe in democracy. We believe in history.
We believe in human rights. And we will prevail.

Some of us were born Democrats. We are the children and grandchildren of Americans who came of age in the Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt offered hope to a nation in despair.

Others joined our party over the decades that followed. Democrats championed civil rights in the 1960s, equal rights for women in the 1970s, universal access to health care in the 1990s, and LGBTQ rights in the new century.

By contrast, Republicans seem to have increasingly lost their way. Recently, their stepped-up efforts to suppress voting, force unpopular laws on unwilling constituents and demand loyalty to budding authoritarians like Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis has created the perception that the GOP has rejected American democracy. Shocked, people are abandoning their party for ours, or to become Independent voters.

Democrats have much to offer. We value inclusion and diversity of all kinds, welcoming in pragmatic moderates, liberal idealists, committed Leftists and those with traditional conservative values like bodily autonomy. Our membership includes enlightened capitalists and democratic socialists. We may argue vigorously among ourselves over best directions for our party and our country—but we make room in our big tent for everyone who shares our values.

We believe that all people are created equal and deserve human rights and respect, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion.

We believe all people deserve shelter, healthcare, education and other basic human needs; that one reason government exists is to ensure that all of us have access to a social safety net when hard times come around.

We believe in democracy. That access to voting should be effortless. That every citizen has a right to speak out on any issue that concerns them. We support free speech in all its glorious noise and messiness.

We believe in history. Our country promoted slavery, displaced indigenous peoples, supported segregation and deprived women and many emigrants of basic human rights. We can move toward a more perfect union only if we acknowledge our tragic past transgressions and correct course for the future.

We believe humans have an obligation to respect and maintain the Earth.

Most of all, we are optimists. We are committed to the belief that we can make the world a better place for all of us—and all who come after us. And we don’t give up.

Two longstanding issues came up in the U.S. Senate last week: The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, and abortion. Democrats view the ERA as essential to ensuring that American women receive the full set of rights and legal protections enjoyed by American men. We consider access to safe, legal abortion an essential component of women’s healthcare.

A Texas woman vividly described the impact of being denied an abortion in a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Democrat Richard Durbin. Amanda Zurawski was 18 weeks into a much-wanted pregnancy when her water broke, dooming her fetus. But Texas law is so poorly worded, and the penalties so harsh, that healthcare workers were reluctant to perform an abortion—the standard treatment they would’ve provided without hesitation just a year earlier.

“I nearly died on their watch,” Zurawski said of her Republican senators. But Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, proponents of the Texas ban, didn’t bother to attend the hearing to find out how it affects their constituents.

As Democrats, we heard her. We are working to undo the harm caused by old men who want a say in whether a woman will become a mother.

The full Senate refused to extend the deadline by which states can ratify the ERA. Republicans argue that women are already protected by the 14th Amendment.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, wasn’t having it: “Women in America have far fewer rights today than they did even a year ago,” he said. “America can never hope to be a land of freedom and opportunity so long as half its population is treated like second class citizens.”

The ERA uplifts the needs of all women including immigrant women, low-income women, women of color, women with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community. As Americans, we have a right to move it forward.

We will try.

We’ll get knocked down.

We’ll get up again.

We will prevail.

Linda Hoffmann, Chair

Tompkins County Democratic Committee

Posted in Tompkins County.