The future started yesterday
By Jolene Pohl
I became an official Democrat in 2003 when the U.S. decided to start a war with Iraq. I no longer wanted to be considered Independent because I definitely had a stance against the Republican Party. I wanted Republicans to know their fear and lies agenda was not OK with me. The results of the irresponsible actions by GOP leaders are now being felt by all Americans as they struggle in a weakened economy. The Democrats have had to step up to pull the political values of the country back to a center, which includes a strong voice of all Americans.
Today, the GOP distractions such as increasing marriage inequality instead of strengthening education and job production are unfortunately a reality the Democrats must counteract. The key to remaining a strong Democrat is to not be dragged down into the Republican muck for too long. President Barack H. Obama has been an extraordinary example for the party to follow. He refuses to give in to the childish behavior of the Republican leaders in Congress when they do nothing but obstruct legislation. He knows when to call their bluff. Compromise, although painful, is the only way to maintain popular support and prevent absolute gridlock on the Hill. Democratic Party supporters are learning this the hard way and many have had to swallow their pride for the past three years.
The political punditry has not focused on a discussion about the congressional success of fulfilling the president’s promise from 2008. President Obama said he would change the way politics worked in Washington and has done so in more ways than one — from ending both wars to enacting the American Jobs Act — which provides funding for jobs programs for our returning war veterans. Unfortunately, the current economic decline was a main propellant in the success of last year’s Health Care Reform, which ensures children and the sick have insurance. The Democrats made a deal that directly benefits the American people who have been frustrated by rising premiums. Although reform has not come swiftly or broad enough for some naysayers, the overall public attitude about protecting struggling Americans has changed since the early ‘90s, especially in the debate about health care. This is the progress the Democratic Party has brought to our nation.
Prior to Obama’s win, a disillusioned public were helpless at the hands of GOP leaders who overrode congressional decisions in favor of their own political and personal gain. Obama asked his campaign supporters to hold him accountable as president and make him take action on issues that are important to us. Student volunteers who saw their actions make a difference on a national level are now part of the Occupy movement which is doing just as the president requested: holding him and Congress accountable.
This is the difference between Republicans and Democrats. The Democratic Party is not afraid of its own members. The stronger the voice of each member, the more the party benefits. Despite the tension created among different party factions, the solutions to social ills are born out of discussion and the ideals are well established. Maintaining diversity is essential to the Democratic Party. The Democrats embrace individual freedom despite what the other side may say. Protecting the right to remain a strong individual in a diverse world by living up to your full potential is the goal of my fellow Democrats. Everyone should have a fair chance to be heard no matter their circumstance. There is no better example than President Obama who was born into an average income American family but has forever changed the way campaigns and presidencies are led. I am proud to say I helped bring this change about.
In the past decade, Americans have begun to find a way towards establishing a fair global system. Their frustration is fading because they feel empowered by the crucial role they play in politics. Washington politics has not been fun for so long because losing a fight on the Hill meant sending more people to die in war, the destruction of more land and water, that education funding was going to be cut while military contracts were strengthened or that more people would be stranded and left to die during natural disasters. But being a Democrat now is fun. We have real opportunities to lead a new generation into an age of compromise with compassion. The generation that was silenced for a decade has found their voice and despite tear gas and pepper spray, they will not go away. The Democratic Party has some of the most influential leaders of my lifetime in positions of power to make great strides.
Leaders must embrace the tide of public discontent as an opportunity, not a tidal wave.
The Democratic Party is not a “liberal phase” of the youth as some conservatives hope or suggest. The party has become a soapbox for the average American who has every right to be upset with the current political climate. The scrutiny from the Occupy movement the party faces must not be overlooked by its leaders. The movement is serious about the change it seeks and this is a lesson each party must learn.
The key for Democrats this year is defining themselves as distinct from the past. The new leaders must declare their dedication against fear and control as well as put those declarations into real legislative action. The public is out of time to wait for promises to be kept.
Jolene Pohl is a dedicated Dayton democrat volunteer/activist and a WSU grad student. Her favorite past-times include banter, debate and laughing out loud. She can be reached at JolenePohl@DaytonCityPaper.com.