DFLA General

DFLA 2020 Essay Contest Results

Posted in DFLA General

DFLA 2020 Essay Contest Results

A Note from Kristen Day, DFLA Executive Director

Dear 2020 Contest Participants,

I want to thank all who participated.

This year's contest was very competitive – with a large number of entries and a significant number of these rated as extraordinarily strong. It's clear so many of you invested much thought, research, and personal introspection as you wrestled with a prompt with many facets. Perhaps I can empathize with you – making your best case against difficult odds is very much an affair of the heart. Thank you for your participation and enthusiasm.

The judging committee made two recommendations that I will act on. First – due to the overall strength of essays, they strongly favored notifying students whose essay finished as a finalist (top 9 essays) or semi-finalist (top 75 essays). Our rules don’t have a provision for contacting students to tell them placement, but we will respond to participant questions or inquiries. Therefore, if you write our contest coordinator, he will tell you where your essay finished.

The judging committee's other comment relates to the many, singular and profound insights that pepper so many of the essays – what the judging committee called "quotable gems". These are snippets of roughly 10 to 20 words that reflect a universal truth or virtue, aphorisms we tend to associate with Nobel laureates and historical figures of distinction; that you hear in graduation speeches. We would like to dedicate a page on our website to these "gems" – to let others hear and appreciate your inspiring and uplifting perspectives. Again, if you write us and asked us what “quotable gems” stood out to us, we’ll tell you; or if you have your own favorite snippet, let us know and if it fits, we'll post it. Tell us if you want us to show your name. We want to give you credit, but like the winning essays – we will only show your name with your permission.

Again, thank you for being a part of our contest, and we hope you will return next year to challenge yourself with a different prompt.


2020 Essay Prompt

This year, DFLA asked students to respond to this prompt:  

At a January 26, 2020, town hall meeting with aspiring Democratic presidential candidate and former mayor Pete Buttigieg, in regard to a pro-life Democrat's question regarding inclusion in the party, the moderator rephrased the citizen’s concern as, "WHAT DO YOU SAY TO DEMOCRATS WHO ARE PRO-LIFE… ON AN ISSUE OF SUCH DEEP CONSCIENCE – THAT THEY SHOULD OVERLOOK THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE AND LOOK AT THE WHOLE SUM OF VIEWS? OR GO FIND ANOTHER PARTY?" Buttigieg sidestepped the question, declining the chance to welcome them in the party, and other Democratic presidential candidates appear to have the same attitude. BUT HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND?

 

Prize-Winning Essays


1st Place

The Democratic Party is characterized by a keen sense of justice, a willingness to evaluate and reevaluate our sociopolitical structures, and most of all, a deep belief in the sanctity of life. We have seen this commitment in every Democratic platform in recent history- gun reform, healthcare accessibility, women’s empowerment, minority rights- all for the conviction that no life should be lost needlessly. This drive to protect and uplift the most vulnerable in society aligns with the intention of the pro-life movement, yet many Democrats do not understand the reasoning behind the progressive pro-life platform. Thus, in this time of great social and political change, I would ask pro-life Democrats to be active and vocal in the Democratic Party to encourage open political discourse by raising pressing questions about the ethics of our laws and our leaders....

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1st Runner-Up - by Alyson (Aly) Diaz

‘‘It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.’’ -- Hubert Humphrey Jr. (D)

Former Vice President Humphrey’s words illustrate what it means to be a Democrat: standing up for the vulnerable and underrepresented, and for the values of equality, diversity, and unity. Defending those who otherwise would not have a voice in public policy is the Democratic party's role in the United States...

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2nd Runner-Up - by James Elliott

In a political field increasingly characterized by extreme ideological division, the uniting words of Eleanor Roosevelt come to mind. She observed, “The Democrats believe that the whole people should govern.” The whole people entails all communities - communities of different ethnicities and different perspectives - who share a common goal of progressively promoting access to healthcare, reforming the broken criminal justice system, and improving quality of life for American citizens. However, the Democratic Party has betrayed its value of inclusion by consistently alienating members who take progressive beliefs to a virtuous whole life conclusion...

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2020 Second Runner Up Essay, by James Elliot

Posted in DFLA General

2020 Second Runner Up Essay, by James Elliot


In a political field increasingly characterized by extreme ideological division, the uniting words of Eleanor Roosevelt come to mind. She observed, “The Democrats believe that the whole people should govern.” The whole people entails all communities - communities of different ethnicities and different perspectives - who share a common goal of progressively promoting access to healthcare, reforming the broken criminal justice system, and improving quality of life for American citizens. However, the Democratic Party has betrayed its value of inclusion by consistently alienating members who take progressive beliefs to a virtuous whole life conclusion by protecting life within the womb. A whole people deserves a whole life ideology, one that respects those of differing consciences, instead of testing dedication to abortion by placing restrictions on whose lives the Democratic Party protects. Such a disturbing trend has indeed undermined but not destroyed the integrity of this institution. Pro-life Democrats should not overlook this “issue of such deep conscience,” but should continue fighting for long term reform. However, until the fight has progressed to the extent where pro-life Democratic candidates regularly contend, voters should potentially support pro-life candidates from other parties, voting according to conscience, because the value of life is paramount to all other political issues.

The value of life must be paramount to other talking points because of its inherently inclusive nature. Black lives do indeed matter, as do Hispanic, white, and Asian lives - human lives - on both sides of the womb. That is the nature of a whole life and whole person worldview. The Democratic Party truly values building African-American communities and improving quality of life through social policies. However, that goal would be better attained by cultivating all African-American lives. According to the CDC, 47% of pregnancies for African-Americans are aborted yearly, compared to 16% of white pregnancies. Even if the Democratic Party fights for improved minimum wages, safer school systems, and less wealth inequality - supposedly providing equal opportunity - they brush over the root of these issues. More black lives, and indeed lives of all other ethnicities, are snuffed out before they are born than ever before, denying the very possibility of equal opportunity and enflaming what Representative Katrina Jackson called “modern-day genocide” by undermining political efficacy. That is why it is unconscionable to support a pro-choice candidate, especially those who prohibit negotiations with the pro-life community, regardless of that candidate’s stance on other social matters. Overlooking such an issue and only attending to “the whole sum of views” is impossible because truly progressive views stem from valuing life first and foremost.

However, just because pro-life Democratic voters should vote to sustain life does not mean that we should give up the struggle to reform the Democratic party in the aggregate. William Wilberforce fought a seemingly one-sided battle, prying the cruel hands of wealthy corporations from the necks of unjustly enslaved men and women across the British colonies. He quite literally gave his life in this noble pursuit, breaking social standards in 1789 by introducing a bill to free the shackles on innocent lives. Not until June 26, 1833 did Wilberforce achieve his goal, fighting through personal ailments and vicious vitriol from politicians on both sides of party lines. He died three days later. Such dedication to battling unparalleled injustice should inspire this modern movement. Reform is the hard way, but it is the right way. Lasting change does not occur overnight, but through years of intentional upstream swimming. It is slow, seemingly invisible, but permanent. Since the Democratic Party historically counts the whole people as its supporters, the opposition of party leaders should not discourage reformers. According to Marist Poll data in January of 2020, 44% of Democratic voters are likely to vote for a candidate who supports significant restrictions on abortion, and 39% believe abortion should either be illegal or determined by individual states. Exclusive wording in the party platform when dealing with abortion belies a national willingness from the average person to actually support all lives, which can be channeled through perseverant grassroots efforts, defying elite expectations.

My baseball coaches unfortunately often benched me after I committed errors in the field. But their goal in doing so was to help me improve through further learning and eventually return to my position. In the same vein, pro-life Democratic voters should not reward candidates who undermine Democratic values by betraying unborn lives, but also should not give up the fight. Historical roots run deep. The words from the 2016 party platform preamble display this truth: “As Democrats, we respect differences of perspective and belief, and pledge to work together to move this country forward, even when we disagree.” Channeling Wilberforce grit, reformers from within can return the Democratic Party to a field where supporting whole life is celebrated by the whole people.


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2020 First Runner Up Essay, by Alyson (Aly) Diaz

Posted in DFLA General

2020 First Runner Up Essay, by Alyson (Aly) Diaz


‘‘It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.’’ - - Hubert Humphrey Jr. (D)

Former Vice President Humphrey’s words illustrate what it means to be a Democrat: standing up for the vulnerable and underrepresented, and for the values of equality, diversity, and unity. Defending those who otherwise would not have a voice in public policy is the Democratic party's role in the United States. Members of the party uplifted the voices of blue-collar and domestic workers, minority communities, the elderly, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, and the poor, even when no one would listen. From the Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights movement to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, Democrats were the champions of underrepresented communities. They took pride in their role. Unborn children are one of the most powerless individuals in our country, and mothers, especially single mothers, are often unprotected. Unfortunately, many Democrats have abandoned their fundamental beliefs, and Pro-Life advocates have been kicked out by the Democratic National Committee (DNC). DNC chairman, Tom Perez, defined the Democratic party stating, “every Democrat...should support a women’s right to choose” and has instituted litmus tests to exclude Pro-Life candidates and PACs ability to support them. What it means to be a Democrat has become synonymous with abortion rights, rather than symbolizing the commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of society.

The term Pro-Life Democrat is not an oxymoron. To neglect the unborn children and mothers is a sign of a party that has deviated from its founding principles. Many Democratic leaders once advocated for Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal, and rare” stance on abortion, which at least acknowledged some Democrats’ moral uncertainties about the procedure. As the Pro-Choice movement grew more extreme and influential within the Democratic establishment, the party began to undermine its core values, many of those Democratic lawmakers lost their seats, and DNC now uses less-inclusive language when describing party platforms. There is no need for Pro-Life advocates to leave the party as they exemplify what it means to be a Democrat and are closer to the party’s initial position on abortion. Pro-life Democrats should not abandon their moral conscience, the party itself needs to change and recommit to the values of diversity and inclusion. Despite the DNC’s efforts to suppress their voices, 1 in 3 Democrats are Pro-Life, and only 13% Pro-Choice Democrats support abortion in all cases. Pro-life Democrats are being marginalized within their party for remaining loyal to their promise of protecting human life from conception to natural death.

Democrats value diversity, and finding common ground is an essential part of the party. The 2020 Democratic Presidential primaries featured candidates who identify as female, black, Latinx/Hispanic, and gay. While this is an achievement to celebrate, the active suppression of Pro-Life Democrats shows that the DNC's commitment to diversity is skin deep. The party has forgotten about the importance of diversity of thought, particularly when it comes to abortion. Recent Pew Research Center polls show that an estimated 25% of Democrats oppose same-sex marriage (https://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/), yet party establishment has not instituted similar litmus tests for gay marriage opponents. They are still welcomed into the party because, except for this issue, they are unequivocally Democrats. Why should Democratic Pro-Life advocates be treated any differently? A party that celebrates racial diversity during its primaries must honor the diversity of thought within its members. The ideological divide between the two parties has widened; as a result, acceptance for differing opinions has fallen. Now more than ever, it is vital that the Democratic Party present a united front. The DNC needs to reconcile support for women’s bodily autonomy with religious beliefs and/or moral disagreement about abortion.

However, not all hope is lost. The Democratic party is remarkably resilient. As a party that recognizes that America is a very fortunate country, it pushes every American to be better. History shows that the failure to welcome Pro-Life advocates and unborn children is not the first time that the Democratic party has forgotten about the defenseless. The ugly side of Democratic history reminds us that for 150 years, Dixiecrats quelled African Americans’ rights under slavery and segregation. The Great Society's policies were a defining moment for the Democratic values of inclusivity, equality, and diversity. This moment serves as hope that one day Democrats will recognize the rights of unborn children—they deserve a place within the party. As advocates for the unborn and their rights, Pro-Life Democrats shall not stand alone.


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2020 Winning Essay

Posted in DFLA General

Winning Essay of the DFLA 2020 Essay Content


The Democratic Party is characterized by a keen sense of justice, a willingness to evaluate and reevaluate our sociopolitical structures, and most of all, a deep belief in the sanctity of life. We have seen this commitment in every Democratic platform in recent history- gun reform, healthcare accessibility, women’s empowerment, minority rights- all for the conviction that no life should be lost needlessly. This drive to protect and uplift the most vulnerable in society aligns with the intention of the pro-life movement, yet many Democrats do not understand the reasoning behind the progressive pro-life platform. Thus, in this time of great social and political change, I would ask pro-life Democrats to be active and vocal in the Democratic Party to encourage open political discourse by raising pressing questions about the ethics of our laws and our leaders.

In mainstream Democratic media, pro-life views are described as unethical and backward. On social media, where many young people develop their political views, pro-life beliefs are vilified as misogynistic and torn apart in passionate twitter rants and Instagram graphics. Growing up in a liberal suburb in Southern California, pro-life was synonymous with anti-feminist. Pro-lifers were corrupt male judges who stripped women of rights. Pro-lifers were cruel and violent demonstrators who harassed young girls. Pro-lifers overlooked rape and incest.

For most of my life, I believed this. I was the daughter of immigrants who worked hard to make a living; I could not imagine giving up the education that my parents worked so hard to secure for me, and I was sure that having a child would ruin my chance at a career. I was convinced that motherhood was incompatible with social mobility.

When I first stumbled upon the Democrat’s For Life of America (DFLA) website, I, unfortunately, thought it was satire– but I had never seen such dense text on any satire site– so I began to read. Even with a narrow mind, I found myself agreeing with many of DFLA’s platforms wholeheartedly. I saw the term “whole-life feminism” for the very first time and realized that my own support for the pro-choice movement was a reflection of my own fears in a society that failed to support women and mothers. Just like the rest of Generation Z, I developed my beliefs in a social media echo chamber. I was convinced by pro-choice arguments because it was the only view on abortion that I had ever come across. I read rebuttals about the “evil” of pro-life values before I even knew what pro-life values were.

Pro-life Democrats should stay in the Democratic Party without having to hide their views because their whole-life feminist ideas make a valuable contribution to current theories about human rights and civic reform. Pro-life Democrats offer humane alternatives to abortion and have the same ultimate goal as the rest of the Democratic Party: to create a society where women are in control of their reproductive health and can not only prevent unwanted pregnancies but also be able to have children without financial or social worries. In other words, collaboration between pro-life Democrats and the Democratic Party is a step towards a society where abortions will no longer be necessary.

Democrats and pro-life Democrats can definitely agree that pregnant women should be given medical and psychological support. They can agree that youth must be taught about the risks of sex, and how to minimize them. Most of all, they can agree that women’s careers have been hindered by society’s failure to respect and support mothers.

In a time where politics is being increasingly polarized, and youth often use social media as a news source, the pro-life Democrats have an important role to play. Educating the public on pro-life values will inspire greater understanding and empathy, and open doors to civil discourse about issues of deep conscience. Thus, I would say to all pro-life Democrats: please be a part of the Democratic Party and share your thoughts, because our society, our leaders, and our youth have so much more to learn about how to support women’s equality and fight for life.


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DFLA 2019 Essay Contest Results

Prize-Winning Essays

DFLA asked students to respond to the prompt:  Although the term "feminist" turns off a lot of people, many women (and men) identify this way for the term’s presumption of equality between genders. Similarly many view themselves as "whole life" because they adhere to non-violence and a consistent life ethic throughout the full human cycle. Evaluate the term "whole-life feminist."


1st Place - by Kathryn Thompson

America's first-wave feminists not only courageously campaigned for women's rights but also demonstrated a steadfast commitment to all the underrepresented. The same feminists who launched the women's suffrage movement went on to promulgate what was the largest petition for the abolition of slavery in US history. They lobbied for child labor laws, pushed for affordable health care, provided education for immigrants, founded homes for the elderly, partnered with labor unions, and advocated for unborn children. Feminism is historically and fundamentally grounded in a whole-life ethic...

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1st Runner-Up - by James Chapman

The feminist movement, from its earliest days, has battled relentlessly to secure equality for women in a male-dominated society. From extending voting rights to women, to expanding their employment options, to ending the centuries-long silence that has smothered victims of abuse and harassment, feminist leaders of the past century have indeed left a legacy of transformative and energetic activism in the modern United States...

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2nd Runner-Up

There is a misconception in today’s society that pairs the feminist movement with pro-choice ideals; however not all feminists support the choice of abortion. Whole life feminists believe in equality and rights for every life that exists, from the moment of conception to natural death. Feminism has always been committed to protecting and fighting for women’s rights...

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Contact DFLA

Democrats For Life of America
The Pro-Life Voice of the Democratic Party
Phone: (703) 424-6663
info@democratsforlife.org

10521 Judicial Drive, Unit 200, Fairfax, VA 22030

Facebook: Democrats for Life of America