I have been a registered Democrat since I was eighteen, even when the country around me was making “liberal” a dirty word. (It’s not.) I started out pretty close to the center, but as the country has drifted right, and I’ve experienced the world around me, I’ve drifted farther and farther left.
My political beliefs have been largely shaped by my religious beliefs, with life experience added on top. The first thing I think whenever politics, especially finances, comes up is a passage from the New Testament, Matthew 25:31-46, the parable of the sheep and the goats. I will admit that I always hear it in Keith Green’s voice. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, he was a Christian singer who died in a plane crash in 1982, and he did a powerful reading of the passage that I first heard in college sometime between 1982 and 1985. I have never been able, or wanted, to shake the power of that reading and it has influenced my politics ever since.
In addition, there are multiple passages in the prophets of the Old Testament (Amos sticks especially in my mind) in which they rail against Israel because of how they (mis)treat the poor, the widows, the orphans, and how they are unjust. I can’t remember exact passages, but I do remember the idea continuing like a drum beat. Between these passages and the one from Matthew, I have believed that being a good person means taking care of those less fortunate than you.
I have been blessed with good fortune in my life. I have also been sheltered from much of the poverty and dangers of this world. I’m also timid and shy, so I’ve never ventured out to help those in need personally. But I do believe that we are supposed to do so, and the economy of scale means that I will vote for those politicians who agree that we, as a wealthy nation, should do so as a nation.
However, that doesn’t mean that I believe that the government should force anyone to have, or pretend to have, the same religious beliefs that I do. My political beliefs may have been formed by my religious beliefs, but I still believe that a person’s religion is between them and their God/dess. (Those same prophets who influenced my political beliefs would have a few things to say about Her!)
To put it simply and bluntly, I am a Democratic Socialist who believes in diversity, civility and, otherwise, to let people live freely according to the laws of our country. These ideals don’t always play nicely with each other, but I believe it is the best way to try live up to our potential as a nation.