Keillor: Dems know it takes a village

Published July 20, 2004 3:44PM (EDT)

Garrison Keillor on what makes a Democrat a Democrat:

"A Democrat knows that the leaf turns and in the human comedy we are one day spectators and the next day performers. The gains in life come slowly and the losses come on suddenly  The fear of catastrophe could chill the soul but the social compact assures you that if the wasps come after you, if gruesome disease strikes down your child, if you find yourself hopelessly lost, incapable, drowning in despair, running through the rye toward the cliff, then the rest of us will catch you and tend to you and not only your friends but We the People in the form of public servants. This is a basic necessity in a developed society. Men and women make love and have babies in the knowledge that if the baby should be born with cerebral palsy or Down syndrome or a hole in its heart and require heroic care, the people of Minnesota and of St. Paul will stand with you in your dark hour. If you are saddled with trouble too great for a person to bear, you will not be left to perish by the roadside in darkness. Without that assurance, we may as well go live in the woods and take our chances."

"This is Democratic bedrock: we don't let people lie in the ditch and drive past and pretend not to see them dying. Here on the frozen tundra of Minnesota, if your neighbor's car won't start, you put on your parka and get the jumper cables out and deliver the Sacred Spark that starts their car. Everybody knows this. The logical extension of this spirit is social welfare and the myriad government programs with long dry names all very uninteresting to you until you suddenly need one and then you turn into a Democrat. A liberal is a conservative who's been through treatment."

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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