Democrats believe in a strong central government that preserves our rights, protects our health and safety, ensures equal opportunity, stands strong against our adversaries, treats our allies with respect, and, most importantly, works for us, not vice versa. Some specifics:
1. Effective, fiscally responsible government.
An Ayn Rand-style utopia is a pleasant but unworkable fantasy that ignores the fact that we must include the government when we pay for goods and services. Government provides much — armed forces, police, infrastructure, scientific research, the arts, safety nets for the most vulnerable, etc. — that private industry can’t or won’t. Taxes are analogous to fee-for-service, but it’s a mistake to carry that analogy too far. Unlike business, government’s function is not making money, and while it requires a solid financial base, successful governing takes an entirely different mindset.
We are not opposed, per se, to carefully applied tax breaks and incentives to stimulate productivity and employment. But we recognize the need for regulations ensuring fair business practices along with worker and consumer safety. History has proven repeatedly that industries won’t do this on their own.
2. Protection of human rights and equal opportunities for all, regardless of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. Please take note of the only one that’s a lifestyle choice.
3. Quality public education for all, along with sufficient resources. This includes wages for teachers that are commensurate with their responsibilities — preparing our children to become informed, productive world citizens. This should be a top priority, not an afterthought. Children need to be sufficiently educated in history, science, mathematics, literature, civics, the arts, and at least one foreign language in order to understand and compete successfully in a global economy and avoid mistakes of previous generations.
If you don’t want your tax dollars spent on other people’s children, remember that these are tomorrow’s productive citizens — job creators and tax payers. We not only have a moral obligation to pay; we have a personal (= financial) stake in doing so.
4. Stewardship of Earth’s natural wonders and resources; protection of the environment; preservation of historical, cultural, and religious sites. Here is where science education will help our children make the right decisions for extracting and using natural resources with minimal damage as well as creating renewable ones.
Remember also that the First Amendment’s mandate of religious freedom means that lands and sites considered sacred by some should be respected and protected by all.
Universal health care. This is a right, not a privilege, especially in a nation as wealthy and advanced as ours. Our health care may be “the best in the world,” but unlike every other industrialized nation, we have far less access, and this often includes our veterans, who deserve better. These other countries have higher living standards, higher life expectancy, and lower infant mortality than we do, and medical costs are much lower. We must also preserve women’s rights to make decisions about the most intimate functions of their own bodies, without interference from legislators who otherwise condemn “government overreach.”
One last note: The “freedom” not to buy insurance has consequences far beyond the personal. Those who plan to pay out-of-pocket for serious injuries or illnesses are delusional, but their refusal to participate also means higher insurance and medical expenses for all of us, costs that can be kept low only if everyone pays.
Leigh Washburn is a member of the Iron County Democrats.