Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Why I’m a Democrat

( – promoted by chrisblask)

Hey all!  I just thought I’d do something nobody’s really been doing of late.  I’m going to tell you why I’m a Democrat, why I believe in the party and why I agree with much of the ideology.

My mother was a union-member air traffic controller with the FAA.  Her job was pretty much to keep civilian air traffic (and if I recall correctly, the occasional military flight) safely taking off, landing, and in the air as needed.  This is an incredibly difficult and stressful job.  It is also one of the most important functions of our government.

The fact that my mom had this job had a bigger impact on my formative years than I realized at the time.

Over at Ars Technica, one of my colleagues over there, an independent conservative, asked a pretty good question.  He asked:

“The USA Gov’t is the largest employer in the country. Doesn’t that sound like a bad thing to you?”

I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all.  I’ve always believed that the people often serve their interests best by coming together, through their elected government, to solve some of their problems.  Obviously this isn’t always the solution, and obviously there are things we could do far, far better than we do them now.  That said, the public sector can be a powerful force for good.

My mom’s job kept people from dying in metal tubes hurtling through the night.  My mom’s job also helped UPS and FedEx get your overnight delivery of edible women’s underoos at your doorstep on time.  My mom’s job was a positive good for the American people, even the ones who don’t ever fly.  She helped keep airplanes from smashing into your house while you’re online, placing an order for edible women’s underoos.

My conservative friends point out that air traffic control is a correction of a true market externality, something that does require a public sector solution.  They’ll often argue that the need for this does not mean that there is a need for everything else the government does.  That’s a very fair point.  For me, it comes down to really two things.  I honestly do not care if it is the private or public sector that tackles a problem if these two needs are met:

1) Are we doing the job well enough?

2) Are we doing the job efficiently and cheaply enough?

The government can privatize most of its functions.  There are people who believe that the government should do this.  That is a perfectly valid political philosophy and I will never mock those folks for holding it.  I just can’t agree.  Take that fair impulse far enough and you’ve got our veterans being treated like lepers in a dump of a building.

I’m a Democrat because people like my mom help make the market work and keep people safe.  You can privatize her job but the moment you do that you take away one of the most important aspects of that job – motivation.  If you work for a corporation you have a duty to maximize shareholder value.  That is not evil, that is necessary, both from a legal perspective (fiduciary duty) and from a pragmatic one.  Private enterprises such as a corporation exist to generate wealth, and any number of benefits often follow.  However, the goals of a corporation do not necessarily align with those needed for air traffic control, and air safety in general.

I’m a Democrat because I want the person who keeps the planes in the air more worried about the damned passengers and uninvolved public than the bottom line, EBITDA, and stock price of the company for whom he or she works.  I’m a Democrat because I believe that national problems have national needs.  I believe that the market is an exquisite mechanism for generating wealth and tackling many of our problems.  It just isn’t perfect.  Greed is good, at a lot of things.

Just not everything.


  1. psychodrew

    I’m a Democratic-voting Independent.  I always vote Democrat, but I’ve just never registered as one.

    For me, it’s simple.  If you lose everything, if you have nothing, who is going to be there for you?  The Democrats.


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