I’m the type of person (like many Democrats, I assume) who worries about injustice a lot. Who gets anxious, stressed, and fatigued just reading about and thinking about bad stuff that’s going on in my community, my state, my country, and in the world. And while I don’t think Democrats have a monopoly on caring, the idea that the everyone else’s welfare is inextricably entwined with our own is a central part of the Democratic platform, while the Republican platform is built upon looking out for the self first.
In fact, the differences are apparent as soon as you compare the 2016 Platform Preambles of the two parties. The Democrats begin this way:
“In 2016, Democrats meet in Philadelphia with the same basic belief that animated the Continental Congress when they gathered here 240 years ago: Out of many, we are one.” It is a theme that binds us together. Out of many, one. Stronger together. The welfare of one is bound up in the welfare of all. It does not seek to erase our differences, but to highlight the fact that we rely on one another, that our successes and failures are forever entwined.
The Republicans, this way:
“We believe in American exceptionalism. We believe the United States of America is unlike any other nation on earth.” America, and Americans, are different from everyone else, they claim. By virtue only of the fact that we are Americans, we are better. It is a concept that immediately creates division, separation, distinction. All men are created equal, but some a little more than others, according to that view.
While the differences between the two platforms are fascinating (the Democratic one, unsurprisingly, focusing on improvements that could be made to increase fairness and prosperity, the Republican one mongering fear over ostensible threats to America), the Republican one consistently creates a sense of “us” (Americans! Republicans!) and “them” (people who want to take our stuff!), while the Democratic one consistently draws no such divisions, and talks about “everyone.”
All this digression is simply to say this: that Democrats, and especially the more politically-engaged we become, care hard about more than just the things that affect us directly, and unlimited caring is wearying. So wearying, in fact, that sometimes we forget that caring, no matter how hard or fatiguing, isn’t worth anything if we don’t act on that care.
So what have you cared about lately? Natural disasters? Healthcare? Dreamers? All of these and many, many more? Fantastic! I am right with you there. But let’s not congratulate ourselves and move on; let’s take a moment to make all that worry worth something. Let’s take a finite action or three.
Let’s donate to hurricane relief efforts.
Let’s work toward universal healthcare (in Washington and federally).
Let’s unite against Trump’s action on DACA.
Let’s fight the ban on Trans people in the military.
Let’s have honest conversations with ourselves and each other about racism in America (and in our communities).
Let’s work to elect state legislators who share our values, who propose solutions that take the future and the welfare of all, instead of only the exceptionally rich and privileged, into consideration.
Working to create a more equitable community, state, and nation doesn’t necessarily have to be more fatiguing than caring without working on solutions, but it’s certainly worth a lot more. Because taking political action is caring, but with the added benefit that things can actually improve.