Republican and Democratic friends often explain their political allegiance by stressing that their “values” are mirrored in their respective political parties. I prefer to avoid reliance on subjective values as justification for party allegiance and instead cut straight to the logic for a Democratic Party that advances our individual agency, our community and our commons.
Individual Agency: It should be apparent that in our complex society the “pursuit of happiness,” suggested by the Declaration of Independence, requires achievement of individual “agency” or sufficient educational, social and economic capacity for self-reliance. Development of an individual’s agency begins at birth. Democrats urge funding of early childhood education, kindergarten, elementary, secondary and technical or higher education to ensure attainment of universal intellectual agency by adulthood (Hillary Clinton’s presidential agenda). Major gaps exist in the Idaho Republican platform for development of individual agency — opposition to early childhood education and dysfunctional financing of public education, etc.
The Community: We exist as individuals in communities ranging in size from small villages to the global community of nations. Communities all achieve their greatest success when economic development, educational resources, recreational, cultural and entertainment opportunities, and social and health services all continuously pursue a state-of-the-art status. (Democrats focus on resolving community dysfunction through education and research, transcending a liberal or conservative agenda.) Forgetting compassion, can anyone doubt the total illogic of Idaho perpetuating an unhealthy community of 78,000 by failing to expand Medicaid? State Sen. Patti Anne Lodge’s, R-Huston, irrational proposal to let them work harder to pay for private insurance actually translates to let them live sicker and die younger at unnecessary state cost. Simple logic indicates that because this population has failed to attain or has lost individual agency in terms of its economic success the community must serve as its health care backstop.
The Commons: We share joint ownership of the “commons:” historically our water, public lands, air, radio spectrum, public rights of way, etc. Democrats follow the logic that destruction, abuse, overconsumption and underregulation of the commons on our small planet can mean pollution, climate change, abandonment of public lands, loss of agricultural and food resources, earthquakes, and a generally unhappy situation. Reversing the effects of critical mistakes in “commons” management can often be virtually impossible. Democrats focus on the need for universal understanding of the concept of the commons and the role of individuals in its continuous, creative management.
Our timeline is actually quite short for producing individual agency, building strong communities, and creatively managing the commons. Babies show early social skills by smiling, children read and master abstract concepts before six, and by eight they have a rudimentary understanding of their responsibilities as citizens of the community and as stewards of their earth. At 18 they vote as members of the country’s board of directors. Bereft of Democratic Party logic, facing the post-truth Trump, they may vote for a “huge” feudal wall, thereby blocking an understanding of their responsibility for individual agency, the community and the commons.
Eldon Wallace retired as associate commissioner of finance from the Missouri Department of Higher Education. He ran as an Idaho Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010.