Latino men are said to be gravitating toward the Republican Party because they believe in personal responsibility. Evidently they believe that liberal Democrats don’t share this belief. If so, they are dead wrong. I choose to be a liberal Democrat. I choose emphatically not to be a conservative Republican. I emphatically embrace a personal philosophy that is centered on individual personal responsibility: striving to reach our full potential by developing and using all the resources entrusted to our care. Using our God-given talents, our own minds, our own judgment, our own willpower, self-motivation and self-discipline, to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves.
This isn’t an aside. This is the heart and soul of liberal democracy that cannot survive unless its citizens practice personal responsibility, unless they do their part to keep it alive through their active participation. Liberal Democrats are the heart and soul of liberal democracy that affords us the freedom to do our part. Take away liberal Democrats and see what happens to democracy. They believe with all their heart that personal responsibility, empowered by free will, by freedom of choice, is the driving force behind our democracy and they fight every day to preserve it.
But they also recognize that the practice of personal responsibility has its limits. Even those most dedicated to striving, to doing for themselves, come up against adversity that exceeds their capacity. Everyone at some point needs help. Helping those who strive on their own but still need help isn’t the only function of government, but it’s certainly one of its functions. Though you may have been told otherwise it’s a legitimate function. It’s enshrined in the US Constitution and in every state constitution with every mention of the “public welfare.” If there was ever any doubt the liberal Democratic administration of Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression should have put it to rest.
Liberal Democrats who live and die by personal responsibility believe fervently that when government can help in times of adversity it should help. Conservative Republicans who preach personal responsibility are just as fervent that government should only help when their donor corporations screw up and need to be bailed out. Otherwise, their only interest in the “public welfare” is to shove the “public” – you and me – out of the way so they can take and do whatever they want. This is what they mean by “liberty:” getting rid of the rule of law that protects it.
After four years of Republican rule, it should no longer be a mystery what they want: to rule without opposition. To crush dissent. While they’ve been trying to rip out the Affordable Care Act “root and branch” they’re even busier ripping out democracy root and branch. They aim not to empower democracy with their authoritarian ways but to destroy it. They don’t want government to help strivers, they want government to get our of their way. Their idea of “personal responsibility” isn’t to honor it with their support, to help hard workers succeed. It’s to let them fail.
Anyone attracted to the Republican Party because they stand for personal responsibility has been deceived by Republican lies. By the lie that strivers never need help and when they do only big Republican donor corporations who screw up are entitled to it. Conservative Republicans today have become a caricature of the principles they once shared with liberal Democrats. They no longer share anything. They just want power – winning at any cost. For you and me? Not a chance! For themselves.
What does this make me? A survivor of conservative Republican lies -- hopefully not a vanishing breed. An individual striving on his own to do his best with as little help as possible. But also a member of a community that shares and empowers one another when help is needed.
So who would that be? What I’m proud to be. What I invite everyone who loves their country to be. What I invite you to be: a liberal Democrat.