Previous Essay Contests


2020

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?

Video Reference

Full Video Transcript - moderator's question highlighted

Voter's question begins at 6:47 and the conversation runs until 11:00

Moderator's question runs from 9:47 to 10:07 of clip:

Scholarship-Winning Essays

1st Place: Anonymous

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.


1st Runner-Up: 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.


2nd Runner-Up: 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 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.


2019

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."

Scholarship-Winning Essays

1st Place: 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, one that defends anyone whom society threatens to neglect and define as "not a person." Only in second-wave feminism did women's equality become associated with a pro-choice platform. To comprehend "whole-life feminism" it is vital to explore how promotion of abortion is inconsistent with the central commitments of the feminist movement, on a social, physical, and philosophical level.


1ST RUNNER-UP: 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. It is in the footsteps of our feminist foremothers—the likes of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony—that the whole life feminist movement persists in defending the dignity of all life through resisting the violence of war, abortion, torture, the death penalty, genocide, and euthanasia. And, although whole life, or pro-life, feminism may seem a strikingly unusual phrase through the lens of today’s mainstream feminism, the concept is in reality a natural expression that embodies the purest ideals of feminism: a stirring desire for equality, an activist spirit, and a respect for all life. Quite to the contrary, it is any other type of feminism that is paradoxical.


2nd Runner-Up: Anonymous

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. The modern mainstream feminist viewpoint claims that it is a women’s right to say what happens to her body, they view anti-abortion laws as anti-feminist. Caring for an unplanned child could have the possibility to interfere with a woman’s future and/or she may not be emotionally or financially able to support her baby. It might seem like the right decision. Abortion, however, is a step backwards for feminism and societal equity.


2018

Prompt

Many people assert that the term 'Pro-Life Democrat' is contradictory.  How would you respond to someone who makes this assertion?

Scholarship-Winning Essays

1st Place: JAMES WHITE

“Democrats believe that we’re greater together than we are on our own – that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.” -- The Democratic Party Mission Statement

The Democratic Party has long been the party of the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, and the voiceless. Its mission is to lift up the powerless to give them a fighting chance. Being Pro-Life is not inconsistent with this Party’s mission, but rather taking it to its natural conclusion. The unborn are the most vulnerable and voiceless population in our country today, and because of this they have suffered immensely at the hands of Pro-Choice policies. Conservative studies estimate 45 million legal abortions since Roe v. Wade, and the United States performs about 13,000 late term abortions yearly. When faced with these horrific statistics, how can the party which led the fight for civil rights and immigration reform, which opposes wars abroad and capital punishment, which has for decades had its focus on the dignity and inalienable rights of all people, regardless of religion, race, age, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, turn a blind eye to this horrific injustice happening within its own society?


1st Runner-Up: CASEY CHO

Support for legalized abortion with minimal restriction has become so identified with the Democratic Party that it is hard for many to imagine any alternative viewpoint among Democrats. Dissenting pro-life Democrats come under attack from both other Democrats and other abortion opponents. For the former, opponents to abortion in the party are merely the vestigial remnants of an unfortunate past who ought to be swept into the dustbin of history along with the segregationist Dixiecrats. By contrast, much of the national anti-abortion movement sees pro-life Democrats as constituting a Potemkin village: useful during national elections for winning conservative-leaning votes but otherwise muzzled and impotent. However, an honest reckoning of the evidence shows no contradiction in being a pro-life Democrat and that in fact is the most coherent and consistent position.


2nd Runner-Up: Anonymous

The beauty of an ostensible contradiction is that it is an invitation to discover a paradox, a supposed contradiction that when observed fully and deeply is actually the manifestation of concordant and profound truths. Thus, the historically and culturally loaded term “pro-life Democrat” appears to be a contradictory moniker, but upon analysis it is not.


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