David Brock, in the Foreword to Why I'm a Democrat, writes that "Politics is a journey for all of us." In this book, editor Susan Mulcahy has collected the brief thoughts of fifty-five political travelers whose journeys all brought them, in one way or another, to the Democratic Party. If you are a Democrat, you will probably find your own story in someone's story here. If you are not a Democrat, you will gain some insight into why other people choose to be one.
Mulcahy's book consists of short essays, written by Democrats both famous and not famous, as well as interviews she has conducted with Democrats, and several drawings people used to describe why they are Democrats. If you can make sense of the drawings, please contact me, because I certainly cannot!
This is a little book, not meant to define the Democratic Party or give its history. The Democrats who share their thoughts here are sometimes quite specific about what the party means to them. At other times, they are attempting to describe the intangible feeling that they get from being a Democrat. One of my favorite descriptions comes from the clever and funny writer/director Nora Ephron, who declares, "I am deeply in love with some abstract concept called FDR."
There are some statements that could be construed as Republican-bashing, but that is certainly not the purpose of the book. Mulcahy divides her participants into groups, such as lifelong Democrats, ex-Republican Democrats, and people who are Democrats because of the party's stand on particular issues. Therefore, some anti-Republican sentiments are present in some responses, but many people answer the question "Why are you a Democrat?" with nothing but positivity and pride.
They talk about the Democratic Party as the one that helps people, that tries to do good things for humankind, that supports the American dream, that believes we all do better when we're all taken care of. They call it the party of kindness, humility, selflessness, negotiation, and dedication to the Constitution.
Craig Lesley, a novelist, sums it up beautifully in his essay, when he claims that the policies of the Democratic Party hold "the best hopes for the working class, the minority, the marginalized, the sick, the mentally ill."
Why Iím a Democrat is easy to read, and you can open it to any page if you care to read just an essay at a time. It is the kind of book that leaves you feeling uplifted, if you agree with what the political travelers are saying. If you do not agree, it is the kind of book that will introduce you to a set of people who think a little differently than you do.
One last good reason to buy this book: a portion of the sales go to Operation Assist, which provides medical help to Hurricane Katrina families. That sounds like something a Democrat would think was a good idea.