Life Isn't Fair. Democracy Should Be.
by John McCreery
I've been thinking about what it means to be a Democrat, looking for a
slogan that not only captures the essence of what it is to be a
Democrat but also appeals to a value that most Americans share. To me
there is something very simple and powerful about these words, "Life
isn't fair. Democracy should be."
Few, if any of us would assert that life is fair. Some are born rich,
some are born poor; some are born beautiful, some are not. Some are
great athletes, artists, scientists, or financiers. Most of us have to
make do with something less than extraordinary talent.
But if life isn't fair, we as a democratic nation can be, and we
Democrats think that's important.
We don't think it's fair to say, "Leave no child behind" and leave
thousands of children in lousy schools, with lousy health care, and
lousy chances of finding more than a dead-end job.
We don't think it's fair to say, "Equal opportunity" and say "Not for
you" to people whose religion, race or gender are different from our
We don't think it's fair at all to measure equality in dollars instead
of human lives, so that those with more dollars turn out to be more
equal than others in our courts and legislatures.
Is everybody going to be equal? No. Nature sees to that. But we human
beings have a wonderful ability to look beyond natural inequalities to
a fundamental value that we call the human individual, and to lend a
helping hand to those less blessed than ourselves. So it's only fair,
we Democrats believe, for those more blessed to give back more to
We know there are those who disagree. They see themselves as chosen for
heaven, even if the rest of us are damned. If we say you owe a bit more
in taxes, they will say, "Oh no, it's mine, mine, mine." Their ethics
are those of the jungle: might makes right and success justifies greed.
With their eyes on the next quarterly report, they couldn't give a damn
what happens to the planet. What's fair to later generations-that's not
an issue for them.
If that's where your head and your heart are, you are clearly not one
of us, the friends I am proud to call, "My fellow Democrats."
John McCreery is Chair of Democrats Abroad Japan. He may be reached at: