ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.
Letter to the Editor
This article is in response to a Bradford County (FL) Telegraph letter to the editor that appeared January 18, 2022. It had the provocative of title of "Parties need young intelligent leadership". Who could disagree with that, eh? The author initially took a couple of swipes at both the Democratic and Republican Parties to set up his case - and then moved on to other things. Not that the "other things" weren't very important, they were, but it had nothing to do with the title.
The author tosses in these three statements to back up his proposition:
- "The Democratic Party is all but dead"
- "It has been taken over by a group of liberal politicians led by a northern senator who is an 'admitted socialist' "
- "The Republican Party is led by an ex-president who is so arrogant he can't admit the majority of American voters don't like him"
Well, I can't disagree with his third point, but I certainly do with the first two: the Democratic Party is not "dead" nor is it led by liberals or socialists.
Following are two letters to the editor which I wrote to rebut the false accusations.
Letter #1 - The Democratic Party Is Not Dead!
I read the letter from Mr. Smith titled “Parties need young intelligent leadership” in the Jan 18th edition with great interest - initially. Then I discovered that beyond one swipe at the Democratic Party and another at the Republican Party, the remainder, even though it did address an extremely serious problem, didn’t have much to do with the original theme. Nevertheless, I need to object to two stereotypes the author brought up. The first is a reference to the Democratic Party being dead and the other is that the Democratic Party is controlled by a “group of liberal politicians led by a northern senator who is an admitted socialist”. Both are wrong on several counts. In this letter, I would like to address the first misstatement.
The Democratic Party is far from dead as evidenced by the many things the Democrats have delivered to the American people, and that includes all the citizens of Bradford County, plus the things they are still trying to get done. In all the vitriol being spread around today, it is easy to forget that it was the Democrats who delivered enough vaccines in less than four months to protect any American who wanted to be protected. How many of you remember facing financial ruin if the Democrats hadn’t delivered the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021? For decades, both parties have been trying to pass an infrastructure plan – the Democrats delivered on that as well. Even locally, the Bradford County Democrats’ “We Care” initiative, bundled together $26,000 in donations in 2021 to help various churches in our area provide food, meals, and supplies to those who needed it because of the pandemic. Personally, I don’t think that qualifies as “all but dead” but “very much alive and well”!
Further, from where I sit, even though faced with internal squabbles, the Democratic Party has a very good chance of delivering major portions of their Build Back Better plan to provide things like free, universal pre-school, so important to the development of young minds (which would provide the young, intelligent leadership Mr. Smith rightly suggest America needs). Or, affordable childcare – what Bradford County single mother or father doesn’t need this? Or, ramping up clean energy projects to help save our dying planet?
Only time will tell what else this very alive Democratic Party can deliver.
Letter #2 - The Democratic Party is Not Led by the Far Left or Socialists
I will preface this letter to the editor by noting that when the Right uses the term "liberal" they really mean "socialist". And, as I point out below, when they use the term "socialist", they don't know what they are talking about.
I read the letter from Mr. Smith titled “Parties need young intelligent leadership” with great interest, initially. Then I discovered that beyond one swipe at the Democratic Party and another at the Republican Party, the rest of the letter didn’t have much to do with the original theme.
Nevertheless, I need to object to two stereotypes the author brought up. The first is a reference to the Democratic Party being dead and the other is that the Democratic Party is controlled by a “group of liberal politicians led by a northern senator who is an admitted socialist”. Both are wrong on several counts. In a previous letter, I discussed the misplaced idea that the Democratic Party is dead – it isn’t. In this letter, I would like to address the second mischaracterization; several of them, actually.
First, I would like to point out that any person who has followed the news for the last twelve months would see that the Democratic Party is controlled by – well no one; liberal, moderate, conservative, or otherwise. Instead, Democrats are controlled by a set of ideals that emphasize personal liberty, while doing no harm to others, and social equity. While major initiatives were passed in 2021, two were not (not yet anyway): saving our democracy from the ravages of the backward-looking voter suppression laws passed in many states, including Florida, and the failure to pass President Biden’s signature Build Back Better plan. Had the Party been controlled just by liberals, both would be law by now.
Second, this notion that being “liberal” is a bad thing is very misplaced – it is not. If you have studied your history you will find that the “politicians” who wrote our Constitution were liberals. The fact is (and you can check this out) that if Conservatives of the day, known as Anti-Federalists, had their way, the Constitution would not have been ratified. The anti-Federalists used many of the same arguments but forward by the opposition today to try to defeat ratification.
It could further be argued that the “father of our Constitution” is not James Madison, but liberal English philosopher John Locke. His ideas can be found throughout the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Thomas Jefferson’s famous Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness found in the Declaration of Independence, as well as being enshrined in our Constitution, was based on John Locke’s Life, Health, Liberty, and Property.
While ideas of many philosophers of old (yes, that was part of our founders’ education back then) were the basis for the thinking of people like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and the like, John Locke had one of the loudest voices in forming our own founders’ beliefs. I am sure many reading this will be aghast, but the United States was definitely founded on liberal thought.
Lastly, it is clear to me that what “socialism” actually means is not very well understood by most people. That misunderstanding, and the Republicans' ability to stay on message, falsely accusing Democrats of promoting socialism, had a lot to do with Democrats losing many seats in Florida in the last election. I want to help clear that up. Socialism is an “economic” system, not a “welfare” system, as so many want you to think. Mr. Smith says that the “northern senator” (Bernie Sanders) is “an admitted socialist”. In fact, that is not true at all. Senator Sanders (an independent, by the way) declares himself to be a “democratic socialist” which is his way of saying he is a proponent of “social democracy” or reducing social inequality in our society .
Reducing the wide gap between the "haves" and the "have-nots" happens to be the goal of socialism as well, but the approach is entirely different. To that end, know that Senator Sanders is also an “avowed capitalist”. He absolutely believes in the benefits of capitalism. At the same time, he believes that regulations are needed to soften the negative impacts pure capitalism can have on society. This is different from Karl Marx (the father of socialism) who thought capitalism should be done away with altogether; an idea which we all, including Sanders, know is a terrible idea.
It is sad that hot button words like “socialist” get tossed about with impunity or any idea what that really means. But as they say, all is fair in love, war, and politics.
Words Have Meaning
Even if the saying "Actions speak louder than words" is true, words still have meaning. Words can incite (think Jan 6), they can hurt, they can provide dangerous misinformation (vaccines are dangerous when they are not), and they can leave lasting false impressions. The statements addressed above fall into the last category.
To say the "Democratic Party is Dead" when it is not true can, and probably will, turn off Democratic voters from voting - a terrible outcome. To falsely call the Democratic Party "socialist" is using a dog whistle to get unthinking Trump Republicans out to vote. Again, not a great outcome (it helped cost the Democrats several seats in Florida elections in 2020).
To make matters worse, the national and state Party leadership seems uninterested in mounting a frontal assault on such assertions. Maybe they think nobody pays attention to these words or are too intelligent to believe them. If so, leadership is wrong and it has and will cost Democrats control of the House and Senate in 2022.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 Scott Belford