Knowing What Unites Us

February 15, 2010

I’ve always known I was a Democrat.  At least, I think I’ve always known.  Perhaps (and by perhaps I mean most definitely) I was influenced by my parents liberal bias but I truly feel as if I have fleshed out my own beliefs since I’ve acquired a mind of my own (which my mother would insist was when I was 3 and refused to wear anything but Daisy Duck Diapers).  I’ve always considered myself a Democrat because at the heart of my political policy is that all Americans, all human beings, in fact, don’t actually begin on an equal playing field.  And for this reason, it is important for there to be a collective body of universally agreed upon laws and adopted social programs to aid in the betterment of our community and the establishment of equal opportunity for all individuals.  It wasn’t until this week that I began to question this view.

Let me first say, that I still absolutely believe in this premise and I still very strongly feel that I am a Democrat.  But after actually experiencing government first hand over the past 2 weeks I’ve begun to ask some different questions.

Each day I field upwards of 100 calls- some from other Representatives offices, many from our District Office, but most from Constituents calling to express their beliefs.  And, as I’m taught, I log these calls and send the messages off to their respective Legislative Correspondent to be addressed.  What has boggled my mind as I’ve jotted down these messages is the diversity of strong opinion for and against almost every issue.  In one second I can be talking to an elderly woman from a rural area who so strongly believes in the Representative’s promotion of the public option that she’s willing to send whatever she has left of her life savings to support it while 30 seconds later a young man from the city will call convinced the Congresswoman is trying to deprive him of his own free will and choice in a quest to spread socialism—and, in all honesty, which is right? And who am I to tell them?

I really thought I knew how I felt before moving to D.C. And in some ways I feel more strongly than ever about my political stance and moral belief system.  But in an entirely different way I feel as if moving to D.C. and experiencing the day to day happenings of our federal government has thrown my politics into a tail spin.  I suppose it’s harder to pass judgment once you’ve been confronted with the day to day realities of a profession.  The questions are all different now.  It’s harder to be one dimensional when a formidable opponent is presenting an emotional, alternative argument.  But in the end, I think I’ll be better for it.  More informed, more level-headed and more open-minded.

About 6 years ago my Uncle Jimmy wrote the following for his twice daily column for the Dow Jones (unintentionally applicable to the snowy days ahead):

A Kind Of Hush, All Over The World

Outside the Harborside Financial Center early this morning, it was snowing heavily.

Whenever it snows heavily, I think of the beautiful lines James Joyce wrote at the conclusion of his short story “The Dead.”

Snow as metaphor for what unites us all.

“It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight … Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling fairly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”

All I can remind myself is that we are all united somehow, and no matter how confusing it may be, after a while I just have to tell myself that we’re all in it to help each other.  That, in the end, all that matters is that we tried– and that we tried for not only our sake’s but everyone’s.

-Molly M., Star Fellow Spring 2010

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