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Richard Virgin

In Robert Mooth’s recent guest editorial, “Democrats are political opportunists" (Sept. 1 Herald & Review), he blames the Democratic party for racist aspects of our history. He also accuses Democrats of grasping for political advantage with proposals that I find imaginative.

He blames Democrats for the passage of racist laws that are indeed a shameful part of our history. Many of those laws were enacted by Congresses around 1840, comprised of 15 southern and border states, and 10 northern states. He is correct in saying that Democrats bear some responsibility for these laws being passed. Republicans get a pass here as their party had not yet come into existence.

He blames Southern Jim Crow laws on Democrats, which is technically true. These Southern Democrats carried the moniker “Dixiecrats” as they were conservative and often voted with Republicans. When Democrats got behind Civil Rights legislation in the mid 1960s, the Dixiecrats bolted and officially became Republicans. The Dixiecrats enacted many Jim Crow laws. Mooth neglects to mention that Republicans in numerous states have recently been successful in restricting the voting rights of African-Americans.

Mooth implies Democrats have been dictating polices unilaterally and are planning a number of fiscal and immigration policies that I have never heard expressed by any Democrats, only from right-wing radio talk show hosts. He seems to have ignored that Republicans held a Supreme Court vacancy open for over a year and took a pledge not to support any legislation proposed by President Obama during his entire eight years in office. Sounds unilateral to me.

He continues to claim that Democrats want totally open borders and recently used a portion of a statement from one freshman U.S. House member as proof.

1) Mooth states that our country provided a united front against England in gaining our independence. He may not realize that historians believe that almost half the population of the American colonies did not support the American Revolution. But I totally agree with and support his wish that our country needs to come together more.

2) He claims Democrats are portraying whites as being racist. Not accurate. Enlightened Americans have come to realize that regardless of race, all people grow up with some aspects of racism in our outlook, perceptions and behaviors. And many white people are beginning to understand how much we benefit from white privilege.

3) And finally, he waves the specter of socialism as if Democrats want to change our government into something akin to a fascist state. The only fascist sounding behaviors in the U.S. that I am aware of are those emanating from the White House in the last 2 ½ years.

There has been legislation enacted in our recent past that might be described as socialistic permutations of democracy. Probably the biggest one is Social Security. Prior to its establishment, people who lost their jobs had no safety net other than their savings to help them put food on the table. Older people, except the quite wealthy, worked until they died. They couldn’t afford to retire. Social Security was designed to assure that none of our citizens had to endure those hardships.

How about Medicare? That’s another program that falls into this category. I get Medicare. Lots of my peers do. Thank goodness we don’t have to go out and buy our medical insurance. Medicaid. Obamacare. These programs protect all of us but they especially protect the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and people with preexisting medical conditions. Should we do away with these because they are not consistent with “everybody-needs-to take-care-of-themselves” thinking?

Yes, some Democrats are talking about Medicare for all. Most are talking about improvements on Medicare and Obamacare. But have you noticed how Congressional Republicans are no longer trying to repeal Obamacare? They’ve heard from many citizens, including a lot of Republican constituents telling them to stop trying to repeal it. They are benefiting from Obamacare and do not want it withdrawn.

I will agree with one of Mooth's premises. He says Democrats are political opportunists. I agree with this. Show me any politician who isn’t a political opportunist.

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Richard Virgin is a retired educator living in Decatur.

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