Monday, February 20, 2012

You're a Democrat

I was told I was a Democrat by my 10th grade history teacher.

It was the first day of school, and I'd been looking forward to his class for years. There was a handful of teachers at DHS that were sure to prepare students for college, and I knew he was one of them. Knowing how challenging this world history class would be made me a little nervous. Not to mention, the only two boys I'd ever really had a crush on were sitting next to me and behind me.

During the introduction to the class, the teacher proclaimed "And it's always nice to have a Bassett in one of my classes," As he glanced my way he finished his thought, "we need a staunch Democrat to keep class discussions lively."

HUH? What did either of those things even mean? I'm sure under non-embarrassment mode I could have figured it out. I'd grown up my whole life listening to my paternal Grandmother speak with pride, of how her Father was told by an apostle of God to be a Democrat. My sweet Grandma didn't keep all the commandments she'd been taught -- but that one she kept! Unquestionably, she kept it!

I'm sure I'd heard my maternal Grandfather, or at least my own parents, pass down his wisdom that "Republicans are for the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer."  That didn't sound appealing to me. The disdain in his voice told me it infuriated him.

I suppose I should have known I was a Democrat. But no one ever told me I had to be one. I was told I had to get good grades, I had to practice the piano, I had to get my young woman hood medallions, I had to get a job. My parents had a long list of expectations. I could not attend BYU. I could not play on more than 2 athletic teams -- I even had a list of could nots.  But I had never been told I was a Democrat, nor had I ever been told I couldn't be a Republican.

Not until that first day of 10th grade. There it was, out in front of everyone. I was to be the class antagonist. Lucky for me, a young man kiddy corner behind me proudly raised his hand "I'm a Democrat too. My whole family is."  After this proclamation he had to identify his parents and where they lived. I felt like they were being added to the town's small list of Democrats.

Later that evening, while discussing the event with my father and older brother, I learned this same thing had happened to each of my older siblings on their first day in this honored teacher's class. I also learned, I didn't have to be a staunch Democrat if I didn't want to be.  But yes -- my family had a history of being just that. Partly because that apostle of God told them to be, but mostly because they wanted to be.  


Kelli said...

Interesting. So what's the story with the apostle telling your grandpa to be a Democrat? It sounds like a good story.

Liz Szilagyi said...

I should call my dad and double check that it was an apostle, but I'm pretty sure it was a member of the Seventy -- and he was on official assignment from Church headquarters. So that would qualify as an apostolic commandment.

The story is pretty simple really. When UT applied for statehood they had to be 50/50 Rep and Dem. So Church officials visited congregations and drew a line down the center of the aisle. My Great-Great-Grandfather's family just happened to be sitting on the side commanded to vote and register as Democrats. My Great-Grandad had always been into "politics" and his community so he took the command seriously and raised all his children to believe in the principles of the Democratic party (circa early 1900s).

My Dad thinks the LDS Church needs to reinstate the 50/50 rule in Utah :). Politics truly do work best when there are two (or three) active sides. Utah's one party dominance has some serious downfalls (just like Texas, California, and New York).

Balance in all things.

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