Are equality and freedom really at odds? The values of a Democrat, and the week ahead for Duke Dems

Dear friends,

The difference between Democrats and Republicans is sometimes phrased as a difference between two core values: equality and liberty.  They tell us that Republicans want lower taxes, because “lower taxes” and a “small government?” make people “more free,” while Democrats “want” higher taxes to “equal things out.”

The events of the last few weeks though should be a reminder to us all though: an unequal society can never be truly free. 

Sure, George Zimmerman might have been “free” to own and carry a gun – but as long as we live in a society with a deeply unequal criminal justice system, racial minorities will never be free to walk around safely without facing harassment and suspicion, to fully and safely participate in their communities in a way that many of us take for granted.

Whenever there is inequality, those who have more will be able to restrict the freedom of those who have less.  It is important for us as Democrats to compromise when compromise is required, to listen carefully to those who disagree with us, and to incorporate new evidence into our way of thinking, even when it challenges our believes.  This should not be mistaken for an obligation to ignore or to be silent about the basic moral reality of our nation: that oppression is still alive and well in the United States.

I am afraid, but I am also hopeful.

I am afraid that the religious right will successfully pass North Carolina Amendment One, and will use our state’s constitution to oppress sexual minorities, forbidding them from accessing the same basic privileges that straight couples receive.

I am afraid that North Carolina’s Stand Your Ground Law—the exact same type of law that killed Trayvon Martin in Florida—will stay on the books, allowing those willing to use violence to forever silence their victim.

I am afraid that Republicans at the state and national level will continue their devastating cuts to education and healthcare to finance more tax breaks, so that the children of rich families will stay rich, while the children of poor families grow sicker, poorer, and less capable to compete for the same opportunities that the children of wealthy families were born with.

The Republican vision of society doesn’t sound equal to me, but it also doesn’t sound free, unless “freedom” is a word that only applies to wealthy, straight, white, Judeo-Christian men.

I am afraid, but I am also hopeful, because I look at both the leadership and the grassroots supporters of the Democratic party, and I see a great many people who aren’t blind to the our nation’s systemic injustices, and who are willing to make sacrifices so that our society will better uphold its most fundamental values.   This week, there are many important opportunities on campus to fight for our vision of a free and equal society.  Our group will be working with Duke Durham Hunger Alliance to fight poverty in our community, with many other student groups to mourn the death of Trayvon Martin, and will continue our work with Duke Together to rally opposition against North Carolina Amendment One.  Please read on.


Elena Botella

(Keep reading for upcoming Duke Democrats and progressive community events)

(1)   A1 Phonebanking & DSG A1 resolution Wednesday night

North Carolina Amendment One would forever prevent LGBT couples from marrying and from having civil unions, and would strip straight and gay unmarried couples from basic and important protections.  Voting starts April 19th—that’s less than a month away!

Please come to one of the four weekly phonebanks, to make sure that Duke students will be voting against this blatantly discriminatory amendment.

Mondays 8-10pm in Languages 207, Tuesdays 5-6 pm in the Women’s Center, Wednesdays from 7-8pm in the LGBT Center, or Thursdays 5-6pm in the East Campus Union below the Marketplace (right by the store)

This Wednesday at 8pm in Schiciano Auditorium (CIEMAS on West Campus), Duke Student Government will be voting on a resolution opposing Amendment One.  Come show your support for the resolution, and during the public hearing (if you want) make one-minute speech explaining why you think Duke Student Government should publicly opposed Amendment One.

(2)   Trayvon Martin Vigil – Tuesday night

Trayvon Martin was a teenager who was gunned down on February 26th in Sanford, Florida. His murderer, George Zimmerman, is still free after claiming “self-defense.”

We invite you to stand in support of Trayvon Martin, his family, and justice.

Please bring Skittles to send to the Sanford Police Department.

Wear Hoodies!

7-9pm, tomorrow night, in front of Duke chapel

This event is cosponsored by : DSG, Mi Gente, NAACP, BSA, Asian American Alliance, Black Graduate & Professional Student Association (BGPSA)

(3)   Fighting hunger in Durham with Duke-Durham Hunger Alliance

Duke Dems is teaming up with DDHA to raise money for the Durham CROP Hunger Walk, which supports poverty alleviation in Durham and internationally.  This is a part of the College Democrats of North Carolina hunger fighting initiative.

If you signed up to table, please look back at the doodle so you know your shift ( If you are the first person signed up to table on a certain day, you will be in charge of setting stuff up on the plaza (or inside the BC if it is raining). You will need to go to the OSAF desk & take out a table. Say that you are tabling with Duke-Durham Hunger Alliance. Likewise, if you are the last person tabling on a certain day, you will need to return the table to OSAF. Our t-shirts and flyers will be stored in OSAF as well.

If you haven’t yet signed up to table, we’d love your help! If you have questions, please email Carrie at caroline.jacobs [at] duke [dot] edu

(4)   Save the date – You’re invited to political movie night 

Come join us in Nexus commons (on Central, 209 Anderson Apt. E) on April 6th  at 8pm to watch Game Change, a new movie about Sarah Palin’s time as John McCain’s running mate.

There will be snacks, and it will be fun!

Published by Elena Botella

Elena Botella is a Duke Undergraduate in the Class of 2013, majoring in Economics and Math.

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