Confessions of a Catholic Democrat

Confessions of a Catholic Democrat

Hear me out.
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I am a practicing Catholic and member of the Democratic Party.

Yes, I totally recognize this probably comes off as a complete contradiction. Nothing about being a Democrat and a Catholic seems to go together on the surface. The Democratic agenda supports things like abortion and a woman's right to choose, the death penalty, LGBT rights, and many other issues that the Catholic Church is very much against. These, of course, are only a few of the many issues that the American Democratic Party and Catholic Church express opinions, but they are very relevant and important examples that illustrate the discord between many Christian churches and progressive America today.

America seems to be becoming more and more progressive on the whole as recent years pass. Just over a year ago, gay marriage become legal. The government and private organizations are trying to figure out how to recognize and treat people who are transgender or do not fully identify with the sex they were born with. Within the next year, it is possible the United States could have its first female president. Many Americans are clearly pushing the times forward. However, a great percentage of Americans who are not so keen on this overall phenomena are Christians, including Catholics. They feel that the push for more liberal ideas is threatening to their religious rights and the way the world should be.

The changes happening in our country at the moment clearly are very dividing and certainly no black and white issue. However, I hope that I can explain a bit how I, as a Catholic and a Democrat, work out some of these issues so that they make sense. At least to me.

The type of Christianity I was raised with was one of acceptance and love. I was taught by my parents and at mass about seeing Christ in everyone. I firmly believe, from what I learned at mass, through my parents, and in nearly 17 years of Catholic school, that we are created in the image and likeness of God. God loves each person equally no matter what because we are all his children and creation. No matter how imperfect we are, he still loves us when we turn to him when we struggle.

My support of the issue of gay marriage, and really gay rights as a whole, can be used to show how my thought process works. If God creates people in his image and likeness and loves us, I firmly believe that means he creates people as straight or gay. I know not everyone agrees with me about this. That is okay, but it is what I believe. I also support gay marriage because I believe God wants us to be happy and live life to the fullest in the way in which he created us. God creates humans who are attracted to the same sex, but he does not do this to curse them or try to put them in a situation of sin. God loves us all equally no matter what, and I do not think it is right to prevent someone from finding a happiness in life that others have simply because they were created a certain way.

I may not have sounded very Catholic there. So, I hope that the fact that I am pro-life can maybe rebuild a bit of my credibility there. I absolutely am disgusted by abortion. I think the death penalty devalues human life and encourages a culture of violence in the US. I think just in general modern culture does not try to recognize the beautiful of life that God has given us. However, I think it is wrong to limit people to live a full life where they are loved and accepted and not cast out by society. Jesus embraced the outsider. He worked and lived with people who were seen by his society as sinners and dirty.

I have found that this way of embracing others and trying to help others is embraced for the most part by the Democratic Party. Welfare, as it currently stands, is flawed. I will admit that. I do not think it is a bad thing, but the way it works now is not good for various reasons. However, the intent to help the needy and the poor is why I align with and support the Democratic Party. I do think the government has the responsibility to help the poor. I do not understand how, when you think about the reasoning behind many Democratic policies, it is impossible to be both a Catholic and a Democrat.

I think the reason that many people have an issue with the whole idea of being a Catholic Democrat is the fact that we often think a person has to exclusively align themselves with one group completely and all its ideologies. Yes, I am a Democrat, but do I agree 100% with what the party says? Absolutely not. The same goes for what the Catholic Church teaches. I do often feel guiltier for not being completely aligned with Catholicism than Democrats, but at the same time, there are things the Catholic Church teaches that would make me feel really yucky (best word I could think of) if I said I believed them. I cannot say I think gay marriage is wrong because I genuinely believe and think it is not for the reasons I have said. It is justified to me.

I do not know if I am right. I doubt myself pretty much every second of the day, but I am firm in what I believe because it is what allows me to see the world in a good light. No one has all the answers, and if you think you do, you are a fool. We just have to navigate through life the best we can and not put everyone into these stupid boxes. I am outside the Democrat and Catholic box, but I identify with them because they are the best things I can find now to believe in and try to find my way with. I am just Laura. I am not in either of these boxes, but I wish people would stop trying to toss me in them.

Cover Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/45/U.S._Democratic_Party_logo_(transparent).svg/2000px-U.S._Democratic_Party_logo_(transparent).svg.png

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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To Fix Taxes, We Have To Rethink 'Wealthy'

"Wealthy" doesn't mean the same for everyone.

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When discussing taxes today, so many politicians are quick to rush to the adage "tax the rich." Bernie Sanders has called for the rich to be taxed higher to pay for Medicare for All. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for a 70% tax on the wealthy.

However, all of these proposals are missing a key thing: a true definition of rich.

When thinking about what counts as rich, it is important to distinguish between the "working wealthy" and the "investment wealthy."

The working wealthy are the people in society that get paid highly because they have a high skill set and provide an extremely valuable service that they deserve just compensation for. This class is made up of professionals like lawyers, doctors, and CEOs. In addition, the working wealthy are characterized by another crucial aspect: over a long term calculation of their earned income over time, they don't come out as prosperous as their annual incomes would seem to suggest. This is because this set of the wealthy has to plunge into student debt for degrees that take years to acquire. These jobs generally also require a huge amount of time invested in lower-paying positions, apprenticeships, and internships before the big-money starts coming in.

On the other hand, the investment wealthy is completely different. These are the people that merely sit back and manipulate money without truly contributing to anything in society. A vast majority of this class is born into money and they use investments into stocks and bonds as well as tax loopholes to generate their money without actually contributing much to society as a whole.

What makes the investment wealthy so different from the working wealthy is their ability to use manipulative techniques to avoid paying taxes. While the working wealthy are rich, they do not have AS many resources or connections to manipulate tax laws the way that the investment wealthy can. The investment wealthy has access to overseas banking accounts to wash money though. The investment wealthy can afford lawyers to comb over tax laws and find loopholes for ridiculous prices. This is tax evasion that the working wealthy simply does not have access to.

That is why it is so incredibly important to make sure that we distinguish between the two when discussing tax policy. When we use blanket statements like "tax the rich," we forget the real reasons that the investment wealthy are able to pay such low taxes now. Imposing a larger marginal tax rate will only give them more incentive to move around taxes while squeezing the working wealthy even more.

Because of this, in our taxation discourse, we need to focus first on making sure people pay their taxes, to begin with. Things like a tax of Wall Street speculation, capital gains taxes, a closing of loopholes, and a simplification of the tax code. These things will have a marked improvement in making sure that the investment wealthy actually pays the taxes we already expect of them now. If we stick to the same message, the only thing we will be changing is the rate that the uber-wealthy are avoiding.

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