My Turn: Defending the Democratic Party

I would like to respond to Dave Chrisman’s letter published in last Sunday’s paper about the Democratic Party losing its way. Reading the headline, I thought I would be in agreement with him because my party has fallen short. I would have loved a more progressive candidate for president — a woman! It didn’t take tong to see that our reasons for being critical of the Democratic Party are quite different.

First of all, the fact that he attributes his complaints to the party is problematic. It would only be credible if there was evidence such as a candidate or party platform or even any action found in the news that proved his claims. He is naming his fears and projecting them onto the Democrats, without any factual base. He fears illegal immigration, antifa, and the government taking his guns away. It is easy to see how a man who supports Trump would think this way. Trump himself has planted those seeds. Cultivating fear of the group who can take your power away is a common tactic in fascist regimes and in propaganda.

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The Democratic party is not against entrepreneurs or capitalism. Framing his ideas this way, lauding capitalism, reveals his fear of socialism. Democrats love entrepreneurs too. However, we are in favor of government intervening for the good of the people when it needs to. For example, seatbelts and airbags, considered to have saved countless lives, needed to be made mandatory. The fear messaging in this administration has been that government regulation represents socialism and the Democrats are the harbingers of that. Trump is the deregulator-in-chief, which makes him a champion in the fight against socialism.

Mr. Chrisman asks for examples of anything benefiting the world that has come from socialism. Rather than fixate on fear labels such as socialism, I hope he will accept more examples of government intervention for the social good. A lot of things that we take for granted did not come from capitalism, they came from people, particularly unions, demanding rights. Left to the market and to what is good for capital, we wouldn’t have worker’s rights, minimum wage, and safety standards. We would have child labor and sweat shops as we see in other countries. We have Social Security because of the need to have a safety net for the elderly and children who have lost a parent. That didn’t come from capitalism. Thank goodness we don’t depend on capitalism for the police, fire department, roads, or schools. They would only be in places where they could be paid for by capital. There is still much work to be done to improve the quality of life for people in our communities. Democrats typically focus on this work. It’s why I still belong to the Democratic party.

We don’t hate America. We may be deeply disappointed and sometimes ashamed, because we don’t turn a blind eye to problems. We are thankful to be citizens in a country which claims “justice for all” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For all. We work for that. That is not hate, that is hope, that is what is truly American.

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This election is critical and there are real fears, such as the fear of a deteriorating environment, fear of assault weapons in the hands of mentally ill angry men, fear of destroying international relations, fear of loss of a free press, fear of a government who would turn its military against its own citizens. How do we know which of our fears are substantiated and which are planted by an administration trying to hold on to power? Ask: Who and what are you trying to protect? I am trying to protect the planet, innocent victims of gun violence, diplomacy, a free press, free speech, the right to protest, fair elections. My fears will motivate me to vote to alleviate these threats and attempt to fix the problems.

Diane Aoki is a resident of Kealakekua