April 19, 2007

A Young Democrat Speaks

Last night I had the pleasure of hearing Jesse Riehm, a Churchill County Young Dem, speak at the Churchill County Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. His topic was, "Why I am a Democrat." After he sat down I scurried over to his table and asked him if he could send me a copy of the speech so I could share it with all of you. Jesse has quite the impressive bio as well. From his email to me:

I am currently a senior at Churchill County High School. I will most definitely be graduating with an Honors school diploma and as a Co-Valedictorian. I am formerly a member of the CCHS Debate team where I was a policy debate captain. Besides the Young Democrats, I currently participate in the Honors Society and I tutor when I can. I will be attending either Colorado College, Willamette University, or UNR in the Honors School as a Presidential Scholar next year.
HIs speech as emailed to me:
My cousin recently asked me why exactly am I a democrat. Of course, I have many answers, as I am sure most of you do. But it is much more than merely being affiliated with the party of great leaders such as Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and most great 20th century presidents. It is more than being able to claim the creeds of President Abraham Lincoln and other great proponents of egalitarianism, more than being in the party of ideals such as separation of church and state that advocate the greatest possible liberty. My major reason lies in a certain underlying principle that I believe the Democratic Party is built upon. This is the concept of acceptance.

The Democratic Party is unique in its advocacy of acceptance. While I personally have heard few politicians, democrats or otherwise, explicitly campaign on acceptance, I believe that many of the ideals of our party are at their base acceptance. By this I do not mean “complacency,” as I have heard indicted by people who do not practice our doctrine. I mean not judging our fellow humans based on any external values, such as origin, language, unrequited lifestyle or any number of common foundations for judgment. This means that we, as a party, will support and help others through their most difficult times. We do not assign ourselves to an archaic sense of survival of the fittest that has long been ruled out by political philosophers and by the natural phenomenon of government. This is why the Democratic Party is the party that fathered such great programs as Social Security and Medicare, and why we are currently the party that fights for the rights of members of the GLBT community and the right of choice on abortion and even why we accept those of contrary views on these controversial subjects into the folds of our party. We are willing to accept the weaknesses of others or appreciate their unique traits and to offer them social programs in order to supplement their strengths rather than just rejecting them as unable or unnatural and letting them wither.

We should all be very proud of the progress that America has made in the path towards a universal acceptance. While few people will doubt that there are still pockets of prejudice left in our country, the nation as a whole has become much more accepting. We have gone from being the last civilized nation to maintain the wretched institution of slavery to engaging in civil discourse on how to overcome the remnants of racism. We have gone from women being pushed aside and domesticated to women filling up a majority of America’s universities and colleges. This comes from a growing acceptance among the citizenry for one another, and without whatever catalysts that have perpetuated such social movements then America would merely be a nation of bigots, a nation of strict classes where no advancement is feasible. We still have a long ways to go to overcome these abominations, and it is in the Democratic Party that most of these agents for change currently reside.

I stated earlier that it is not “complacency” because nothing could be more false. As a party we should be and are willing to fight for the rights of others, and in situations of personal right or liberty where no compromise is acceptable, we should accept no compromise. The doctrine I have stated is a loaded one. It means stridently protecting the weak from the strong, protecting against invasions on the personal liberties that we are all guaranteed in the constitution of these United States, such as the freedoms of religion and expression, equality, and liberty. And this is by no means complacency. This is true patriotism, and it is what our great party embodies.
Jesse is the kind of kid every parent would be proud to claim as their own. I'm glad he's in our Party.


Desert Beacon said...

Wow! Excellent speech, and very insightful.

Not Your Mama said...

Just when I'm about to give up on humans along comes some young person like this. Fabulous.