Conservative – a desire to uphold traditional values; a belief that the good old days were the best of times. To be more specific, a lot of Republicans harken back to the past as a way to guide the future and claim that America’s decline can be partially attributed a degradation of moral values. I’m a Democrat because I believe that the progressive ideas that are now being made into policy actually help America, and that as we move to make our society more inclusive and liberal we only reinforce and strengthen our democracy. I joined the party so that instead of holding people back for trying to live their lives on their terms, I can support them in their pursuits. Traditional values restrict and constrain. Something that isn’t said enough is that these “traditional values” are to blame for all the oppression that minorities in this country face. At one point, traditional values were the basis for the illegality of interracial marriages and these same traditional values were used to define a marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The reason why I bring up these traditional values and their role in Republican ideology is because that was one of the only things that almost every Republican candidate agreed upon during their last debate.
The weight of these traditional values on social policy is suffocating. We are a country built on diversity. People flocked to our nation to pursue freedoms that were unheard of in other parts of world. These freedoms grew out of our country being one of the first to put emphasis on the individual rather than the society. It’s ironic then that, although Republicans are thought of as the party of the individual, they are the ones who want to infuse the values of the few upon the many. This was seen in the fight over gay marriage in which Republicans depended on the Bible to justify their positions instead of the Constitution. Another area of policy where the Bible has taken precedence over secularism is access to abortion. Recently, in conservative states such as Texas, there have been huge rollbacks on access. This leads to abortions performed in unsafe conditions and endangers the health of women. In immigration policy, there has been a heightened focus on bluster instead of policy with pundits such as Ann Coulter claiming that immigrants are importing so-called “peasant culture.” Some people romanticize these “traditional values” of the past. That needs to stop because it leads to policy based on racism, homophobia, and xenophobia.
I’m tired of hearing people discuss the past as if there will be nothing greater in the future. I have a stake in the future and I plan that every day will be better than the previous one. How can this be accomplished? We as a country have to keep the past in mind but we can’t accept it as all that ever will be. America is esteemed for its dynamism. It’s hard to pin down what being American really is, but it mainly involves change. The times are changing. Every day brings new problems and we have to counter them with new solutions. I’m a Democrat because I believe there’s always room to improve. We have to change, we have to progress.