Editorial Article

Why This Immigrant is a Democrat

October 17, 2019

In the ’40s, our mother had insisted we put on our plate only what we thought we could eat, adding that we shouldn’t waste food when so many children go hungry in the world. Our Dad (google Radjef) had dedicated his life to end the colonial oppression of his people. Classmates would chase the darker-skinned kid on his way home spewing the usual racial slurs. It is therefore not surprising that growing up my family allied ourselves with the underdog.

Arriving in the USA in the middle of the 1959 Kennedy campaign for president, I could not help but be mesmerized both by the electoral process and the candidate. This foreign student immediately became a “Democrat” at heart. Complicated turns of events coupled with fortuitous luck on several occasions, allowed me to move from a foreign exchange student to a permanent resident while working on a government project in 1966. In early 1972, I became a US citizen. In my opinion, the highlight of making the Pledge of Allegiance was the ending: “With Liberty and Justice for All”.

Since I was in French Lycée (secondary school) in the early ’50s, I always thought that all people should have the same rights. In the colonized world, the indigenous people were exploited by lawless oppressors while here, the forefathers of the nation had decreed “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”. I really liked that!

I believe that today’s Democratic Party is the one that more closely respects the principles laid out by the forefathers toward a more perfect union. Of course, they were only thinking “white” and “male”. Today, even though amendments have corrected the Constitution to extend rights to more people, they have not changed the psyche of some of today’s “old party men” (there is nothing ’grand’ about it!)

Still, a lot remains to be done. It galls me that these “old party men” make laws to tell women what to do with their bodies. It galls me that there are laws in several states that make voting especially difficult for Americans who are less fortunate. It galls me that public and private universities are able to charge huge tuition fees, and then force many graduates into debt and even job loss. It galls me that there is no Universal Health Care in place. It galls me that every country signed the Climate Change Agreement in Paris except Syria and Nicaragua, and now the USA. It galls me that the NRA (not the government) dictates gun policies. And finally, it galls me that “certain unalienable rights” are violated every day. It is amazing that the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been ratified, thus allowing women in many states to legally be treated as “lesser” than men when it comes to pay equity.

There is some good news though. Women have taken charge of governments in several countries and they have generally brought better governance.  In many others, they operate the gears and other moving parts that make the government vehicle operate more successfully. I think that history shows that men have made a mess of things and believe it is high time for women to be given the chance.

Indeed, in this country, some gutsy women are on the march and I believe it is long past due for them to send all remaining “old party men” into early retirement. I thank them all and shall continue to have their back.

by Tarek Lucien Radjef

Mr. Radjef was born before WWII in Paris, France.  He arrived in the USA in 1959 with a scholarship at Oklahoma State University.  He obtained a BSEE in 1962.  He is retired and an active member of CCDP, DFWWAC, TIAA, Dallas City 2020 Census Commission, AARP, and ACBL.