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What Being a Democrat Means to Me

By: Wendy L. Callahan


I was born in 1974 to young, hippie parents, and raised by a single dad. He passed his values to me throughout my entire childhood, and shared his political views with me as I approached adulthood. The progressive platforms of the Democratic party – social and economic equality, civil rights, environmental protection, common sense gun laws, workers’ rights, less government involvement in the private affairs of citizens, and more – remain an important part of my identity.

My father taught my sister and I never to judge anyone based on ethnicity, sexuality, or any other aspect that was an inherent part of them. He taught me that people’s private lives were none of my business, and not for me or anyone else to judge or control.

These were, for me, the fundamental principles on which I was raised, and the principles of being a Democrat: empathy and compassion for others; respect for their privacy, their own decisions and their humanity; and helping others especially in our own nation, but never overstepping.

I went on to marry my first husband, who was in the Air Force. I was an Air Force wife from the age of 18 to 38, and selected to serve as a Key Spouse when I lived at Dover Air Force Base. After that, I had the privilege of living in South Korea, followed by England. Each move, as well as my involvement in supporting the spouses of the squadron, introduced me to unique cultures and challenges, and reinforced all that I’d held dear since my childhood.

My second husband and I made our home in Nebraska when his enlistment ended in 2013. We chose the Beaver Lake area, because my husband spent the early years of his life in Murray when his father was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in the 1990s. It was yet another culture change for me, and the thought of living in a “red state” was more concerning than living in a country where I didn’t speak the language.

We attended the 2016 Cass County Democratic Convention in Weeping Water and were both impressed with the passion of the attendees. It was a new experience, watching people talk about why they supported Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, and make their case as to why we should vote for one or the other. I loved every minute of it.

Words are insufficient to tell you how much I want to see that excitement and passion for our county Democratic party once more. 

Like so many people, I worry about the direction this country is headed, and how we can make things better for everyone in it. As I turn 50 this year, I look at my preteen daughter and adult son, and recommit myself to fighting for their futures, and their children’s futures, and for all the generations that will come after me.

No matter how we identify on the political spectrum, we are all in this together. We have different ideas on what we should achieve and how we should achieve it, but I believe most of us share the common ideal of doing the best we can for the next generation. 

That is what being a Democrat has always meant to me: working together for the good of all. 


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