Forget about the elephant and the donkey. Imagine instead a growling rottweiler and a houseful of scrappy cats.
Like most Democrats, I am proud of our willingness to think independently. But this has also become our Achilles' heel. We mostly go about our business and believe strongly in what we believe in, and acknowledge that others may have a different opinion, and we all have the right to live by our beliefs as long as they don't interfere with another's rights. We also tend not to go out of our way to fight for interest groups other than our own.
So we have ended up each of us on an island, fighting our own battles, while being outfunded and inevitably outvoted by a group that knows how to unite. No matter the anti-abortion faction, in the name of being "pro-life," stands by the gun lobby. And those who are absolutely rabid about cutting the deficit will wholeheartedly support spending whatever it takes to "protect our borders." Small business owners donate to politicians whose raison d'etre is channeling government money to big corporations. Here you see united the anti-government forces with those who try to pass laws against blacks (voter ID), the poor (Food Stamps), women (contraception and abortion), LGBT (gay marriage).
And among all those contradictions, they all stand firmly behind their brand: the GOP.
Meanwhile, corporations control our government while we scrabble to keep or win individual freedoms, each of us fighting our own battles.
Here in South Carolina, our Democratic politicians are afraid to speak of contraception, abortion, sex education. They throw around phrases like workers rights and job creation without ever uttering that foul and frightening word "union." Black voters are so aware of the deck being stacked against them that many don't vote; women pretend that their bodies are not being violated by laws that would force them to carry a pregnancy to term or deny access to contraception, as well as by the fact that the anti-abortion movement has pronounced their mission as sacred, declaring the rest of us to be sinners carrying the banner of satan.
We should be united. The abortion fight is about whether the government should have the power to decide a woman's medical decisions. The immigration battle is about whether the government has the right to stalk and detain those who "look different." The battle for LGBT rights is about the government choosing which citizens get individual rights and which don't. The voter ID fight is to keep those in power who will take away the freedoms of all of the above. As is the demonization and outlawing of unions.
Because we are not united, we are constantly being attacked, from all sides, and end up lost and demoralized.
We need to be unafraid not just to stand up for our own rights, but for all individual rights. The African American community needs to stand by women's right to reproductive privacy, and the the unions need to stand by the LGBT community, and their rights to the same liberties as us all. We all need to fight for the right to vote, because we are really all in this together.
This upcoming election season, we need to demand courage from our politicians. We need to demand that they support ALL of us, fearlessly. And we need our politicians to unite when they run for office, rather than continue to behave like a clutter of cats.
And we need to see our politicians stop being willing to sell us out, one constituency against another, or as they like to call it, "reaching across the aisle."
Let's start forming some coalitions, and working for each other as well as ourselves. If they don't vote for us here in SC, well, they probably weren't going to anyway. And at least we will be able to be proud to be Democrats.
And when we stand together and fearless, well, you never know what will happen.