Why Am I a Democrat?
By Melissa Melcher-Hosni
I could simply say the reason I am a Democrat is that I am a female US citizen living under an oppressive right-wing administration that has absolutely no respect for women in any way, shape, or form. That would be enough of an explanation, really. But I’ll expand a bit.
I am a member of Generation X. I grew up in a liberal household in Southern California. Our values were: Be kind to others. Respect others. Help others. Stand up for what you believe in. But we were not active politically.
During my early 20’s, I thought there was no point in voting – how could one person make a difference in the crazy political circus? Then came the 2008 election. I voted for the first time ever at age 32 – for Obama – and watched, with tears streaming down my face, as he claimed victory. I realized my children would never know a world where an African American had never been president of the United States of America. That feeling is one I will never forget.
Then came the mass shootings. A Colorado movie theater, an Oregon mall 15 minutes from where I lived, countless schools across the country, the streets of Santa Barbara where I used to walk to college classes, and concerts that I very well could have attended. I stood in a candlelight vigil at my 1st grader’s school to honor the victims of Sandy Hook – thankful it wasn’t his school, but scared to death that it could be someday.
When I reflect on my adult life, I can see several experiences that have helped shape my values. Though I didn’t make the connection at the time, it is now clear to me that politics matter in our daily lives:
· Reproductive Healthcare Rights: In college, I relied on Planned Parenthood services for my annual checkups and birth control. If this service had not existed, my healthcare and quality of life may have suffered.
· Social Programs: There was a time in my life when I relied on food stamps as a single mom. I’ve seen both sides of the coin – rags to riches! I know that anyone can fall on hard times at the flip of a switch, and the important purpose that our social safety net serves.
· Affordable Healthcare: Before my second pregnancy, I was told my (planned) pregnancy would be considered a pre-existing condition, and therefore would not be covered. Luckily, Obama’s Affordable Care Act was set to take effect just when my prenatal care would start to get expensive. Instead of paying $50,000 to have my baby, I paid my $5,000 max out of pocket. I don’t know how my family would’ve survived if not for the ACA.
· Protection of the Environment: I worked for an environmental non-profit, where I would go to elementary schools and educate the students about the dangers of polluting our environment. We read Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, we learned about alternative energy sources, and we hoped our collective small changes could make a big difference.
I am a new DG resident, and I am inspired by the passion and activism in our community. Last March, I walked in the March For Our Lives at DG North. We called B.S. on our current administration, we demanded Not One More, we listened to the inspiring students begging for change, and we met Sean Casten. Last month, I stood with my fellow Dems at the Protest Peter Roskam Outside Debate downtown. I chanted along: We’ll remember in November! Climate change is real! This is what democracy looks like!
I am a Democrat because my party holds the same values I was raised with and continue to hold. Be kind. Respect. Help. Stand up.