Joshua Heath | Vote Heath (for Real This Time)

Joshua Heath

On March 5, I will be appearing on the presidential primary ballot as a candidate for our local Democratic County Committee. You will all have the opportunity to decide whether to make me a member of the California Democratic Party’s leadership.  

It is my sincere hope that today’s column will be persuasive enough for readers to confidently support my candidacy.  

In so many words, county committee members are the foot soldiers of politics. We organize within our communities, endorse candidates for office, vote on the party platform, and attend annual conventions. It is unpaid work, done simply out of a desire to serve and make the world a little bit better. 

I firmly believe I’ll bring to this office a raft of very important qualities. For starters the values my family instilled in me, which I try my best to live up to every day.  

I was raised by two wonderful parents who deeply believed in the importance of giving back, but with an attitude of humility as you do so. The essential thing is to try to make a difference, not out of a desire for applause, but in order to protect and provide for others.  

One must seek to fix the flaws of the world, while also being self-aware of one’s own foibles, too. This orientation leads to a politics that is motivated by grace, rather than self-righteous judgment. America needs Democrats with an absolute commitment to justice and social change, who also understand the moral obligation to see humanity on the other side.  

Nobody has a monopoly on truth. I always remember that my political opponents, whether they are on the far left or the right, have lessons to teach me as well. Therefore, one is obliged to listen, not just speak out; try to understand, rather than simply instruct. The depth of anyone’s personal experience is always going to be limited. We all  need others in order to fulfill our own potential.  

Humility is a prerequisite for excellence.  

Next, county committee members, since they pick who the Democratic Party endorses for office, play an influential role in public policy. Therefore, let me explain the sort of political vision I will look for when deciding on which leaders to support. 

In so many words, the government works best when it undertakes vigorous, effective action to help the people. Humane laws won’t by themselves create success, but they can ensure the young are given a fighting chance, the old have time to spend with their grandchildren, and the vulnerable are properly cared for.  

There’s this idea one hears from conservative-minded fellows, that Democrats are kind-hearted, but simply very naive. Social justice is a pretty theory, the argument goes, but far too expensive to implement as fact.  

When in truth, the opposite is the case. An activist government in the mold of the New Deal isn’t just good morals, it’s common sense. Letting people suffer is the irrational point of view.  

Consider a classic example, that of hunger. According to an analysis from the nonprofit Hunger Free America, it would cost $25 billion a year to ensure everyone has enough to eat. A cynic may see that figure and come to the conclusion that it’s just too high, a price tag we can’t afford.  

The problem with such thinking is it only considers the fiscal burden of helping people. Yet that’s just a part of the picture. 

Consider what happens when you take a broader lens and look at the money issue in a different way. More specifically, conservatives never think about how much it costs to let people go hungry. 

The assumption is that ignoring their suffering is free. The agony of an empty stomach may be great on a personal level, but it doesn’t impact the rest of us. 

However, nothing could be further from the case. What individuals endure in the shadows makes the world less bright for all. Hunger is not just an individual tragedy, but a collective one. It leads to chronic diseases that overwhelm our hospitals, crimes of desperation that fill up the jails, makes it impossible for children to learn, and reduces the productivity of our workers. 

All of those factors have enormous financial consequences for the nation. A separate study conducted by researchers Dr. John Cook and Ana Poblacion, commissioned by Bread for the World institute, looked at hunger’s impact on the U.S health care system alone. This paper concluded it was responsible for an additional $160 billion in costs. 

In other words, letting people starve is over six times more expensive than just giving them a meal in the first place.  

It is fiscally conservative to do the right thing, and fiscally reckless to take the cruel approach. But you will never hear this on Fox News.  

The same logic applies across a host of other issues, including access to health care, homelessness, poverty, and criminal justice reform.  

In each of these cases, social justice is far cheaper – and much better for our hearts – than letting folks continue to be overwhelmed by their extraordinary burdens.  

We can take comfort in the fact that it is practical to fight for a better world, not naive. Imagine how wonderful life could be if more leaders were aware of that truth? 

Elect me to our local Democratic County Committee and I will work tirelessly to ensure this sort of politics wins the day in America.  

Taking care of one another is the highest form of patriotism there is. 

Joshua Heath is an SCV Resident and UCLA Graduate. He has served two terms as a delegate to the California Democratic Party. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.

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