Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

College Democrats

College Democrats

By Lauren Tabak

One would think that explaining why I am a Democrat would be a piece of cake. But this has not been an easy task.

Simply put, I am a Democrat because my background and my experiences allow me to more closely identify with the views of the Democratic Party. To help explain this, let me tell you a bit about myself.

My family, like virtually every American family, descends from immigrants who came to America in search of a better life. And they found it. I had the privilege of being raised in a suburban middle-class area. But, despite the overall “Pleasantville” atmosphere, I was always challenged by my parents to “be active” and “get involved.” Those were the buzzwords in my family. To this day, I can still hear my father telling me, “If you’re unhappy about something, do something to change it.”

And, like many American families, my parents would also tell my sister and me stories of my great-grandparents’ often-risky attempts at activism in Eastern Europe, along with tales of the risks they faced in leaving behind their family for Ellis Island in search of a better, freer life.

So what does all this have to do with being a Democrat? A lot.

Activism lies at the heart of the Democratic Party. Throughout history, the Democratic Party has worked consistently and tirelessly to provide – and preserve – the basic necessities and freedoms for the American people. In most instances, this has required unwavering activism.

As a member of Generation X and a student at Georgetown, I have found that both the inherent activism of the Democratic Party and the party’s specific views on the issues that matter most to our generation are more compatible with my views than are those espoused by the Republican Party. Consider equal opportunity in education and employment, as well as the government’s responsibility to provide for the general welfare.

Democrats throughout history have worked to implement and improve policies and programs that support both of these fundamental principles. As we know, the concept of equal opportunity for all originates in the Declaration of Independence, which states that “all men are created equal.” Working for equality among the American people has always been a cardinal precept of the Democrats. It is noteworthy that affirmative action first began during World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order banning discrimination on the basis of race in hiring in the federal government and in the wartime industries. This ban eventually led to the affirmative action policy we know today. Without this policy, Georgetown would probably not be the diverse, multicultural campus it has become.

Another important issue – and also one with deep Democratic roots – relates directly to students: financial aid. Under Democratic leadership, Pell grants and an array of student loans and scholarships have been created, expanded and maintained, thereby enabling thousands of students to attend the college of their choice.

We are all familiar with the excerpt from the Preamble to our Constitution that reads “to promote the general welfare.” This has been essential to the development of this country – and also has been a guiding philosophical principle at the core of the Democratic Party. In the view of Democrats, it is the responsibility of the American government to provide a “social safety net” and protect those unable to support themselves. Programs created under FDR’s New Deal such as Social Security and the minimum wage are all Democratic “institutions” that have proved not just desirable but essential to our society’s well-being. Additionally, such major safety-net programs as edicare and Medicaid have proven to be critically important components of our country’s health care system.

To be sure, I am not unaware of the widespread concerns about turning to the government to solve every ill of society or the attendant costs of major “government solutions.” At the same time, however, answers don’t always lie in private sector solutions or individual initiative, because the private sector has hardly earned a reputation for consistently addressing the greater good of society without prompting from the government. In addition, not everyone has the capacity – whether intellectual, physical or financial – to overcome, or sometimes, simply address in an effective manner their personal challenges, which can be considerable without the supportive hand of government.

For this reason, and the likelihood that our society will continue to face major challenges requiring the activism of government, I intend to stick to the ideals of the Democratic Party and, to paraphrase my parents’ longstanding admonition, to stay active and remain involved.

Lauren Tabak is a junior in the School of Foreign Service and president of the College Democrats.

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