Critics of those who are taking up space in solidarity with Rep. John Lewis are levying charges of reflexive partisanship. But we are not fighting for him merely because we are Democrats; we are Democrats because people like him have fought for us.
The strong and widespread support for Lewis is now being denounced by Democratic opponents as partisan politicking. This could not be more wrong.
It is wrong because there is nothing stopping Congressional Republicans from showing their support for their colleague Lewis, except their own craven indecency. It is not a reflection of Democrats’ partisanship that they are the only ones exhibiting solidarity for an American patriot, but of Republicans’ partisanship that they do not feel obliged to do the same.
It is wrong because the concerns Lewis has that prompted his comments about Trump’s legitimacy — Russian interference in the election, for one — are not partisan issues, irrespective of many Republicans’ indifference to their gravity.
And it is wrong, most importantly, because those of us who take up space in solidarity with Lewis are not doing so because we are Democrats. That has it precisely backwards. We are Democrats because of people like Rep. John Lewis.
We are Democrats, in part, because of the men and women who are the standard-bearers of the Democratic Party, who have modeled for us what principled resistance and progressive values look like. We found a home with his party because people like Lewis not only laid the foundation, but built the walls and fitted the roof and laid the path to the front door of that home.
I am a Democrat because I embrace Democratic values, not just in protest of Republicans’ detestable policies and behavior.
I was a Democrat before Donald Trump, and I expect to be one long after he is gone. I am not a Democrat because of Donald Trump. I am a Democrat because of John Lewis; because of his example.
And because of all the women and men in his party who have given me reason to be, by fighting for the things I believe in; by fighting for equal rights for every American; by fighting for me.
Now I fight for John Lewis, though someone who has lived a life of resistance and knows what he is doing hardly needs my defense. It is offered not because he needs it, but because he has earned it.
That is not a reflection of my partisanship; it is a reflection of my gratitude — and my humanity.