Las Vegas Sun

September 19, 2019

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Guest column: Why I am a Democrat

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Artie Blanco

Since the last election, it seems Democrats have been facing the same questions: “Who am I? Why am I here?”

There have been constructive moments over the past 10 months, but we have also seen actors who seem more intent on building themselves up by tearing the party down than actually bringing us together. Over the year, this internal strife has taken away from our ability to act in one voice against President Donald Trump’s destructive agenda.

And it needs to stop.

The Democratic Party is not about one candidate or one campaign; this party is an institution for every American who believes in lifting up working families and worker rights. It provides a platform and foundation for every American to become civically active in their community and in government at all levels. It is a unifying force for everyone who wants the government to care about its citizens instead of trying to con them.

It is during divisive times like these that I think it is important to remember why we became Democrats in the first place. My story happened when I was 14.

My father was an immigrant from Mexico and union machinist for Bowen Tools. It was a good job that provided for our family, but one day his right arm got stuck in a machine. As he reached over to push the stop button, the machine pulled him in and took off his right hand at the forearm.

That event should have ruined us, a newly American family whose sole breadwinner had lost his ability to make a living. But it didn’t.

Because of the union contract, my dad received a settlement that allowed us to buy a small home with potential, taught him English and retrained him so he could go back to work. It allowed him to keep providing for me and my brother.

That union contract gave my family a chance and a life and a future.

It also taught me that in America, it isn’t every man, or woman, for himself or herself — it’s why the American motto is, e pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

But it also taught me that there was only one party fighting for worker rights instead of corporate rights. There was only one party that defended the ability to get affordable health care and live in healthy communities instead of defending corporate profits and corporate pollution. It taught me about the Democratic Party.

At 14, as my father was healing and retraining, he took me to union meetings and Democratic Party meetings because he knew that his union and his rights depended on the next generation working to elect people to office who believed in those rights.

In the age of Donald Trump, it is that grass-roots activism that will allow Democrats to take on this hate and greed that is infecting our nation. We should resist policies that hurt working families and elected officials that support them, but we must always remember which party is with us and which is against us.

No matter who our candidate was in 2016 or who our favorite is for 2020, our mantra must be that we are fighting for the working families and elected officials who will protect them, champion them and represent them.

This week, members of the Democratic National Committee from across the country will gather at Bally’s in Las Vegas for the DNC’s Fall Meeting. It’s an important opportunity for our party to double down on charting a unified path forward.

The Democratic Party is not about one candidate or one campaign; it is an institution that is for every American who wants to get involved and make a difference.

Artie Blanco is a DNC member representing Nevada on the Rules and By-Laws Committee and Executive Committee. She has dedicated her career to electing Democrats from Texas to North Carolina to South Dakota to Nevada. She currently works as a labor activist based in Las Vegas.